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Attending GIEFF (German International Ethnographic Film Festival) at the Time of the Pandemic

Matjaz Pinter


This paper draws on experiences and lessons from GIEFF 2020, an ethnographic film festival that took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The GIEFF organizers decided to stream instead of screen films, and created an online streaming event that changed the nature of the lived experience of the festival. In this report, I follow the main characteristics of this transformation and reconsider some of the tenets of ethnographic inquiry into ethnographic film festivals that should reach outside of the cinema hall in order to understand film festivals as global events, often establishing their own virtual spaces.

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1Different images come to mind when we talk about film festivals: big cinema halls, red carpets, crowds of fans and large audiences queuing to buy tickets for the screenings. While these images have historically dominated the media coverage of large film festivals, the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted how we see these events. Our representations of film festivals before the pandemic were guided by images from iconic film festivals (such as Cannes or Venice), but very different images come to mind when we talk about film festivals in the times of Covid. This is especially true for ethnographic film festivals that are much more modest in size and do not fit the mainstream representations evoked by the large players on the festival circuit. In order to distinguish between different film festivals, Marijke de Valck (2007) proposed to look at different parameters, such as size (number of films shown or the number of visitors), outreach (local, national, international), and specialisation (identity, genre etc.). What also comes to mind as one observes the structure of ethnographic film festivals is the festival environment, which often resembles small independent festivals that commonly operate without significant private or public financial support. Although ethnographic film festivals come in all shapes and sizes, the defining characteristics perhaps lie in their relation to the public. The public sphere of ethnographic film festivals, in contrast to the bourgeois public sphere of bigger festivals, forms a subaltern counterpublic (Fraser 1990), thereby becoming subaltern festivals (Wong 2016: 90). In the following discussion, I consider the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the organisation and lived experience of the German International Ethnographic Film Festival (GIEFF). In the year that has significantly changed the structure of the public sphere, GIEFF’s online experiment has shown us that reaching a wider audience via online streaming has a potential to change ethnographic cinema’s ambiguous role with the public.

2In this festival report, I would like to briefly address some of the characteristics of the German International Film Festival (GIEFF) in general, and more specifically, as it developed in 2020 when the festival moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thereby re-introducing itself as a virtual space. By looking at the festival at the exceptional times of the pandemic, I draw on some of the lessons we have learned from the online experience at GIEFF. There are two sides to this story. The first side touches upon the organisational structures and the preparation for the festival that was in full swing as Germany and other European countries imposed tougher lockdown restrictions in March 2020. The festival’s move to stream the films online brought into question crucial aspects of festival organisation that have changed its defining characteristics. While this radically changed the ways the festival is experienced locally, it also reminds us to think about film festivals in terms of ‘the realm of the global’ (Stringer 2001; Elsaesser 2005; de Valck 2007). In this sense, the pandemic has demonstrated that festivals are global events; their deep structures are embedded in wider social networks. In the same way as the political, social and cultural topics of the ethnographic films reflect the times we live in, the changing global contexts ­are equally reflected in the way festivals are organised and experienced. By exploring the festival's organisational side, this perspective allows a deep-dive into the second side of the story, which brings out other meanings that formed around GIEFF in 2020. This observation, informed by my own participation at the festival as both an audience member and intern, and with the help of conversations I had with other festival participants, helps me to draw on the changed realities of the festival.

3GIEFF 2020 was unique in many ways, but it was most significantly marked by the Covid-19 pandemic that took the world by surprise at the start of the year. GIEFF, like many other public events, faced a particularly difficult challenge: in what way, despite the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, could the festival take place? The festival’s organisation committee decided to move the festival to an online platform and stream instead of screen films. I look at the particular challenges the organisers had to face while moving the festival online and the changes this brought to the development of the festival as a public event. While this report focuses on GIEFF as a site of cultural performance, and a temporal cultural event that establishes rules of its own, I also emphasise the festival’s role in wider networks, where events such as festivals become important actors that sustain entire network of film practices, places and people (de Valck 2007). With this perspective in mind, I argue that in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival environment at GIEFF 2020 calls for a reassessment of the ways we think about film festivals today.

