Captured by Women by Alison Kahn (2011)

Captured by Women is a one-hour documentary in four parts that focuses on film footage by two British women in the 1930s, in the film collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum.

The original footage on which the documentary is based, by Beatrice Blackwood in Papua New Guinea (1936–7) and Ursula Graham Bower in Manipur, India (1939), is also available on this website.

Captured by Women was produced by the anthropologist and filmmaker Alison Kahn at The Oxford Academy of Documentary Film, in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museum, and with the help of a grant from UK Film Council via Screen South.

As part of the project, Alison Kahn interviewed experts and relations of the filmmakers, and the film narrates the lives of the women as well as investigating their motivations in making these films.

The film uses the notion of magical transformation as a part of cultural translation through film to lead the viewer from the Pitt Rivers Museum’s displays and the objects collected by both women, to their photographs, and finally the original film footage.

This one-hour documentary has been filmed on HD for a cinematic release and incorporates the pixilation method of rapid D-SLR photography that animates the objects discussed. The experience of watching the original 16mm film with the sound of projection, that would have been the only aural accompaniment to the silent film footage, is combined with the presentation of scenes and sound effects made with current digital technology.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four