Fieldwork: Three Documentaries from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab

“Stunning … The must-see cinematic experience of the year.”

Eric Kohn, IndieWire

In response to the new provincial health orders, The Cinematheque has closed the theatre and cancelled in-person screenings from November 23 through December 7. We look forward to rescheduling this film at a later date.

A captivating and richly rewarding portrait of spiritual pilgrimage by cable-car in contemporary Nepal, Manakamana is another triumph from Harvard’s revolutionary Sensory Ethnography Laboratory, a hothouse of heady, artful, immersive documentary cinema. The film is radically simple in conception but remarkably suggestive in effect. It was shot with a fixed Super-16mm camera inside a gondola carrying worshippers and tourists to and from Nepal’s Manakamana mountaintop temple. Each of the 11 unbroken segments is the length of a one-way ride; each becomes an enchanting tableau of its human (and non-human) subjects. Produced by the Leviathan team of Castaing-Taylor and Paravel, this patient, contemplative, quietly profound film encourages intimate observation of the lives behind faces, and a near-existential awareness of the passage of time. “It shows us the world sitting still for 10 minutes at a time, quiet in the company of men and women and the forested vistas around them. And I’ve never seen anything like it” (Calum Marsh, Village Voice).

“[A] revelation … Manakamana is a sort of structural game, by turns contemplative and, yes, playful. It sets hard and immovable rules in place, then explores what is cinematographically possible within those constraints.”

Nick Pinkerton, Sight & Sound
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