Do all films appear on the main screen?
All selected films are shown in Paris, but the main screen is reserved for those films where the director is in attendance at the festival. Others are “gallery” films to be shown in the adjacent gallery with small tables and chairs next to the reception area. There are two smaller screens, on one of which the gallery films (and sometimes longer versions of the main screen films) play on continuous loop. The other screen is for “on demand” viewing of films, including gallery films, main screen films that someone missed, or films that directors wish to review and discuss. If someone decides to come at the last minute the movie can sometimes be moved to the main screen, but this is not always possible. Some gallery films are also shown on the main screen by popular (filmmaker) demand when time permits! Short gallery films are often shown at the associated festivals in Africa and India because our subsidiary festivals prioritize short films. (Local board members make final choices.)
Should I submit a film?
Maybe, but not if your principal objective is to hook up with distributors, producers, and people in the film industry. This is a Director’s festival and the goal is to get filmmakers together. Consider it a “meeting of minds” in which you will sit and watch films, eat free food and drink free wine in the world’s best fringe venue, argue about the films you’ve seen, and make lasting contacts with other filmmakers. At the 2015 festival, one director got engaged, and one notable French director was present for the only public screening of his film in two decades.
If you want to come to Paris, we will make every effort to accept your film, subject to the constraints of “screen time” (and, of course, reviewer ratings). Short films are easier to program for almost all festivals. Between a two hour and a two minute film of equal quality, what would you do?
I’m a documentary filmmaker, not an academic. Should I submit a film?
Certainly! Documentary films are distinct categories (Documentary Feature; Documentary Short). Academic filmmakers would typically submit to the Academic categories (Academic Feature; Academic Short).
Are student films accepted?
Absolutely! We encourage student submissions. While there is no distinct category for student films, several were accepted at the first Ethnografilm and the audience was impressed with their quality. The organizers determined to give student films high priority for subsequent festivals. Please mention student status in your cover letter.
How can my film be selected for Ethnografilm Asia and Ethnografilm Africa?
Local organizers select the films for Ethnografilm Asia and Ethnografilm Africa. While all films from the “home festival” in Paris are considered, generally shorter films and films with regional interested are preferred.
These festivals in India and Africa are shorter than the Paris Ethnografilm–less than one day, rather than four full days. Shorter films are prioritized by the local selectors for these events. Films that play in the gallery rather on than the main screen in Paris are also eligible for inclusion and often selected for Ethnografilm Africa and Ethnografilm Asia.
Why is it called Ethnografilm?
The term ethnografilm was coined by sociologist and documentary filmmaker Greg Scott. Originally, an “ethnografilm” is one in which the rhetorical structure emerges from systematically collected ethnographic audiovisual data. However, the use of the term has expanded to include a broad variety of documentaries, including historical films, that have as their main purpose the systematic understanding of the social world.
Can I get a waiver as a student, an independent filmmaker, or with a “no budget” film?
No. Sorry about this. In the early days, we gave waivers to everyone who requested them and quickly realized we did not have sufficient funds to run the festival. So at a certain point we had to stop giving waivers. We don’t sell tickets and we do not take sponsorships. We have only submission fees to run the festival.
What are suitable topics for an ethnographic film?
The short answer is “anything”…we rely on the wisdom of our submitters! The term “ethnographic film” was once applied particularly to descriptive movies about pre-modern peoples, but this is not the modern sense. In fact, Ethnografilm particularly solicits films about the modern cultures, social practices, social problems–indeed, any topic that may be illuminated through moving images.
Is there a maximum or minimum length for film submission?
For our Academic Short and Documentary Short category, the maximum length of film is 20 minutes. For our Academic Feature and Documentary Feature the minimum length is 20 minutes with no maximum length. Shorter films are generally preferred–if your film has a “festival” (long) version and a “broadcast” (reduced) version, please let us know.
What is an academic film?
An “academic” film is generally considered to be one with an academic or educator in a principal role (editor, director, producer). However, you should contact the festival if there are questions about your submission in this category.
Can animated films be considered for Ethnografilm?
Yes! During the first season (2014) at least two animations received high ratings by reviewers and were screened in Paris. The determination of the advisory council was that the systematic approach taken by the filmmakers and their contribution to understanding the social world through film merited inclusion. The reaction of the filmmakers in the audience was also extremely positive. It was determined that animations should be included in future festivals.
What if my film is screened in the gallery?
Since the first festival we prioritize films by directors who are present for the main screen. That said, 95% of the films accepted play on the main screen, but when filmmakers aren’t coming, we don’t schedule them until the last minute. All films, regardless, (1) do screen, (2) get laurels, (3) are featured in the main program, (4) have an original artwork made by the Art for Film program (it is displayed on the walls at Cine 13 for the week of the festival and filmmakers may take it home), and (5) are eligible to be shown at Ethnografilm Africa and Ethnografilm India. The locals there are involved in that selection and these tend to be shorter films because those festivals are only one day.
Truth be told, quite a number of filmmakers spend nearly all (or, at least, way too much!) time in the gallery because directors can sit and drink wine and talk while watching.
Will my expenses be paid if my film gets accepted?
No. Sorry about this one. Ethnografilm has been an “all volunteer” festival since its inception in 2012. All of us pay our own travel and lodging costs, including the festival officers and advisory board. We do provide free food at the theatre and free (or almost free) wine. We don’t sell tickets and we do not take sponsorships. We have only submission fees to run the festival.