by Trinh T. Minh-ha
Produced by Jean-Paul Bourdier
Reassemblage is Trinh T. Minh-ha’s first film. It was filmed in Senegal and released in 1982. This film was part of a three year work on ethnographic field research in West Africa through the Research Expedition Program of the University of California, Berkeley. In Reassemblage Trinh explains that she intends “not to speak about/Just speak near by,” unlike more conventional ethnographic documentary film. The film is a montage of fleeting images from Senegal and includes no narration, although there are occasional statements by Trinh T. Minh-ha. None of the statements given by her assign meaning to the scenes. There is music, silence, sometimes Trinh views a movie, refusing to make the film “about” a “culture”. It points to the viewers expectation and the need for the assignment of meaning. The audience is left with a sense of disorientation.
An ethnographic study; by Vietnamese Feminist Filmmaker. Filmmaker Trihn Minh-ha’s experimental documentary “Reassemblage” is for all intents and purposes a film about the people of Senegal. But Trinh has a higher purpose in mind. The film if self-reflexive in that as it is as much about documentaries themselves as it is about the people of Senegal. Trinh calls into question the conventions of the documentary and how such films have the power to manipulate the way in which the audience sees. She constantly reminds her audience that they are watching a movie through many filmic techniques. For example, at times she cuts sound completely to emphasize the fact that she has the ability to manipulate what we are feeling. By taking away the music (African drumming in this case), a tool filmmakers often rely on to tell us how we SHOULD be feeling, we are left to our own devices and must figure out on our own what we are seeing, what it means to us, and why. At times this makes viewing her film fairly difficult, but ultimately it’s a rather interesting and thought-provoking experience.
Trinh T. Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer, academic and composer. She is a world-renowned independent filmmaker and feminist, post-colonial theorist. She teaches courses that focus on women’s work as related to cultural politics, post-coloniality, contemporary critical theory and the arts. The seminars she offers focus on Third cinema, film theory and aesthetics, the voice in cinema, the autobiographical voice, critical theory and research, cultural politics and feminist theory. She has been making films for over twenty years and may be best known for her first film Reassemblage, made in 1982. She has received several awards and grants, including the American Film Institute’s National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award, and Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. Her films have been the subject of twenty retrospectives. (Continued)
hat tip: bright stupid confetti