A few words before the festival begins

The international festival DEF, as a significant setting of visual ethnography and ethnographical film, offers viewerships insight into the various realities of contemporary time and the circumstances shaping our human everyday. At the same time, a look at presented films sheds light on potential methodological shifts and differences in the theoretical approaches within ethnology and (visual) anthropology. This year’s festival edition, compared to previous ones, received somewhat fewer applications (270), with fewer feature projects as well. Reasons for this are seen mostly in the Covid pandemic, which had made the research and fieldwork of many researchers more difficult. Nevertheless, entries were highly diverse in their subject matter and genres. At the forefront were themes like gender (and identity), migrations and workers’ issues (often from South and Central America), lockdowns during the pandemic, tradition, mental health, and ecology. We were happy to receive several Slovenian entries.

The selection panel consisted of a five-member international jury, namely Etami Borjan from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb; Relja Pekić, organizer of the Vizantrop Engaged Ethnographic Film Festival from Belgrade; and Naško Križnar, Miha Peče, and Manca Filak from the Institute of Slovenian Ethnology at the ZRC SAZU. This year’s selection features primarily student films, something that might be attributed to good research and university conditions, having emerged within master’s studies dedicated entirely to visual anthropology. Excellence was recognized in the relationship between the researcher and the protagonists which arises from deeply engaged and committed fieldwork.

In contrast to the previous festival edition, due to the pandemic taking place exclusively online, the DEF 2023 will once again be hosted by the Slovenian Cinematheque, screening 15 ethnographic films from all across the world. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the host, the sponsors and all those assisting in the organization of the festival, as well as of course the participating authors sharing with us part of their rich creative and exploratory journey.

Manca Filak