Sam Pack

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Water Puppetry in Vietnam: An Ancient Tradition in a Modern World| 32mins
Director: Sam Pack | Producer:
Focus Years: | Country: United States
Subject Tags: asia, community, culture, identity, livelihood, viet nam
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
Water puppetry in Vietnam has recently gained worldwide fame for its lively and unique reflection of agrarian life in wet rice villages of north Vietnam. As water puppetry has gained popularity among tourists, modern practitioners have altered key components of their performances, in both content and format, to appeal to Western audiences. This film seeks to examine the interplay between the rise and development of the international tourism industry and the production of culture in the performance of Vietnamese water puppetry. Our objective in this project was to return a series of government-made films about the ancient tradition of water puppetry to the village of Bao Ha in the Red River Delta where they were originally shot in order to make this invaluable cultural heritage available to the very community of which they are records. Beyond simply expressing their opinions about these films, five villagers were selected and trained to make films of their own on the topic of water puppetry. We organized a second community screening, but this time, the featured films were made by members of the community themselves. In a very powerfully symbolic way, these second set of films represent the process of digital repatriation traveling full circle. The hope is that this collaboration will serve as a model for ethnographic film making, as more and more historically marginalized peoples are gaining the skills, technology, and need for a fuller understanding of their own past as wells as a means to articulate their present and future.

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Sam Pack

United States


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