Gary Kildea interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 3rd November 2006
0:05:05 Born in Sydney, Australia, 1948, of Irish ancestry; went to Catholic school where didn't do very well; didn't go to university but wanted to go into the film industry; making films even when in high school with 8mm borrowed cameras; did a holiday job and bought an instamatic camera; got interested in photography and saved up for a SLR camera; read books on film making including 'The Simple Art of Making Films' by Tony Rose; left school at 16 and went into the sound department of a general film studio which did everything from advertisments to documentaries; couple of years later got opportunity to do sound edits on feature films and then to picture editing
4:46:20 Starting at 16, by 20 beginning to be a film editor; started to get interested in Papua New Guinea; father was there during the war as an electrician building airstrips and showed us pictures; Papua given by British to Australia at turn of the century; at that stage German New Guinea to north and Dutch New Guinea to west; latter now Indonesia and Germany stripped of colony after the war and became a U.N. mandated territory which was administered by Australia from 1919 to 1975 when it gained independence; first went there end of 1970; got a job in Department of Information Film Unit as director-cameraman; made films for the administration but later got a chance to make ethnographic films
8:29:18 First film was 'Bugla Yunggu' about the great Chimbu pig festival; went up by myself with Canon 16mm camera without sound which was recorded separately; this period was when first sync sound was coming in; at that time had not much knowledge of anthropology though did consult later, including Paula Brown who had worked in the area; made a couple more films before 'Trobriand Cricket', one called 'Concerning the Lives of the People' which was my first foray into cinema verite type film with sync sound with the idea of sub-titling; idea of the film was to give some idea of the country at the time of self-government in 1973 which preceded independence in 1975; had freedom to go where I wanted and film in a style that I determined; at that time had not seen the McDougals film or met them at that stage though I had heard of it and inspired me
14:21:22 Around that time Jerry Leach who had been working in the Trobriand contacted me and asked if I would like to work on the film which later became 'Trobriand Cricket'; thought I would be confined by anthropological strictures but found there were none; the film was a reconstruction and is described as such several times in the film; it was a demonstration match; working with an anthropologist was progress for me as it introduced me more intimately to the whole notion of anthropology and brought me here to Cambridge 30 years ago to work with Jerry on the editing; in some ways a backward step from unfettered film making towards where I was heading as in 'Celso and Corea'
18:36:10 One of the great things was to come here to Cambridge and to spend the best part of a year here in 1975; I remember going to some seminars, Jack Goody was in charge; remember Stephen Hugh-Jones and Paul Sillito was here; remember Gilbert Lewis whose son is now an anthropologist whom I met at L.S.E. last year; anthropological imagination open to anyone; think anthropology a wonderful philosophy but I am first and foremost a film maker
21:20:08 best in film making has more in common with best in anthropology; people deride visual anthropology as a nonsense as you can't make an argument in a movie; interesting debate philosophically and should be taken seriously as it goes to some of the most profound epistomological notions; most of the debate is at a superficial level with epistomological concerns mixed up with institutional concerns; arguments for and against visual anthropology; Jay Ruby's hopes for it; fundamental differences in perception and knowledge making in the mind; Kant's reflective and determinant judgements and propositions; Walter Pater's dictum on music relevant to film; anthropological film makers must understand they must go with the event and have it lead to abstractions like Harold Pinter, it is a play
37:55:00 Showing of 'Koriam's Law' at Kent and Bill Watson's comments on the film holding back on explanation; better to read the film as if it were a play rather than an ethnography; other people feel anthropology should be broader than a scientific discipline but should aspire to be a humane and engaged philosophy and more like an art; this is an argument for anthropologists to solve; latest film 'Koriam's Law' made with anthropologist Andrew Lattas is about anthopology, the anthropologist and the informant are the moral centre; description of the beginning of the film which sets out its rationale - black, white, history; contains ethnography but does not constitute ethnography but at the same time it is suffused with anthropology; where else can we find the simple truth that different cultures are equivalent, all trying to solve the same problems of the human organism; Peter, the main informant, says as much at the end ofthe film; worth of anthropology; thoughts on cargo cult and cosmological ideas