War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan


In this masterclass, John Baily will describe his experiences as both filmmaker and ethnomusicologist over forty years, starting with a rare screening of Beyond the Blues: A Portrait of Hughie Flint, which he made with Paul Henley, when they were both RAI Film Training Fellow at the NFTS 1984–86. This will serve as an introduction to the principles of observational cinema, and will be followed by a discussion of Amir: An Afghan Refugee Musician’s Life in Peshawar, Pakistan (1985), which he also made at the NFTS. From this starting point, he will then outline his use of the camcorder as a research tool in the creation of ‘fieldwork movies’ in his work on music in the Afghan transnational community.

John Baily is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London. Four of his ‘fieldwork movies’ are included on a DVD in his monograph War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan: The Ethnographer’s Tale (Ashgate-Routledge 2015).

The RAI Film Festival – RAI-FF – is a biennial event dedicated to the celebration of the best in ethnographic,anthropological and archaeological filmmaking from around the globe. First held in 1985, and one of the longest-established in its field, RAI-FF has served as a leading forum for exploring the multiple relationships between documentary filmmaking , anthropology, visual culture, and the advocacy of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through film.

It is organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute in partnership with the Centre for Visual Anthropology,University of Southern California Dornsife and in the UK, with departments of the Universities of Bristol, Exeter (incl. Falmouth Film School), Manchester, UWE, Westminster, Goldsmiths.

In 2015 the Festival was held for the first time at the Watershed Cinema, where it is returning for its 15th edition in 2017.