Ethnographic Films

 Below are some examples of Video Ethnography created by Dr. Wesley Shrum.

Women of the Storm 

Are women better at civic activism than men? “Women of the Storm” provides an affirmative answer through the story of a group of women from New Orleans. Following in the tradition of the fight for voting rights, the Women emerged after the disastrous hurricanes and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They were more important than any other other association in rebuilding the city. Through strategy sessions and insider footage of Congressional meetings, “Women of the Storm” asks why they were successful, how they coped with setbacks, and their shift from a local to national agenda.

Keywords: Civic Activism, Women, & Disaster

Screened at these Film Festivals:
Big Easy International Film Festival, Cinema on the Bayou, Delhi Women’s International Film Festival, Ellensburg Film Festival, Flagler Film Festival, Freedom Film Festival, Lady Filmmakers Festival, Long Island Film Festival, Rails to Reels Film Festival, Sunscreen Film Festival


Illicit brewers, greedy landlords, and cheating recipients of aid. Chick takes up the challenges of a young American woman who starts a self-help group for disabled persons. In the Kenyan context, where a hundred years of missionary work has led some to “wait for donations from America,” even the simple task of building a chicken house is tricky. Their group development is shown in a weekly meeting beset with both frustration and success. How do you give, without giving? Where gifts have multiple meanings, generosity must be redefined.

Keywords: Africa, NGOs, Disability, Women

Brother Time: A Kenyan Tale of Violence and Humanity

 Brother Time is a tale of neighbors from different tribes caught in a wider conflict. After the last presidential election, Kenya erupted in ethnic violence. Most of the 1500 killed lived in the Rift Valley, where members of different groups had lived peacefully. Like many others, the two friends fell apart during the post-election period, when suddenly, it was ‘not the brother time’. Filmed during and immediately after the election, the roots of tribal conflict are explored during a journey through the Rift Valley. One who saw the worst of the conflict returns home to see his neighbor, while interviews with Kenyans reveal the political and social causes of violence. Released during the 2013 election campaign, this message of hope shows it can be Brother Time once again.

Keywords: Africa, Ethnicity, Civil Strife, Politics, Kenya

Screened at these Film Festivals:
Black Hills Film Festival, Macon Film Festival, Africa World Documentary Film Festival, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, Humanity Explored Film Festival, Winnipeg Real to Real Film Festival, Bay Street Film Festival, Kratovo Ethnographic Film Festival

Light Years

The International Year of Light asked Ethnografilm to create a short film to launch their event at UNESCO in Paris (January 2015).

Since the beginning of modern cinema, viewers and critics alike have been transfixed by light contrasted with darkness. This interplay of light and dark was typical of film noir, a metaphor of good and evil in plots that featured crime, detectives, and mystery. We celebrate this genre through a salute to Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the inventor of a lens for lighthouses that was later used for movie and theatre lighting. Light Years features serial murder and a star-studded group of suspects over a half-century of film. Whodunnit? Ultimately, we learn that the Fatal Fresnel Lens has incinerated five cameras that recorded their own demise.

Wesley Shrum and Greg Scott (Directors). Brett Dietz (Composer)

Greg and I love film noir. We were talking about how people get murdered, when we wondered what it would look like if the technology of filming itself caused the crime? That is, what if the camera itself kills someone? What if the camera itself is killed?

A fresnel lens-long used in Hollywood to light films sets-will melt a penny in a few seconds…so Greg stripped one out of a projector and we used it to focus the sun on the cameras that were filming. We burned up five of them, and they filmed up until their moment of destruction. Our tribute to light and noir.


Screened at these Film Festivals:
Amarcord Arthouse Television & Video Fest, Baton Rouge Horror Film Festival, Boomtown Film and Music Festival, Comme Il Faut International Film Festival, Cut to the Chase Film Festival, Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, Fantasmagorical Film Festival, Fargo Film Festival, Geek Out Film Fest, Heritage Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, The Strange Film Awards, WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival