Sunday, October 01, 2017

Kavirondonegrene paa fiske / Kavirondo Tribe Members Fishing (2017 digital transfer Nasjonalbiblioteket)

Kavirondo che pescano. ?, ca. 1920. prod: ?, DCP (from 35 mm),  11’11”, col. (tinted); titles: NOR, source: Nasjonalbiblioteket (Norway).
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone (Silent Africa in Norway).
    Grand piano: Daan van den Hurk.
    Teatro Verdi, 1 Oct 2017.

Tina Anckarman (GCM 2017): "These three ethnographic shorts were produced around 1920-21 and depict three tribes in East Africa: the Nilotic Kavirondo (Luo), the Kikuyu of Mount Kenya, and the Maasai of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Traditions and manners are described in words and astonishing images, such as dances of the Kikuyu and Maasai; the Kavirondos’ skill in making and using fishing tools; and Maasai women’s knowledge of house-building. The members of the communities are beautifully portrayed, from Kikuyu dressed in customary clothes and jewelry for the harvest feast, Maasai displaying their decorated weapons, and Kavirondo women on the shore of Homa Bay on Lake Victoria, smoking while awaiting the catch, wearing their traditional “tail” made of banana fibres."

"The provenance is known for two of the films, Massaiernes menn og kvinner and Kavirondonegrene paa fiske, but it’s assumed that the third one also derives from the same collector. Per Kviberg (1881-1960) was a schoolteacher, local politician, and a strong, early voice for the use of film for educational purposes. Kviberg and Kommunernes Filmscentral cooperated with like-minded instructors at home as well as in other Scandinavian countries, looking to Germany for films they could distribute and for useful ideas on how to organize screenings in educational institutions. There are documents verifying that Kviberg brought footage, adequate for teaching, back to Oslo (then called Kristiania) following a journey to Berlin in 1921. Fragments from Kavirondonegrene paa fiske and Kikujunegrene danser are also in the catalogue of the Kungliga biblioteket (Royal Library), Stockholm."

"The production company for the titles is not identified, nor is the country of origin. The Norwegian intertitles in all of them are similar: the frame on the title cards and the fonts are close to identical, as are the tinted colors. The original footage is partly fragmented due to decomposing nitrate. The three reels were incorporated in the collection of the Norsk Filminstitutt and moved to the nitrate vaults of the Nasjonalbiblioteket (National Library) in 1994/2002.
" Tina Anckarman

AA: A beautiful and dignified account of great ethnographic value of the Kavirondo fishing in the shallow waters of Lake Victoria. There is a sense of melancholy watching this today, as Lake Victoria, one of the greatest lakes in the world, the source of the Nile, is now also infamous for its many ecocatastrophes, including that of the predatory Nile perch, as documented in Darwin's Nightmare.

We observe Kavirondo ways with their cattle and focus on the weaving of fishnets. Nets are produced from papyrus, their stalks braided together. A team of dozens of fishers, consisting mostly of men but also including women, participates in dragnet (seine) fishing. There are different approaches for shallow water and deep water fish. The account of the esprit de corps is engrossing.

The Kavirondo are famous for their glorious nudity, amply on display in this beautiful film, perhaps especially for those interested in male physical beauty as God intended. Tom of Finland might have appreciated the well hung fishermen. But Kavirondo women are often more passionate, we hear.

Also on display are beautiful Swahili boats, and Hindus always clad in white.
A fine copy of a movie well made by unknown film-makers.

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