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Renowned ethnographic filmmakers David and Judith MacDougall explore the many meanings of photography in this profound and penetrating documentary. The film focuses on the photographers of Mussoorie, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills of northern India whose fame has attracted tourists since the 19th century.
Through a rich mixture of scenes that includes the photographers at work, their clients, and both old and new photographs, this extraordinary film examines photography as art and as social artifact -- a medium of reality, fantasy, memory, and desire.
"Photo Wallahs" is perfect for introducing students to the complexity of social and anthropological observation, and it will generate valuable discussion in a variety of courses in Indian and Asian studies, cultural anthropology, and photography.
"There is now an interest in making films that do not simply deliver a statement about a topic but open it up in richer and more productive ways. These are films that develop complex networks of connections and relationships. In a sense they are meant as structures for generating meaning. That is certainly our intention in Photo Wallahs. We want it to be a resource for a range of observations, ideas, and possibilities." -- David MacDougall, interviewed in Visual Anthropology Review
"Exceptional... and remarkable. I found the film thought-provoking, particularly regarding the issues of universals in photography versus unique cultural presentations and representations." -- Joanna Cohan Scherer, Smithsonian Institution, in American Anthropologist
- Royal Anthropological Institute Commendation
- Society for Visual Anthropology Award
- Bilan du Film Ethnographique (Paris) honoree
- Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
- Berlin Film Festival honoree
- Bombay Intl. Film Festival honoree