Digital Repatriation in Vietnam: Towards an (Alter)Native Media Tradition

Document Type


Publication Date



The objective in this collaborative project was to return a series of government-made films about the ancient tradition of water puppetry to the village of Bao Ha in the Red River Delta where they were originally shot in order to make this invaluable cultural heritage available to the very community of which they are records. Beyond simply expressing their opinions about these films, five villagers were selected and trained to make films of their own on the topic of water puppetry. We organized a second community screening, but this time the featured films were made by members of the community themselves. In a very powerfully symbolic way this second set of films represents the process of digital repatriation traveling full circle. The hope is that this collaboration will serve as a model for ethnographic filmmaking, as more and more historically marginalized peoples are gaining the skills, technology and need for a fuller understanding of their own past as well as a means to articulate their present and future.