Lisbet Holtedahl

Already as a child, Holtedahl became fas­ci­nat­ed by people and objects from dif­fer­ent life worlds. As a young adult she went to Paris in 1964 and watched screen­ings of ethno­graph­i­cal films in the Musée de l’Homme for the first time. There she also met Jean Rouch, who fueled her inter­est in Africa, film, and ethnology.  Early on, she became aware of the dif­fi­cul­ty of con­vey­ing impres­sions of Africa. In her first film, NIGER-NORGE (1975), she address­es the living con­di­tions of women in a vil­lage in east­ern Nige­ria, which she con­trasts with cor­re­spond­ing scenes shot in Tromsø. In this way, she pro­vides a provoca­tive and tongue-in-cheek glimpse of what West­ern­ers con­sid­er normal as a way of over­com­ing stereo­types. The poten­tial and chal­lenge of ade­quate­ly trans­lat­ing dif­fer­ent life worlds through film con­tin­ues to occupy the direc­tor up to this day. In her works, Holtedahl always has West­ern audi­ences in mind – their long­ings and their prej­u­dices. Her main goals are to enable them to empathize with the pro­tag­o­nists and to create space for identification. While sen­so­ry ethno­graph­ic films (freiburg­er film forum 2015) … read more

Fri, 31-May-19 10:00 AM

Anthro­po­log­i­cal film­mak­ing: Lessons learned

As young novice in Anthro­pol­o­gy in the field, I made draw­ings of people and asked chil­dren to do the same thing; I also took pic­tures and shot 16 mm film mate­r­i­al. This was in East­ern Niger 1970. When I went home, I was full of expec­ta­tions and looked for­ward to convey all my impres­sions and images from people’s lives in Niger to people in Norway. I did not at all expect the trou­ble I got into: how­ev­er beau­ti­ful a woman was on my pic­ture or in my photo, my Nor­we­gian audi­ences only showed pity.

I met the same chal­lenges that Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin strug­gled with in their film work during the fifties and six­ties. When Rouch screened his film LES MAITRES FOUS, about the Hauka rites in the forest of the Gold Coast in Paris, the French audi­ence inter­pret­ed the film in a way that made them think that the Africans were wild and that they behaved like ani­mals. Rouch’s super­vi­sor Marcel Gri­aule told him not to screen the film in France, and later on, the French author­i­ties pro­hib­it­ed the film.

Edgar Morin has said that doc­u­men­tary films are ‘lying’ and manip­u­lat­ing since they pre­tend to convey the real­i­ty, the truth, which fic­tion films do not. On the one side, the film­mak­er edits his films; on the other, it is the audi­ence itself, which frames his films. (…) In spite of the traps you may fall in, I also learned that visual sto­ries have an unimag­in­able poten­tial for the build­ing of cross-cul­tur­al under­stand­ing. Through my entire career, I there­fore have con­tin­ued to strug­gle and exper­i­ment with ways to visu­al­ize people’s lives cross-culturally.

In my Mas­ter­class, I want to talk about how I have used my expe­ri­ences in my anthro­po­log­i­cal films by relat­ing how my think­ing about nar­ra­tive strate­gies devel­oped cumu­la­tive­ly from film to film.

The Château

Lisbeth Holtedahl
Norway 2018 | 113 min | engl. subtitled

Thu, 30-May-19 07:30 PM
A por­trait of one of the rich­est Cameroon­ian indus­tri­al­ists Al Hajji Mohamadou Ous­man­ou Abbo. Filmed over a period of more than ten years. The red thread of the story is … read more


Lisbeth Holtedahl
Norway 2018 | 85 min | engl. subtitled

Thu, 30-May-19 01:30 PM

Fri, 31-May-19 05:30 PM
Alha­jji Ibrahim Gonji is an Islam­ic schol­ar. For 46 years, he has served as judge at the Sul­tanate of Ngaoundéré in North­ern Cameroon. The film fol­lows Alha­jji during the last … read more