Human Cinema Film Fest Brings Student Ethnographic Films to the Big Screen

An avant garde Khmer dancer, dumpster divers, avid Etsy craftmakers, and an intense form of body modification known as suspension--just some of the subjects from the movies of this year's inaugural Human Cinema Film Festival. Organized by the students from Cal State University Long Beach's visual anthropology branch of the college's anthropology department, HCFF culls together shorts from their peers at CSULB, USC, and UC Santa Cruz.

These cinematic expeditions take their root in the studies of ethnographic film production, taught by professors Dr. Steven Rousso-Schindler and Dr. Scott Wilson. Students apply their anthropological studies into hands-on technical training in shooting, editing, and piecing together narratives about their own cultural and social issue of their choice. But beyond film, students learn other kinds of visual skills such as photography, while others push forward to do something completely different, like an interactive comic book or an art installation.

In its eight years of existence, the vis. anthro branch has received enough attention that school funding for projects has significantly increased, allowing for students to work with state-of-the-art equipment to enhance the visual quality of their work. But what makes these students' work really stand out is their relevance to the region; many projects emphasize stories in the Orange County, Long Beach and Los Angeles areas that are probably overlooked otherwise. (Don't mind this shameless plug, but we love video freelancers over here at the Weekly!)

With all that in mind, here's a list of films to expect at the Human Cinema Film Fest this Thursday, completely free from 4-8pm:

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Wallerstein, dir. Kristi Oken (23 min) A look at marine animal rescuer Peter Wallerstein who saves and helps injured animals along the SoCal coast, and his efforts to build his own Marine Mammal Rescue facility.

Breakwater, dir. Shenendoa Bennett (21 min) The origins and controversy behind a massive structure built in the 1940s, and the changes its caused to the city of Long Beach and the people behind regulating its future.

Lifted, Francesca Santos (24 min) A "Cine Ethnography" that delves into the world of an extreme form of body modification known as suspension where the human body hangs from hooks pierced into different parts of skin, yikes.

I Am Handmade, Samantha Close (31 min) Artists and craftmakers who sell their handmade works on Etsy, their backstories and the strain they go through to make their dreams of selling their creations a reality.

Frontera: Revolt and Rebellion on the Rio Grande, dir. John Leanos (20 min) An animated doc on the 1680 Pueblo Revolt that occurred along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, when the Pueblo Indians broke from the Spanish Empire. Elm Kids, Maura Cotter (10 min) Into the world of dumpster diving and the people who dumpster dive to find thrown out valuables in and around downtown Long Beach.

Time to Grow, Daniel Corson and Kelly Wootton A look at the Long Beach Food Movement, and how to better understand our relationship to food.

Virtual Me, Trent Monahan & Sarah Prothero (10 min) A look at gender and identity in the popular role playing game, World of Warcraft.

From the Heart of Brahma, Robert Douglas (27 min) Khmer Classical Dancer Prumsodun Ok breathes new life into a classical art form almost left extinct from a devastating genocide by applying his own artistic spin, sparking discussions about his own home country's human rights issues.

Human Cinema: Student Explorations of Culture happens Thursday Nov. 13 at 4pm, at Cal State University Long Beach's Beach Auditorium 1212 Bellflower Blvd. Suite 115, Long Beach. For more information email See you there!

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