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The anti-colonial gaze in ethnographic cinema: “Voyage au Congo” e “Marquis de Wavrin”

The ability of the camera to capture beauty and tell stories presented irresistible opportunities for many fields of research at the start of the twentieth century, including for ethnography, the study of people and cultures. Here was a tool to capture what the eyes of voyagers would marvel at as they explored exotic contexts rarely witnessed by Europeans, if not by conquerors – a tool which had the potential to challenge the perspectives set up by these colonizing powers. This gaze may be recognised in the work of two pioneering filmmakers featured in the Documents and Documentaries strand of this year’s edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato: Voyage au Congo (1927) by Marc Allégret, and the ethnographic films of Marquis Robert de Wavrin, explored in a new documentary by Grace Winter and Luc Plantier, Marquis de Wavrin. Du Manoir à la Jungle (2018).