After six successful editions and the respective steps forward they signified for the Festival, 2016 had the greatest step forward in store. Thanks to our sponsors’ kind support, our biggest dream finally came true: for the first time in its lifetime the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival moved its screenings to a cinema, thus ensuring the best screening conditions for its audience, as well as an ideal venue for socializing and networking. It was also the first time the films were subtitled in Greek, which meant that our audience grew larger and more diverse in ages and background. Last but not least, we were delighted to welcome several filmmakers who discussed their work with the audience.


From November 23rd to November 27th, the Astor cinema hosted the more than 50 films in this year’s line-up, offering a panoramic view of the recent world productions in the ethnographic film field and opening up windows with intriguing vistas of the world. Films from the US, Russia, Brazil, France, Tajikistan, Cyprus, Turkey and, of course, Greece, chronicled and analysed issues that address the everyday reality of people and groups all over the world, in a way that only visual anthropology can capture.


True to its educational mission, the Festival, with the support of the Division of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Ministry of Culture, inaugurated morning screenings for groups of schoolchildren. Our main goal was introducing the children to ethnographic film as a fresh way of approaching knowledge, as well as to the intangible cultural assets that are testimonials of the traditional, folk and intellectual culture. Noted anthropologist and filmmaker Anna Grimshaw as well as filmmaker-professor Alexandra Tilman also presented fascinating masterclasses on different theoretical and technical aspects of ethnographic film.


Robert Gardner’s masterpiece “Forest of Bliss” also held a special place in this year’s programme, as a special screening celebrating 30 years since its release, while this year’s tributed included the “Through Cyprus with the cinematic camera” themed section, curated by anthropologist Pafsanias Karathanasis and museologist Despo Pasia, and “Ethnographic Views on Gendered Roles in Society”, a series of screenings realized within the framework of the operational program “Public Sector Reform”, co-funded by the European Union and national resources.
The cinema filled to capacity, the lively post-screening chat, the encounters with festival regulars as well as new friends, the festival team growing larger and the Festival’s acceptance by the anthropological world and beyond give us the strength we need to continue making plans so that the Festival remains an important mark in the cultural map of Athens and Greece. See you next year!

A selection of films that were produced by Summer School students. The Summer School is being co-organized by Ethnofest and the Netherlands Insitute at Athens (NIA).

The Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports is happy to be working again with the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, a renowned organisation which screens and champions Greek and international ethnographic productions.

Our Division, which is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, attempts to take initiatives and realise ideas in order to raise awareness among the citizens, primarily the young, when it comes to intangible cultural heritage as a key component of our cultural identity and the collective self-awareness in Greek society. To this end, we not only welcome, but also actively encourage the democratic and equal dialogue with the communities and entities that have to do with intangible cultural heritage. Ethnographic cinema, as a means to depict anthropological discourse making use of the power of the moving image, can be the perfect reason to not only get in touch with a different cultural experience, but to also look in the mirror -or, rather, the screen!- at our own selves.

We also aim to broaden the scientific conversation about the managing of the intangible cultural heritage in a rapidly changing world. This year’s tribute to the intangible cultural heritage at the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival was curated by social anthropologist Athina Peglidou, who happily accepted our proposal and whom we wholeheartedly thank.

This year, our partnership with Ethnofest includes pilot educational screenings of ethnographic documentaries to students of primary and secondary school students (November 24th and 25th, 2016). Realising this idea is for all of us here at the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports an interesting challenge, since we think that connecting ethnographic cinema with education could prove to be valuable and extremely beneficial. Our ambition is to use ethnographic documentaries as a tool for introducing students to intangible cultural heritage, broadening their cultural education and waking them up to their role as active citizens. The moving image, which is so familiar to children, can also be crucial for their meeting of different cultural experiences, a revelation of a new way of approaching knowledge and interpretations of the world. For this reason we support and promoted partnerships that move towards this direction, we seek a substantial dialogue with the educational community and we hope to reinforce similar attempts in the future. We wish the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival the very best!

