John Marshall ‐ The !Kung Project

John Mar­shall, film­mak­er and activist, is best known for his life­time involve­ment with the Ju/‘hoansi (!Kung Bush­men) of Nyae Nyae in Namib­i­a’s Kala­hari Desert. He first picked up a camera in 1949, at the age of 17, during the first of sev­er­al expe­di­tions to the Kala­hari orga­nized by his father, Lau­rence Mar­shall. The whole Mar­shall family - includ­ing John’s mother, Lorna, and sister, Eliz­a­beth Mar­shall Thomas - became engaged in a multi-dis­ci­pli­nary study of the Ju/‘hoansi. John applied him­self whole-heart­ed­ly to the task of film­ing, he was a nat­ur­al cam­era­man. His first film, The Hunters (1957), was an almost instant clas­sic of ethno­graph­ic film. John con­tin­ued his doc­u­men­tary record of Ju/‘hoansi, direct­ing his final shoot in 2000. He has since shot over 600,000 feet of film from which 26 films were edited. A KALAHARI FAMILY (2002) his epic six-hour series, tells the story of the Ju/‘hoansi from 1950-2000 and charts John’s evo­lu­tion from film­mak­er to activist. John con­tin­ued his advo­ca­cy work until short­ly before his death in 2005. His legacy - both in film and in the Ju/‘hoan com­mu­ni­ty - lives on. … read more

Bitter Roots

Adrian Strong
Great Britain, Namibia 2010 | 71 Min. | OmeU
Q&A with:
Adrian Strong

BITTER ROOTS is set in Nyae-Nyae, a region of Namib­ia locat­ed in south­ern Africa’s Kala­hari desert, tra­di­tion­al home of the Ju/‘hoansi. It updates the ethno­graph­ic film record begun in the 1950s by John Mar­shall, whose films doc­u­ment­ed 50 years of change, and who togeth­er with Claire Ritchie, estab­lished a grass-roots devel­op­ment foun­da­tion, which Adrian Strong (the film­mak­er) joined in the late 1980s.

Shot in 2007, two years after Mar­shal­l’s death (and includ­ing footage from his films), BITTER ROOTS doc­u­ments the return of Strong and Ritchie to Nyae-Nyae where they observe the ero­sion of a com­mu­ni­ty-led devel­op­ment process fol­low­ing the impo­si­tion of a new agenda led by the WWF, which pri­or­i­tizes wildlife con­ser­va­tion and tourism over sub­sis­tence farm­ing. Com­mu­ni­ties voice their dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the new Con­ser­van­cy, which has done little to help people farm and improve their lives.

Through archival footage and dis­cus­sions with com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, this film sen­si­tive­ly exam­ines the prob­lems (lions, ele­phants, con­ser­va­tion­ists) the Ju/‘hoansi are cur­rent­ly facing and chal­lenges the myth that they are cul­tur­al­ly unable to farm. The film inves­ti­gates the per­pet­u­a­tion of this myth by show­ing how tourists and film­mak­ers still demand to see how people used to live rather than the way they live now, and how the Ju/‘hoansi cope with such expec­ta­tions, while stead­fast­ly con­tin­u­ing to farm against all the odds.

The Hunters

John Marshall
Namibia, USA | 57 Min. | OmeU
THE HUNTERS, an early clas­sic in anthro­po­log­i­cal film, fol­lows the hunt of a giraffe by four men over a five-day period. The film was shot in 1952-53 on the third … read more