GIEFF: A Brief History

4The origins of GIEFF are connected to the critique of a more traditional and narrow approach to ethnographic film, put forward by the Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film (IWF, translated as: Institute for Scientific Film). In the 1980s, following new trends in ethnographic film, anthropologists related to the institute began to broaden the collection managed by the IWF, called Encyclopaedia Cinematographica (EC). This soon led to the idea of organising an independent ethnographic film festival (Engelbrecht 2017: 120-21). The first festival took place in September 1993, and since 1994, GIEFF has been organised as a biannual event.

5Since its early beginnings GIEFF expanded its international social network mainly due to the fact that it was one of the first ethnographic festivals to host a student film section, which remains the central feature of the festival until today. According to Engelbrecht, one of the festival's co-founders, the student film competition has been the most exciting and lively part of the festival (Engelbrecht 2017: 121). Looking at the festival's description and program selection, it seems that GIEFF has stayed faithful to its initial broad area of focus. In the 2020 introduction to the festival, the organisers wrote the following: “The festival promotes documentary cinema with a special emphasis on new films, videos or interactive media dealing with socio-cultural processes in a wide sense of the term” (GIEFF website). This broad specification has been one of the founding principles of GIEFF. Moreover, the organizers entrusted the film selection to a diversified and experienced international selection committee, rather than to rigid written criteria, which was the practice of the institute in the past. Furthermore, the festival selection committee has integrated international visual anthropology scholars into the festival’s organizational structure. This position is traditionally occupied only once, and by no means more than two times. This also means that there has been constant development coming from the festival’s core, which helped the event grow continuously throughout the years. Indeed, this can be seen in the increasing number of submissions throughout the years. In 1994, the number of film submissions was 114, in 2002 241, and in recent years the festival has been seeing more than 300 submissions. While this number has been rising, the number of films screened at the festival has remained more or less the same (Engelbrecht 2017: 122).

  • 1 GIEFF is the founding member of ‘Coordinating Anthropological Film Festival in Europe’ (CAFFE).

6The festival’s break from a narrower understanding of ethnographic film was a key event in the festival’s history (early 1990s), and since then GIEFF continues to grow and integrate itself in international fields of anthropology and film1. A question soon emerged that is often troubling for ethnographic filmmakers and festival organisers: which audiences do the selected films address best? Here again, GIEFF’s focus on the student competition program has proven to be essential, and until today, the festival has remained one of the most relevant hubs for young filmmakers and visual anthropologists in Germany and abroad. Over the years, the “GIEFF has turned into a meeting point for young student ethnographic filmmakers, anthropology students interested in films” (Engelbrecht 2017: 123). With this focus in mind, GIEFF continues to deliver to a young specialised audience of graduate students which interests bridge anthropology and film.

Ethnographic Festival as a Field Site During the Pandemic

7GIEFF is usually held in Paulinerkirche, a church that is a part of Göttingen University. The church’s hall, which is an event space, has been the festival’s main venue since 2008. In February 2020, it seemed like the festival organisation would continue according to the usual plan. The organisers have established a number of contacts and protocols in the city of Göttingen that facilitates the most crucial organisational aspects of the festival. The GIEFF Association (founded in 2007) is managed by the four main organisers of the festival. In addition to the selection committee, a small number of volunteers and interns help with the various organisational activities. Although the organisation procedures vary from year to year, the organisers have pointed out that the affiliation with the University and contacts in the city allow them to prepare the venue and book the hotel rooms for filmmakers and other guests with relative ease. It is not surprising that GIEFF, a festival that relies mostly on small sponsors and donors, depends on the already established social and professional networks in Göttingen. What usually follows the organisation schedule is a small marketing strategy that establishes the festival’s presence locally and online. Just before announcing the program for the 2020 festival, the Covid situation escalated in Europe. Although Germany was not one of the worst-hit countries during the first wave, the organisers needed to react to the ongoing situation.

GIEFF goes online

GIEFF goes online

Design by Kanny Li

8“We were very early and very quick”, Engelbrecht points out on the GIEFF’s decisions that they moved the festival online. She continues, emphasizing the novelty of their decision: “It was so early that we really had no examples how to do it – or even know if it can be done”. These decisions were made at end of February 2020, a time when there was still much room for speculation on what is going to happen in the coming months. Prior to the end of February, the organising committee had already finished with the early preparations for the festival, including the booking of the main venue and the hotels. The early decision to move the festival online complicated the logistics involved with these practical decisions. The bookings had to be cancelled, and the festival’s marketing strategy broke down alongside the lockdown restrictions. Posters, leaflets, the program and other printable materials typically distributed at the festival and in the town of Göttingen suddenly had little use. In other words, the well-known paths that the organisers have pawed to simplify the organisation of the festival were suddenly unavailable. The Covid lockdown recontextualized the strategical and organizational demands on the festival organizers, bringing to the foreground unexpected challenges that needed to be solved in a relatively short time.

9There was little knowledge at the time about the consequences of Covid for the film festival circuit. However, what was certain is that the interactions between filmmakers and film festival-goers would not take its usual form. A large portion of the debate on how to move the festival online at GIEFF revolved around establishing an appropriate platform to serve as a space where audiences and filmmakers could interact. The first step in this process was to find the streaming platform capable of live streaming large amounts of data. This came with further concerns about copyright and pirating issues. There are certain measures festivals can take in order to protect filmmakers. GIEFF, on the one hand, decided to register the audiences before the festival, and on the other hand, communicated the new conditions and renegotiated the screening rights with the filmmakers. However, concerns about copyright and piracy cannot be completely dissolved, given the possibility that the viewers can privately record the films. In the end, only two films dropped out of the original program, and the others were organised in an online ‘mediathek’ using the Vimeo platform. While this presented an option to stream the films to the pre-registered spectators, this platform alone was not sufficient for establishing communication channels between different parties involved in the festival.

10To recreate the interactive part of the festival setting virtually, the GIEFF organisers looked for a stable, simple, and intuitive communication platform. Not only film festivals, but university and work environments were facing the same problem as they moved into virtual spaces: How can the vibrant setting of a festival, academic, or workplace venue be recreated in an online environment?

11It was at this juncture that I entered the festival organisation environment. As a first-time intern at GIEFF, I had no previous experience of the festival. Moreover, I arrived in Germany at the time of the lockdown, so my experience of the festival was limited to the digital world. In my small Berlin room, facing the screen, I participated in my first ethnographic film festival, from the armchair, so to speak. I undertook to participate in GIEFF as part of an Erasmus traineeship program as part of the Ph.D. program at Maynooth University. The exchange outcomes of this program were to learn more about GIEFF in general, and to gain relevant expert experience in festival organization. However, I recognised the additional potential of the situation, which offered itself as an opportunity to establish a relationship to the festival as an object of study.

12The organisers with whom I was in close contact at the time, particularity Beate Engelbrecht, the festival’s international coordinator, made it possible to extend the learning process into an arena of ethnographic inquiry by giving me access to the festival’s inside environment during this ‘online experiment’. Establishing an ethnographic film festival as the object of study in the time of the pandemic was not an easy task. Methodologically, to get a sense of a festival in its particular locality, scholars have proposed that ‘being there’ in real-time is essential to understand how the festival is actually experienced (Lee 2016: 122). In the case of GIEFF 2020, the spatial dimension was challenging to grasp: there was no venue, and although the organisers had ensured me access to ‘the field’, it was hard to pin down what the field really was. This is perhaps best exemplified by the new spatial dimension of the event. The registration process, the Q&A sessions, and the audience's participation virtual environment gave us highly distributed spatial coordinates, as people connected to the online platform from all around the world. From a research perspective, it was impossible to grasp all the spatial and temporal intersections of the online festival form. All the more so due to the tensions between the distribution of spectator location, in general, and the private nature of the individual viewing experience. Indeed, the isolation of the spectator experience to the private domain kept it out of reach for ethnographic inquiry based on participant observation.

