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November 1 - November 2

John Marshall’s Explorations in Ethnography

John Marshall’s (1932-2005) filmmaking career began in 1950 when, at the age of eighteen, he joined the first of several family expeditions to the Kalahari Desert organized by his father, Laurence Marshall, the founding president of the Raytheon Corporation. The whole Marshall clan undertook an unprecedented multi-disciplinary study of the Ju/'hoansi (!Kung Bushmen), with  John assigned to film a documentary record of Ju/’hoan life and culture. Over the next eight years, Marshall shot over three hundred thousand feet of 16mm film (one hundred fifty-seven hours) of the Ju/'hoansi – in the course of his career, he would shoot more than one million feet of film and video – creating an utterly unique body of work that remains unrivalled as a long-term visual study of a single group of indigenous people. Contained in Marshall's fascinating footage are the personal histories of individuals, records of a now nonexistent way of life and the unfolding of massive social and economic change as experienced by a single group of people over a period of fifty years.

In 1968, John Marshall co-founded Documentary Educational Resources with Timothy Asch, a fellow ethnographic filmmaker, for the purpose of producing and distributing cross-cultural documentary film for educational use. In 2008, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) donated their collection of 16mm distribution prints to the Harvard Film Archive. 

All films in this program are shown on 16mm prints from the DER collection at the HFA. Special thanks: Documentary Educational Resources; The Smithsonian Human Studies Archive.


Introduction by Cynthia Close, Documentary Educational Resources
Sunday November 1 at 7pm

Selection of short films of the !Kung Bushmen

Following the success of his first Ju/’hoansi documentary, The Hunters (1957), Marshall embarked on an ambitious project – a new kind of ethnographic documentary that utilized short, succinct episodes to capture small moments of the Ju/’hoansi ‘s everyday life. Despite their subtitles and occasional explanatory narration, these films are unique for their rejection of the outsiders’ point of view and their ability to instead allow the subjects and their actions – playing games, gathering food, socializing and arguing – to speak for themselves. In 2009, Marshall’s Bushmen films were awarded UNESCO's "Memory of the World" designation.

A Joking Relationship

Directed by John Marshall. US 1962, 16mm, b/w and color, 13 min.

Lion Game

Directed by John Marshall. US 1970, 16mm, color, 4 min.

Meat Fight

Directed by John Marshall. US 1974, 16mm, color, 14 min.

Playing with Scorpions

Directed by John Marshall. US 1972, 16mm, color, 4 min.

N/um Tchai

Directed by John Marshall. US 1969, 16mm, b/w, 29 min.

Death by Myth

Directed by John Marshall. US 2001, excerpt, Beta.

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Introduction by Brittany Gravely, Documentary Educational Resources
Monday November 2 at 7pm

Selection of Short Films from the Pittsburgh Police

From 1969-1970, working in association with the Lemburg Center for Violence Studies at Brandeis University, Marshall directed and shot a series of short films following the day-to-day events of a police squad in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Filmed during the racial tensions and civil disorder that gripped the city in response to Martin Luther King’s assassination – a period that witnessed the arrest of two thousand citizens – Marshall gained incredible access to the inner workings of the urban police force. Designed for use in law schools, community relations projects, sociology and urban studies programs and for use by the police themselves, the films cut to the bone of such issues as privacy and civil liberties versus police intervention while providing a fascinating perspective on one of the most turbulent periods in recent American history.

Nothing Hurt But My Pride

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 15 min.

Vagrant Woman

Directed by John Marshall. US 1971, 16mm, b/w, 8 min.

Wrong Kid

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 4 min.

After the Game

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 9 min.

Youth and the Man of Property

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 7 min.

A $40 Misunderstanding

Directed by John Marshall. US 1971, 16mm, b/w, 8 min.

You Wasn't Loitering

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 6 min.

Henry is Drunk

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 7 min.

Manifold Controversy

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 3 min.

$21 or 21 Days

Directed by John Marshall. US 1973, 16mm, b/w, 8 min.

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