Filmmaker, writer, poet, literary theorist, educator, musical composer, and (un/non)ethnographer, Trinh T. Minh-ha builds much of her work around the theme of the “other” (the persona one considers him/herself to be in relation to), challenging cultural theorists’ traditional notions of the subject or/subjected duality. She performed three year’s worth of ethnographic field research in West Africa the Research Expedition Program of the University of California, Berkeley. This fieldwork led in part to her first film, Reassemblage, which was filmed in Senegal and released in 1982.
Trinh’s views on traditional ethnographic documentaries are hinted at in one of her voice-overs that occurs early in the film. She states: “I do not intend to speak about/Just speak near by.” The film is a montage of fleeting images from Senegal and includes almost no narration, save for the occasional statements by Trinh, none of which attempt to assign meaning to the seconds-long scenes. Where one expects an omniscient, scientific voice to override the moving pictures in order to overlay a mapping schema of “meaning,” there is sometimes music, sometimes no sound, sometimes Trinh assigning a reality or sign to the culture it hopes to “know” by viewing a movie, she refuses to make the film be “about” something, refuses to speak about the images, and denies the hopeful observer the opportunity to record, categorize, and save an (“other”) culture. The viewer is left with a sense of disorientation, in that no meaning was assigned to any of the images in the film, and yet the viewer’s mind was constantly expecting such designations. —voices.cla.umn.edu
Trinh T. Minh-ha was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1952. She is a filmmaker, writer, academic and compser, brought up in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She studied piano and music composition at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Saigon. Trinh T. Minh-ha immigrated to the United States in 1970. Trinh studied music composition, ethnomusicology, and French literature at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she received her M.F.A.s and Ph.D. degree. Trinh T. Minh-ha currently teaches in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley since 1994 and in the Department of Rhetoric since 1997. She has also taught at Harvard, Smith, Cornell, San Francisco State University, the University of Illinois, Ochanomizu University in Japan and the National Conservatory of Music in Senegal. 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… read more
Along with all its other merits ... this film highlights, exposes, critiques and teaches us all the true nature of sound in cinema. Its power, it's manipulative tendencies, its weakness and above all it's importance. I Agree with CINEMA1968's comment that anyone who makes documentaries should watch this, but I would push it further and say that anyone who makes any kind of film should watch this.
everybody who makes a documentary should be forced to watch this at least twice before commencing. for those who are going to shoot abroad, they should watch it thrice.