13Although this drastically changes the arena of inquiry and breaks the festival into indigestible units, I believe that the breakdown of the traditional festival setting should not lead us away from the ethnographical inquiry in the digital world. Anthropology has developed tools that are well suited for studying online communities. As anthropologists, we are equipped to study the transformations that new technologies bring to the field, including the embeddedness of online environments into existing practices and power relations (Wilson and Peterson 2002). In this alternative version of the festival, where experimentation was the default mode of operation, I realised that my own positionality might compensate for the issue of gaining access to the dispersed field site's micro-units. Working at the festival as an intern allowed me to bring together two opposing positions: observing the festival as an outsider and insider.

14From an insider position, I gained access to parts of the festival that comprised issues that demanded quick and ad hoc resolutions. The unpredictable and virtual nature of the pandemic put us into a position where collaborative work and constant communication formed the backbone of the festival. Most of our organisational activities, such as briefings, meetings and test sessions, were done through an online video conferencing platform called Jitsi. This platform was chosen due to the fact that it does not require online registration and it is thus possible to join the video conference call only by following a link. The task of interns, while we were getting to know the platform and all its uses, was to prepare and organise the Q&A sessions, where filmmakers from all over the world (30 different nationalities from 42 countries), participated in discussing their own and their colleague’s films. While, for the most part we followed a general timeline, there was always a certain contingency to the organisational process. It was therefore not surprising to be confronted by technological and organizational challenges, given that the organisation of Jitsi meetings put together people from several time zones. However, from my position, the Jitsi platform became an important arena of inquiry and gave me access to the digital field, enabling me to do some virtual ‘deep hanging out’ with fellow filmmakers attending the festival.

15From an outsider position, I observed how the online festival transformed my little room into a private festival venue. I scrolled through the festival program on the website, and planned my own schedule to watch some of the films during the live stream, and then joined in for the Q&A sessions that followed on the Jitsi platform. Although the films were made available online for the time of the festival for all registered users, in this way, I had a chance to catch the discussion between filmmakers, the films of which were streamed in the same film block. By doing this, GIEFF was putting in conversation the filmmakers that have tackled a similar topic, albeit often filming in different parts of the world. GIEFF 2020 organised the festival comprising the following topics: Questions of Belonging, Women Coping with Crisis, Iranian Impressions, Women’s Perspectives, Dealing with Heritage, Impacts of Urbanisation, Gender Roles, Rebellions in Focus, Religious Practice in India, Chances of Surviving, and Guardians of Productive Landscapes. The response to the online GIEFF was quite overwhelming. More than 1110 people registered for the festival, which is at least three times the usual festival turnaround. While it certainly made a difference that the festival was held online, and was thus accessible worldwide, the fact that GIEFF did not charge an entrance fee also played an important role in gaining the attention of new audiences.

GIEFF: A Quick Overview of the Statistics

16One of the insider’s insights that are interesting to explore when studying online festivals is the quantitative data gathered from the analytics of websites and other platforms. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide us with data that give additional insight to the public’s engagement with the online content. While these platforms give us an idea of how many unique impressions and clicks the festival’s online content has generated, it is perhaps more interesting to observe the actual streaming analytics data that in the case of GIEFF was available through Vimeo’s analytics tools.

  • 2 Although here I have to mention that GIEFF has introduced Travelling GEIFF, as a way to tackle the (...)

