There continues to be significant debate about what constitutes an “ethnographic film.” Contemporary standards for production require large budgets and sophisticated film crews, and as a result marginalizes those films produced at the local level designed to meet local needs. This article documents the process of creating a participatory ethnographic film at the behest of a group of Q’eqchi’ Maya medical practitioners in Belize. From conception through to the approval of the final cut and distribution, the project was directed by the practitioners and executed on a shoestring budget and ‘in kind’ contributions. I argue that the genre of ethnographic film must accommodate local level aesthetic sensibilities about what constitutes a “good” representation of cultural issues, and consider the nature of the intended audience, thereby allowing space for a collaborative filmmaking process attendant to the world of the participants rather than that of international film festivals.
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