Villi Fotopoulou
Head of the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

The relationship between tangible and intangible cultural heritage and ethnographic film worked through a great quid pro quo, a mutual reciprocation. The scholars (historians, anthropologists, folklorists, museologists) demanded by the image specialists the specific certification of a visible proof that could give the reason for their occurrence, while filmmakers through their involvement with the cultural heritage accrued to the validity of a national or global mission and a idiotope, a registered location and the objects of vision. The collusion on the relationship between visible and real, appointed additional relations of inventory and archiving, preservation, authenticity, imitation and counterfeit, and multiplied these formalities-practices and cultural reality of management. I hope the films at the center of the Intangible Cultural Heritage section of the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, “Unity Through Culture” (C.Suhr, T.Otto, 59min, 2011) and “A Celebration of Origins” (E. Douglas Lewis, T. Asch, P. Asch, 45 min, 1992) will be provide the basis for discussion and consideration regarding the belief in the autonomy of ritual practice and rouse “suspicions” as to the conditions of their production and reproduction.

Athena Peglidou

Through Cyprus with the Cinematic Camera

Cyprus presents us with an idiosyncratic case of a geographical, cultural and affective space. Often positioned on the fringe of the ‘East’ or the ‘West’, the Mediterranean as well as Europe, it is also a space where, due to its small size, social activity often acquires specific dynamics and manifestations. At the same time, contemporary Greece has developed a somewhat special relation to Cyprus, formulated mainly through affiliations with the Greek-Cypriot community and its perceptions of the Cyprus Problem. As a result, Greece often ignores the historical complexities and the multiplicity of contemporary reality of the country’s inhabitants. In putting together this year’s Themed Section of the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival our aim was thus to screen films and initiate discussions on certain aspects of the ‘familiar’ yet ‘distant’ Cyprus, which are still largely unknown to audiences in Greece.

Looking at this relationship from an anthropological perspective, it could be said that for Greece, Cyprus is a familiar Other. The notion of the familiar Other, which to a large extent we believe reflects contemporary social, cultural, even political relations between Cyprus and Greece, becomes particularly conspicuous when we consider language. Due to the fact that it is only superficially known in Greece, the Cypriot linguistic variety allows for the clear marking of some of the defining lines of familiarity and otherness between the two cultural spaces, while it also showcases the ethnographic aspect of the films included in the Themed Section.

The first visual renderings of Cyprus on the photographic and the cinematic film were imprinted with the colonial imagery of the place and its people. Subsequently, visuality about Cyprus followed various trajectories which did not always reflect social and historical changes: for example, up until the previous decade, the Cypriot experiences of modernity and post-modernity were almost banned from the country’s visual representations. For the title of this Themed Section, we appropriate and hybridise the title of the first extensive photographic rendering of Cyprus, produced by John Thompson and published under the title Through Cyprus with the Camera in the Autumn of 18781. By doing so, we aim to highlight the pivotal role of the colonial gaze in the process of creating the dominant cinematic construction of Cyprus. However, the Themed Section includes not only ethnographic films but also documentaries, fiction and video art in an attempt to investigate various cinematic genres and narratives, composed and articulated from the end of the colonial era, in 1960, to the present.

During the last five decades or so, the Cyprus Problem has obviously been centrally positioned within these cinematic narratives. Nonetheless, audiences of the Themed Section will see that we chose not to include films which position the Problem as their main or exclusive theme, since such films are characterised by what Constandinides and Papadakis call ‘the excess of the political’2: an excess, which more often than not, dominates narratives about Cyprus and which does more to preclude than facilitate an understanding of contemporary Cypriot society. Although these films form perhaps the largest part of cinematic production in Cyprus, we attempt to highlight films which either acquire alternative starting points in their approach to the Problem, thus looking awry at and through it, or incorporate it within other thematic scopes in ‘atypical’ ways. In this way, we are able to respond to a growing movement within Cypriot society, which seeks referents beyond the Cyprus Problem, and is evident in areas beyond the cinematic and the photographic, such as the visual arts, playwriting, literature and music.