17I would like to briefly address GIEFF’s registration system, which is an essential tool for the festival to gather information about the audiences. GIEFF 2020 streamed 55 films from filmmakers of 30 different nationalities and 42 countries. This quite large number of films has engaged a record number of online spectators: more than 1100 people registered, and the Vimeo analytics page recorder 3678 unique views over the whole period of festival (May 13–17). The characteristic of GIEFF is that it usually delivers ethnographic films to a local audience in Germany, the students and residents of Göttingen, and to a smaller degree, filmmakers, students and others from Germany and abroad that visit the event. The GIEFF 2020 was different in this regard, and for the first time in its history, the festival became a truly global event. While most of the registered audiences still came from Germany and the European Union, we saw a number of registrations from places that are typically outside of GIEFF’s reach. This corresponded with the variety of films that were screened at GIEFF; films that emerge (often collaboratively) from ethnographic fieldworks, but less often make it back to the places where they were filmed. In this regard, GIEFF 2020 was a remarkable event that created an opportunity for filmmakers and local audiences to participate in an event that is usually outside of their typical reach2, welcoming audiences from places such as Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Georgia, Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Japan, India and many more.

The Experiences and Lessons of GIEFF 2020

18As mentioned earlier, GIEFF has become an important hub for young filmmakers and visual anthropologists to share their work and communicate their experiences of filmmaking: the different approaches to using visual methods during fieldwork, and discuss broader topics concerning visual anthropology today. An interesting discussion involving these topics emerged during the festival with filmmakers that are not anthropologists by profession, but the works of which convey anthropological topics. While GIEFF mostly features films made by students of visual anthropology, among other already established anthropologists that use visual methods in their work, it also engages a wider field of documentary film, media studies and film studies. From these ‘outside’ positions, festival participants have posed a relevant question, echoing that posed by Jay Ruby (1975: 109): “What makes ethnographic film different from other documentary and non-fiction films?”. In doing so, festival participants have asked us to reflect on the difference between anthropological film, and films about anthropology. In this sense, I believe that the outside observers are right to posit this distinction: there are still a number of films that engage with anthropological topics, but are not themselves anthropological films. Ethnographic film when done in the ‘right’ way should start to replace the knowledge created by the written word: it becomes an ‘arena of inquiry’ (MacDougall 1995: 129).

19Similar questions resonated throughout the festival, and, to my mind, this expresses ethnographic cinema’s ambiguous role with the public. While these questions are usually more pertinent within the discipline, they became much more visible when the works emerging within the field engage with the public. This, I believe, is the critical lesson of GIEFF 2020. Giving a chance for the wider public to engage with ethnographic films creates new meanings for films that are usually seen within a more specialised public space. Holding ethnographic film festivals outside of the context of an anthropologically informed audience challenges the discipline’s long-standing problem of conveying anthropological knowledge to an unspecialised audience. In this sense, it was interesting to observe the new meanings of each individual film that fully emerges only through its relation to the public. As the Barthian approach to film suggests, film is a dual process of production and reception. Mermin has proposed that "film perceived in this way is never completely controlled by filmmakers, subjects or viewers", (Mermin 1997: 49), arguing that the creation of meaning should be understood as a process and the film as the experience which creates it by establishing relationships between the spectators, subjects and the filmmaker (ibid). The ethnographic film festival enables this relationship between the spectators, filmmakers, the film and its subjects to unfold.

