The Athens Ethnographic Film Festival’s aim has always been to allow our audience to truly connect with the genre of ethnographic film and the anthropological approach to film. By and large, we believe that such a connection has indeed happened thanks to the Festival and, upon seeing the considerable response and interest on behalf of the audience, we deemed necessary to proceed to the formation of an academic framework in order to share the theoretical and practical dimensions of this approach.

As part of this plan, the Festival and the Netherlands Institute at Athens, in collaboration with a number of Dutch universities, such as the University of Leiden and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, have been organizing an intensive summer school on visual anthropology. Our aim is to offer an overview of current debates and research topics in visual anthropology and ethnography, as well as the experience of filming in a highly diverse and multi-layered urban setting.

The 3-week summer school schedules a series of seminars and workshops, as well as practical work on aspects of visual anthropology. Thirty students from all over the world are selected and split in groups, in order to shoot short films in various areas of Athens. Some of these films are then screened as part of the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, a few months later.

Nowadays, visual anthropology has become an almost indispensable tool for anyone engaging in ethnographic research, visual analysis, studies of material culture, or critical engagements with cinema, photography and other forms of cultural display. It is the first time that such an academic initiative focuses on visual anthropology and ethnographic film theory in an urban setting and includes practical work, through the making of the short films by our students. These film productions enrich the discourse about the city’s contemporary reality, since the diverse themes chosen by the students each year raise significant social issues and capture their viewpoint about many “Greek realities” in a groundbreaking way.