Collaborative Filmmaking Approaches in Archaeology and Heritage

Start date
End date
Kamerlingh Onnes Building, Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES in Leiden. C131 (First day), B041 (Second day)

Documentaries are gradually becoming an integral part of research programs in archaeological heritage and development studies throughout the world. The methods and techniques employed in the design and making of these films could help to articulate either authorised or critical discourses (Smith 2006). Audiovisual recording can be used as both representational and analytical media, since they serve not only to capture and communicate local and global perspectives, but also social memory and knowledge about archaeological sites, ritual and daily practices, technical traditions and their embodied material culture, dwelling and landscape dynamics, as well as social struggles and negotiations within power structures. As a result, documentary film making (from amateur and informal audiovisual records to professional, collaborative and multidisciplinary projects) provide an opportunity but also a challenge to many archaeologists, heritage and development scholars at some point in their careers. In lieu of this realization, Leiden University’s Faculty of Archaeology, through the Centre for Indigenous Americas Studies (assistant professor Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz) and the Department of World Archaeology (PhD researcher Natalia R. Donner), will organize a two day event focused on documentary and film making perspectives as investigative tools in archaeology, heritage and development studies.

    This meeting will, in particular, aim to provide Master, Research Master, PhD candidates, and research staff from Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam the opportunity to learn about innovative research perspectives and to receive training in audio-visual methods which highlight the need for collaborative work with local (often Indigenous) communities in the creation of new media.


    The organisation of this event will raise awareness about collaborative filmmaking, and provide members of the archaeology, heritage and development research communities from Leiden and Erasmus Rotterdam Universities with theoretical, methodological, and technical tools. It will also offer a space to reflect about the necessity and advantages of working with audiovisual records in dialogues with local peoples, as well as about how media produced by community members reflect their own values and aspirations in relation to tangible but also living heritage, history and knowledge systems. Simultaneously, it will show how media produced locally and collaboratively can contribute to interpretative and representational strategies to reflect about deep history, cultural diversity and global concerns in museums, media circuits and education.


    The programmed schedule starts on October 30th and ends on October 31st, with two full days from approximately 9:00 till 17:00. The venue will be Leiden University’s Faculty of Law (exact location will be communicated in a later stage). The event will be divided in two different sections.

    October 30th: The first day will consist of a conference in which practitioners and scholars from around the world will share their experiences in filmmaking as a form of inclusive research, through their collaborative, bottom-up, participatory, community-led and/or community-managed approaches. The presentation format proposed for each speaker will consist of approximately 15 minutes for a theoretical and methodological introduction, followed by 30 minutes of commented audiovisual examples, and finalized by 15 minutes of  interaction with the audience.

    The programmed schedule for this first day would be as follows:

    9.30     Registration and coffee

    9.55     Welcome and introduction to the day

    10.00   Itandehui Jansen (Netherlands/Mexico).

    She is a Dutch-Mexican Mixtec filmmaker and scholar, who studied at the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam and obtained her PhD at Leiden University (LU). She recently finished the feature film “In Times of Rain”, a result of the LU project ‘Time in lntercultural Context’. The film invites the audience to reflect on the effects of migration and globalisation on cultural heritage and continuity, and was filmed on location with the collaboration of a Mixtec community in Oaxaca, Mexico.

    11.00   Coffee break

    11.15   Tryfon Babilis - Netherlands Institute in Athens (NIA)

    NIA has organized an intensive summer school on visual anthropology in collaboration with Dutch (including Leiden and VUA) and Greek universities in the last three years. The school offers an overview of current debates and research topics in visual anthropology and ethnography, as well as the experience of filming in a highly diverse and multi-layered urban setting. In 2018, a selection of short ethnographic films produced in previous schools was featured in the event “Dialogues in Archaeology” in Athens.

    12.15   Lunch break

    13.15   Chiara Digrandi - “Cine Sin Autor” Initiative (Spain/Italy)

    CSA or Film Without Author ( is a film production theory and practice based on non-authorship: a model where all the participants in a cultural production make the decisions and where the creative and organisational authority circulate according to the needs of what is produced. Chiara is a psychologist and art therapist, who leads workshops and projects in Spain, Colombia, Peru, as well as coordinates CSA in Italy.

    14.15   Coffee break

    14.30   Irina Ruiz Figueroa - ACAMPADOC (Panama)

    Born in Russia, Irina graduated as a Film Producer at the International School of Film and Television (Cuba). She started her career with historical and scientific documentaries, and has since produced several short films, independent documentaries and TV series. Since 2011, Irina is the general director of Acampadoc, a documentary film oriented Festival, Residency and Camp, which focuses on the education and production of documentaries that aim at heritage preservation and valorization.

    15.30   Coffee break

    15.45   David Donner - Espora Productions (Argentina/Mexico)

    Donner is an anthropologist specialized in documentary films and one of the founding members of a transdisciplinary, media producer company based in Veracruz, Mexico, that articulates audiovisual media and film in socio-environmental research as well as the dissemination of science and the arts. Espora Productions ( creates independent projects and collaborates with civil, public and private initiatives on a wide range of social themes, ecology, culture and communication.

    16.45   Closing session and drinks

    October 31st: The second day will consist of a practical workshop focusing on Film Planning, Visual Development, Sound Design, and Basic Editing for a selected number of pre-registered participants (a maximum of 40). Participants will be asked to bring some of their own equipment and some will be provided by the organizers. The workshop will start with instructional talks and orientation provided by some of the guest speakers and support from the Leiden School of Visual Ethnography. After this series of talks, the participants will be split in groups of two or three from different focus disciplines (Visual Ethnography, Archaeology, Heritage, or Development) who will be commissioned with the task of producing a short video clip based on a broad common theme.

    The specific instructions for this audiovisual project will be as follows:

    • The project should try to make use of the knowledge acquired during the two days.
    • Teams will have freedom to choose their specific focus within the broad theme given.
    • The theme will be materiality, culture and practice in Leiden’s Wednesday food market.
    • The end product should be a video clip of no more than 90 seconds, and it should consist of no more than three takes.
    • Teams will have the opportunity to edit their video clip using resources and aesthetics of their own choosing.

    The proposed schedule for the second day of the event is as follows:

    9.00     Planning, topics and instructions session
    12.00   Lunch break
    13.00   Hands-on film-making
    15.00   Screening and analysis of videos produced
    17.00   Closure

    For more information or registration, please contact Dr. Genner Llanes Ortiz:

    This initiative has been prepared with the support and collaboration of the following institutions:

    • Centre for Global Heritage and Development 
    • ARCHON
    • LUF
    • Leiden University - Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (associate professor Dr. Mark Westmoreland).
    • Erasmus University Rotterdam - International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) (associate professor Rosalba Icaza).
    • Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) - Maritime Programme (head, Dr. Marijn Manders).
    • University of Amsterdam (UvA) - Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (Media Studies PhD researcher Nur Özgenalp).