20Several filmmakers and participants pointed out that the films streamed at the festival were able to reach a different kind of audience, and how the distribution of films in this new contexts has modulated its reception. A film student at the Berlin’s film academy (DFFB) has reported that his film has gained a new life after being presented at GIEFF. Although the film had been filmed with specific anthropological topics in mind, it had not so far been distributed on the ‘ethnographic film festival circuit’. After it’s screening at GIEFF, it was picked up by other festivals and the filmmaker was contacted by two universities that wished to screen the film in their visual anthropology classes. The filmmaker was surprised to see how the film, presented in this new context, gained more attention than at documentary film festivals. Following this conversation, another film student shared how exposure at GIEFF has enabled her to present the film to an European audience, and was thrilled to discuss her experience with fellow students that joined the online discussion following each thematic block. These online meetups proved to be the heart of the online version of GIEFF, and soon began to resemble the actual (although virtual) festival setting. Here again, GIEFF’s role as the hub for young filmmakers and visual anthropologists proved to be central. However, this setting lacked the usual direct engagement between filmmakers and audiences that is perhaps the central element of small and cosy festivals such as GIEFF, as spectators could only participate in the Q&A sessions by sending their questions and remarks to the moderators that would then introduce them during the conversation. The backbone of this interaction was a longer process of establishing the links between filmmakers and setting up of the virtual environment that was done by the organisers and interns during festival preparations. In order to make sure that all technical aspects of the new online tool are functioning, and that the participants are acquainted with the virtual meeting room, test conference calls were being held a week in advance of the festival. This precautionary measure has helped us to deal with unexpected issues that could occur during the Q&A sessions, all of which were streamed live.

Virtual Q&A session, GIEFF 2020

Virtual Q&A session, GIEFF 2020

Virtual hanging out via Jitsi.

A screenshot by Matjaz Pinter

21While technical and some other minor issues still occurred, the fact that GIEFF 2020 was able to establish a virtual space in which the audience and the filmmakers were interacting in real-time (and not only through pre-recorded statements) made it unique. Anyone interested in how this interaction unfolded is now able to watch the excerpts of online discussions and the award ceremonies of GIEFF 2020 by visiting the festivals official website​.


GIEFF 2020 Online Discussions
Credits : Recorded by GIEFF e.V., edited by Matjaz Pinter

Video link:​501244051


GIEFF 2020 Online Award Ceremony
Credits : Recorded by GIEFF e.V.

Video link:​420232331

24In Germany the situation slowly improved, and the lockdown restrictions were eased as the year progressed into May. This, however was not the case for other parts of the world, and festival participants have often expressed in what ways they are coping with the lockdown. In the year when online virtual meetups have become the norm, we were not yet aware that GIEFF’s online experiment would become a model for other events, lessons and seminars, and other forms of ‘virtual hanging-out’. At the same time, many of us have become comfortable with virtual spaces, and online meetups. In the last year, the experiences that felt unusual during GIEFF have now become much more familiar. GIEFF’s online experiment has taught us that much more is possible in the exceptional times of the pandemic, and as Nadine Wanono boldly asserts: “If GIEFF is the first ethnographic film festival to opt for an online organisation, it will be up to us, future spectators, to invent new ways of sharing discussions, ideas, emotions revealing our presently endangered humanity”. (GIEFF’s catalogue 2020)


25In this paper, I have discussed some of the main characteristics of the GIEFF 2020 online experiment. My own positionality as an outsider and insider of the film festival helped me to grasp some of the organizational aspects of the festival as well as the experiences of participants. Although I argue that an online film festival can become an arena of ethnographic inquiry, the GIEFF 2020 experiment shows us that, without the experience of ‘being there’, our understanding of the festival’s ethnographic real is limited. For example, the shared spectator experience is lost, and with it the experience of being an audience insider. By watching from our own private spaces, the relationship between the film and its audience is more ambiguous than in the small, and intimate cinema halls.

26On the other hand, the GIEFF experience brings important lessons for the future. Online film streaming can increase participation of traditionally excluded audiences, and democratize the distribution of ethnographic films. In this way, the ethnographic film festivals might also find a broader audience and engage a public outside of the specialised field of visual anthropology and/or documentary film. Additionally, by trying to create a virtual festival space, GIEFF has demonstrated that not all is lost when we are forced to reimagine festivals in exceptional times. The most important lesson that we have learned at GIEFF, in my view, is that it is worthwhile to maintain the elementary relationships that create meaning in film. By this, I mean that both experiences of production and spectatorship connect through the medium of the festival. If this connection is preserved, like in GIEFF’s online real-time Q&A’s and online meetups, the festival’s central aims are fulfilled.

