Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘tourism’

Life on water: a photographic tale from Cambodia

January 10, 2013


Back in August 2012 I spent a day at the Vietnamese floating village at Kampong Chnnang, central Cambodia.  Lying at the mouth of the Tonle Sap Lake, much of the town of Kampong Chnnang spends half the year beneath the water.  Allowing for this, many of the local people have adapted their lives and homes, whilst the local Vietnamese community lives entirely in a floating village; living their lives on the water in floating houses, shops on boats, and livelihoods which make the most of the surrounding water and wetlands: subsistence based on fishing and wetland rice farming.  I took a lot of photos that day documenting the everyday life on water of the floating village, and I was fortunate to have some of the photos I took selected to be part of the Intimate Lens Festival of Visual Ethnography in Caserta, Italy in December last year.  Now you can see the full gallery on my flickr page.  Here’s a taster below.  Enjoy!


28 Days on the Moon on Turkish TV

June 7, 2012


From Visual anthropology Classroom to  Turkish  TV

MPhil student Eda Elif Tibet’s documentary will be first broadcast on the Turkish documentary channel, İZ Tv,  on the 8th June at 10.15pm. She writes about the origin of her documentary, the process of its making,  and how her film was discovered on Facebook.

It was right after one of my first lessons in Visual Anthropology at Kent that I decided to realize my dream documentary project on Cappadocia. After many visits to the field site since 2007 and a long research period that took almost two years, I was just getting ready to try my first documentary. I did not have a budget, and there were no other crew members other than myself. I was excitedly getting ready to film, when my father passed away.

A beekeeper in Cappadocia.

I abandoned everything for a while with deep sorrow and grief. But, not so long after, I realized that perhaps to continue working on this film could make me understand some of the mysteries of life and what it is to be human, in a more humorous way. My mother bought me a HDSLR, the Canon 7 D, and I bought myself a mono microphone that could be placed on the top of the camera. In the field Dr. Andus Emge and his wife Gülcan Yücedoğan Emge, who also feature in the film,  were a great support. They hosted me several times in their wonderful guesthouse . I had friends all over Cappadocia, I was never alone and as I talked about my documentary idea , people seemed to be really engaged and supportive throughout the filming. The people who agreed to be filmed were more than informants to me. They were amazing characters that guided me with their light and friendship throughout the most difficult time of my life.

I shot the film in 28 days, because that was the time I had been given to complete the rest of the fieldwork and discipline myself as a first time visual anthropologist. I called Cappadocia the moon for its breathtaking moonlike landscape and also as a reference to its’ people who I thought were not quite understood; the secluded, conservative yet very friendly and hospitable cave dwellers.

I did not just want to make a film that was academically interesting but was also understandable for the people I encountered in Cappadocia. After filming enough for a rough cut I was lucky to meet with Tufan Bora, a very talented editor who has helped me a great deal. Without his assistance and great ideas on building the narrative flow for the film, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have now.

For the soundtrack of the film, I was also fortunate to be given the screening rights of  wonderful songs by the inspiring musicians Alain Blessing, Ozan Musluoglu and Tunç Tandoğan. I also got the opportunity to screen the film to visual anthropologists from around the world at the Intimate lens visual ethnography film festival in Italy, to students at Massey University in New Zealand, and in a mainstream student film festival in Abu Dhabi. In January of this year I drew on the feedback I was give to edit a final version and create a short trailer. With great luck, the trailer was recognized by an editor from IZ TVon facebook. After they watched the whole film, they asked to broadcast it for a year. Iz Tv is Turkey’s first and only documentary TV channel and was founded by leading photojournalists, independent documentary film makers and media professionals of the country. In  2007 they were awarded a Hotbird TV award. Iz TV remains a highly rated national documentary channel, featuring a wide range of documentary films on issues that are vitally important for the country.

One of the closing scenes of the film.

The commissioners at IZTV told me that they really appreciated the film and were curious to know more about visual anthropology (my film is the  first work of its kind to be screened on Turkish TV) pointing out that they need more films on cultural heritage and tourism that communicate local perceptions.  The editor who watched the whole documentary, commented: “ as a TV channel covering socio-political issues, tourism management and the protection of cultural heritage sites in Turkey  are among the weakest links in the country” They also found the film cinematographically compatible and engaging as it discusses a serious topic in a humorous way . They also pointed out that for the last two years they have shot all their documentaries on HD SLRs. Having it in HD, they said, was a good asset for TV broadcast.  The first of many broadcasts is on the 8th of June at 22:15pm.

Eda Elif Tibet

Hosts, Guests & Visuality in Ouzoud, Morocco

October 6, 2011

Reuben Ross

Ouzoud is a village undergoing rapid change. Once a quiet Berber community in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, the last 10 years has seen it become one of Morocco’s major tourist destinations, receiving between 70,000 and 80,000 visitors a year. The main attraction: the Cascades d’Ouzoud, a spectacular set of waterfalls in the centre of the village, mentioned in popular guidebooks and advertised in Marrakech tour company windows. Two years ago, in the sweltering heat of mid-July, I traveled three hours from Marrakech in the back of an old Mercedes taxi to visit a Dutch friend who had recently bought a guesthouse there. But, upon my arrival in Ouzoud, I was surprised by what I saw. The waterfalls were beautiful and the landscape was impressive, but what about the large pile of smoldering rubbish? What about the dirt tracks that villagers used as roads? Surely, this was not typical of a major tourist destination that seemed to promise tranquility and natural beauty. I began to wonder how I can answer these questions and how I can better understand the complex relationship between tourists and locals. So, I returned to Ouzoud this spring to conduct fieldwork and produce a short documentary film as part of my MA dissertation project in Visual Anthropology, allowing me to explore these issues in further detail.

My film, entitled Ouzoud, addresses many of these issues in the anthropology of tourism, complementing the written dissertation. But, it was also conceived as an experiment in ethnographic cinema, to find an engaging and appropriate technical, aesthetic and theoretical form that such a cinema could take. I began with the premise that all films, including documentaries, are “created, structured articulations of the filmmaker and not authentic, truthful, objective records.” Just like tourists seeking some form of visual authenticity and, at times, perhaps even believing they have found it, documentary film often pretends to show the truth when, in fact, it is portraying a heavily mediated version of reality.  By making full use of thematic and dramatic editing techniques, I deliberately brought out the contradictions of tourism and the irony of many statements made by participants. I edited the film to reveal, through a variety of interviews and scenes of Ouzoud, the hosts’ and guests’ differing conceptions of tourism (at times echoing the ironic undertones Dennis O’Rourke uses in Cannibal Tours). Imagery such as a young child riding a donkey as a modern car drives next to him and Doug exiting his shiny Land Rover followed by a shot of a beggar, combined with engaging music and dynamic editing create a film that makes powerful comments on the nature of tourism. Ultimately, I share Jean Rouch’s enduring belief that ethnographic films should not be confined to the “closed information circuit” of academia, but that, ultimately, “ethnographic film will help us to ‘share’ anthropology,” through the use of such techniques. Hopefully, the film has done that.

Hamid, a young tour guide from Ouzoud, describes the effects of tourism on his village, with the waterfalls behind him. “If there are big hotels in the village, and after there is another one and another one, then maybe we are going to have factories and we are going to have a lot of pollution,”Hamid ponders. “I like to see everything traditional, everything as it was in the past. I mean, we would like some development, but not something other.”

In the end, Ouzoud finds itself as a village at the frontiers of mass tourism, where a problematical course of change is currently unfolding before our eyes. Scattered with holiday homes, guesthouses and campsites, its markets sell souvenirs and postcards, while countless restaurants serve couscous and tagine to tourists. Even now, just months after leaving Morocco, I have learnt of a new, Western-style supermarket being built in the center of the village. But, most importantly, Ouzoud is just one of thousands of villages like it, undergoing similar changes all over the world. It is now up to visual anthropologists and other social scientists to document, interpret and present these changes in new and effective ways. Throughout my written dissertation, I asked how tourism in Ouzoud can be defined, how it broadly affects the village community and how hosts and guests perceive one another. Meanwhile, if tourism really does have the potential to catalyze such immense global change then, through the film, I have explored whether a more visual, even cinematic, study of tourism will help illustrate that.

Watch the film below or on Vimeo here!

Leave a comment