Judith MacDougall

Judith MacDougall and her husband David MacDougall have been described as “the most significant ethnographic filmmakers in the English-speaking world today.” They have collaborated on many prize-winning films, but have also gone their separate ways to make distinguished films in their own right.

Together they produced the famous “Turkana Conversations” trilogy on semi-nomadic camel herders of northwestern Kenya. One of the films of the trilogy, Lorang’s Way, won the prestigious first prize of Cinéma du Réel in Paris in 1979, and another, The Wedding Camels, the Film Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1980.

The MacDougalls then made a dozen films on indigenous communities in Australia, including Judith’s The House-Opening in 1980. In 1991 their work took a new direction with a film, Photo Wallahs, on photographic practices in an Indian hill town.

Judith went on to make the RAI prize-winning film Diya (2001), an innovative approach to material culture, chronicling the “life history” of small terra cotta oil lamps used in Indian religious ceremonies. She is currently completing a film study of photographic practices in Kunming, southwest China.

The MacDougalls were among the first filmmakers to introduce subtitling of indigenous speech into their films, an innovation that revolutionized visual anthropology. Their films continue to break new ground, both conceptually and cinematically.

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