27GIEFF’s online experiment has shown us that there are advantages and disadvantages of hosting film festivals online. The online version has increased the festival’s reach, and created an event that was not bound to individual screenings, as audiences worldwide were able to access films for the period of the whole festival. By creating a virtual festival space, the festival has also enhanced its role as the hub for young anthropologists and filmmakers, and broadened its relationship to the public in a time, where some other festivals decided to close their doors. Although, the experience of GIEFF 2020 was radically different than in the past, we have learned important lessons that help us understand that festivals are global events. Organizing a festival in the global realm means not only to continue to address global issues, but to find a festival format that engages with the public sphere traditionally outside its reach. GIEFF’s online experiment has demonstrated that there are still innovative ways for festivals to achieve this. We can only hope that the lessons learned at GIEFF 2020 will be not be forgotten in the future.


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Books and articles

de Valck, M. 2007. Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

de Valck, M., Kredell, B. and S. Loist, eds. 2016. Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice. London: Routledge.

Elsaesser, T. 2005. Film Festival Networks: The New Topographies of Cinema in Europe. In European Cinema: Face to Face With Hollywood. T. Elsaesser. Pp. 82–107. Amsterdam University Press.

Engelbrecht, B. 2017. Organizational Challenges When Programming an Ethnographic Film Festival In Film Festivals and Anthropology. A. Vallejo and M.P. Peirano, eds. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Fraser, N. 1990. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social text 25(26): 56-80.

GIEFF e.V. 2020. German International Ethnographic Film Festival – Catalogue 2020. Göttingen: GIEFF e.V.

Lee, T. 2016. Being There, Taking Place: Ethnography at the Film Festival. In Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice. M. de Valck, B. Kredell, and S. Loist, eds. Pp. 122-138. London: Routledge.

MacDougall, D. 2012 (1995). Beyond Observational Cinema In: Principles of Visual Anthropology. P. Hockings, ed. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Mermin, E. 1997. Being Where? Experiencing Narratives of Ethnographic Film. Visual Anthropology Review 13(1): 40-51.

Ruby, J. 1975. Is an Ethnographic Film a Filmic Ethnography? Studies in Visual Communication 2(2): 104-111.

Stringer, J. 2001. Global Cities and the International Film Festival Economy In Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context. M. Shiel and T. Fitzmaurice, eds. Pp. 134–144. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Wilson, S., and L. C. Peterson 2002. The Anthropology of Online Communities. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 449-467.

Wong, C.H.Y. 2016. Publics and Counterpublics. In Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice. M. de Valck, B. Kredell, and S. Loist, eds. Pp. 83. London: Routledge.

CAFFE – Coordinating Anthropological Film Festivals in Europe. (accessed 20 November 2022)

GIEFF – German International Ethnographic Film Festival. (accessed 20 November 2022)

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1 GIEFF is the founding member of ‘Coordinating Anthropological Film Festival in Europe’ (CAFFE).

2 Although here I have to mention that GIEFF has introduced Travelling GEIFF, as a way to tackle the uneven distribution of ethnographic film around the world.

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List of illustrations

Title GIEFF goes online
Credits Design by Kanny Li
File image/jpeg, 23k
Title Virtual Q&A session, GIEFF 2020
Caption Virtual hanging out via Jitsi.
Credits A screenshot by Matjaz Pinter
File image/jpeg, 122k
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Electronic reference

Matjaz Pinter, Attending GIEFF (German International Ethnographic Film Festival) at the Time of the PandemicAnthrovision [Online], Vol. 9.1 | 2021, Online since 30 November 2022, connection on 31 March 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Matjaz Pinter

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