A related issue which preoccupied us extensively in the process of putting together this Themed Section is the presence of the Turkish-Cypriot community both in front and behind the camera. Although the issue emerges all the more intensely within Cyprus, dominant narratives about the country, and particularly those which reach Greece, continue to present primarily Greek-Cypriot perceptions of the society on the north side of the dividing line. Contrary to our aspirations and our efforts, which were geared towards including more films from and about the north part of the country, the rather restricted production as well as technical difficulties limited our choices. We do however want to point out that cinematic production on the Turkish-Cypriot community and the north part of Cyprus is on the rise. Examples of this growing trend are included in this Section.

An equally important issue is the cultural diversity of Cyprus, which has been a historically prominent characteristic of the island, as well as the linking of this cultural plurality to the issue of present-day migrant realities and trajectories. The growing engagement with migrant communities in Cyprus is captured in a number of films, especially those originating from the south part of the country, thus forming another cinematic trend included in the Section.

Aware of our task as curators of the special Themed Section of the Ethnographic Film Festival of Athens, we aimed to prioritise those films which approach issues such as the above through the lens of the everyday. In other words, films which, adopt an ethnographic gaze even if they haven’t been made by anthropologists.

Pafsanias Karathanasis, Social anthropologist
Despo Pasia, Museologist – Museum Educator


John Thompson 1985 [1879]. Through Cyprus with the Camera in the Autumn of 1878. (London: Trigraph)
Costas Constandinides & Yiannis Papadakis (eds.). 2014. Cypriot Cinemas: Memory, Conflict and Identity in the Margins of Europe. New York & London: Bloomsbury.

The “Ethnographic Views on Gendered Roles in Society” section is realised within the framework of the Operational Program “Public Sector Reform” and is co-funded by the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources.


For this section, we also invited the Centre for Gender Studies (Panteion University, School of Political Sciences,Department of Social Policy) to take part in the screenings. The post-graduate students Aliki Theodosiou, Melina Klafanti and Athena Papanagiotou will be introducing the films, with Carolin Phillip acting as co-ordinator. All of the screenings are free of charge.

School screening

Screenings of selected ethnographic documentaries for primary and secondary school students in collaboration with the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ministry of Culture and Sports.

School screening

Screenings of selected ethnographic documentaries for primary and secondary school students in collaboration with the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ministry of Culture and Sports.

School screening

Screenings of selected ethnographic documentaries for primary and secondary school students in collaboration with the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ministry of Culture and Sports.

School screening

Screenings of selected ethnographic documentaries for primary and secondary school students in collaboration with the Division of the Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ministry of Culture and Sports.

"At Low Tide" - special screening for the participants of the masterclass

Masterclass with Anna Grimshaw

Event about Peter Loizos

Event about Peter Loizos at Spiti tis Kiprou (Ksenofontos 2A, Athens) in collaboration with the Social Anthropology and History Department of the University of the Aegean.

All-day event, part of the “Through Cyprus with the Movie Camera” themed section

"Cadences" - special screening for the participants of the masterclass with Alexandra Tilman

Masterclass with Alexandra Tilman








Organized by the Athens Anthropological Society – Ethnofest

Konstantinos Aivaliotis

Executive Director
Nikos Sfakianakis

Head of Programming
Christos Varvantakis

Curators of the section “Through Cyprus with the Cinematic Camera”
Pafsanias Karathanasis, Despo Pasia

Advisory committee
Kostis Kalantzis, Tanya Mamali, Loukas Koubouris, Konstantina Konstantopoulou

Operations Manager
Christina Liapi

Press & communication 
Natasha Pandi

Traffic supervisor
Konstantinos Diamantis

Assistant traffic supervisor
Christina Stampoulidou

Financial Coordinator
Matthaios Karagiotis

Production assistants
Konstantina Konstantopoulou, Nikolas Papadimitriou, Loukas Koubouris, Elena Georgiadi, Harris Kalamoutsos, Dafni Kokkori

Poster design
Takis Angelopoulos

Promotional material design
Nikoletta Kanellou

Yannis Papadakis – PROJECT TITLING