On Wednesday (Dec 4th), Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) 2019 held a DocTalk session on Sensory Ethnography at Kedai Kebun Forum. Through the discussion, the audiences were invited to understand how the sensory ethnography approach is used as a method in producing audiovisual. Moderated by Fiky Daulay (researcher of KUNCI Study Forum & Collective), the discussion featured Aryo Danusiri (filmmaker and researcher), and Muhammad Zamzam Fauzanafi (researcher and lecturer of the Department of Cultural Anthropology UGM).

Zamzam explained that sensory ethnography emerged around 1990s along with the advent of phenomenological approach in anthropology. Zamzam added “If we want to do a study on society, we should not see the society or the culture as a text. In phenomenology, culture is seen as an experience which is not to be transformed into a series of written or verbal words”.

Then, how can we approach culture through the researcher’s experience? We should not always depend on the writing method since it can be approached visually or sonically. Most people believe that creating an ethnographic work through audiovisual approach is worthwhile for sensory experience. However, there is a debate that claims writing method can also be used to describe a phenomenon or signal in a sensorial way. Zamzam cited Clifford Geertz, who explained how the scent of incense or the gathering of people makes the death of a Javanese sensorial. However, the existence of camera and technology generates an opinion that visualization brings a better sensory experience. For instance, a close-up shot which could create a three-dimensional feeling. 

According to Zamzam, sensory ethnography is about how to record or produce audiovisual work by using the filmmaker’s experiences which will take audiences to reminisce about their own similar experiences, such as “How does it feel like to wait for something? Or what are you feeling during bad weather?” said Zamzam.

There is a claim that technology could possibly represent a filmmaker’s experiences. In fact, presumption and technology are different. Eyes provide a binocular vision which is obviously different from the camera system. Therefore, Zamzam said that techniques are necessary during the shoot and editing process. “Camera could not capture the cold of winter, thus, we need to use the aperture to create a light” added Zamzam.

Meanwhile, according to Aryo, sensory ethnography is part of an understanding that experience is not solely an intermediary of systematic meaning. However, sensory ethnography is actually a moment that redefines an experience. It explains individuality and the way actors change a systematic culture. “If we want to know how it feels like drinking tea at Kedai Kebun, we should involve in the activity rather than only understanding its systematic meaning,” said Aryo.

Furthermore, Aryo explained that sensory ethnography approach is used to capture the unexpected ideas rather than the imaginable ideas. It is also applicable to record things that cannot be captured in a textual way. “Producing a work through sensory ethnography approach means interacting with body and public. We try to explain to the public that there is an invisible truth behind every issue, thus, our work is to define it” said Aryo.

Written by Nizmi Nasution

Translated by Fidel Demara

Entering the fifth day of the event, the spirit of FFD did not diminish. On Wednesday, December 5th, 2019, FFD held a DocTalk panel with the topic Hacking Methods & Ethic Issue; “Intimacy and Ethics: Universal or Contextual?” at Kedai Kebun Forum. On this occasion, participants were invited to find out more about the obsession of intimacy that led to exploitative behavior. 

This panel was opened with Dag Yngvesson as moderator and was continued by three speakers, including: Shin Eun-shil (programmer of Seoul Independent Documentary Film Festival (SIDOF), South Korea), DS Nugraheni (filmmaker, Indonesia), and Tonny Trimarsanto (filmmaker, Indonesia).

Tonny revealed that as filmmakers, we must become an integral part of the film. It is indeed difficult to win the trust of the subject until there are no more restrictions. The problem that arises is: will the intimacy lead to exploitation?

The person who deserves to first watch film is the subject. If the subject doesn’t give his/her approval, the scene has to be changed. Even so, Nugraheni has never encountered such a problem. It should be the filmmaker’s responsibility if there are any problems regarding or experienced by the subject.

Meanwhile, according to Shin, ethical issues are caused by a special relationship between the subject and the filmmaker. It’s not only about getting authorization for filmmaking and distribution. Ethical issues are usually rooted in the process of making films.

“If a problem arises from the film and is ignored, then this could be called exploitation,” said Nugraheni.

As long as we still have a good relationship with the subject, there is no problem. Intimacy will develop when there is trust. If the relationship is intimate, exploitation won’t occur because of the bond of trust between filmmaker and subject.

Written by Dinda Agita Dewi

Translated by Shiela M. Larasati

On Thursday, December 5th, 2019, the International Feature-length Documentary Competition has come to the judging phase. The eight nominees were My Lone Father (Anastasia Durand-Launay, 2018), A Donkey Called Geronimo (Bigna Tomschin 2018), Silvia (Maria Silvia Esteve, 2018), Sankara is Not Dead (Lucie Viver, 2019), Taking Place (Jérémy Gravayat, 2019), Lemebel (Joanna Reposi Garibaldi, 2019), Last Night I Saw You Smiling (Kavich Neang, 2019), and The Future Cries Beneath our Soil (Hang Pham Thu, 2018).

The three jury members involved in the decision was Thomas Barker (Associate Professor of the Universitas of Nottingham Malaysia), Karolina Lidin (Nordisk Film & TV), and Nia Dinata (Kalyana Shira Film & Foundation). They first watched the film together at Bioskop Sonobudoyo.

Afterwards, they headed to Mediterania Resto to have a discussion session in order to come to an agreement. In general, they were impressed by all the nominees.

“Personally, I am really impressed with the range of the films. Very different, not only in the subject matter, but also the different ways of using the cinematic tools, so to speak” said Karolina Lidin shortly after the jury discussion session.

International Feature-length Documentary Competition is one of the four competitions organized by this year’s Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD). The competition is dedicated to represent films that could capture and criticize the actual issues within the immediate proximity.

The winner of the International Feature-length Documentary Competition was announced on the closing night of FFD on Saturday, December 7th 2019. (kalau dipost setelah closing night).

Written by Tony Firman

Translated by M. Hafidh Al Mukmin