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Ruoff takes film to Sardinia festival

Documentary follows 'maverick' filmmaker's travels

Jeffrey Ruoff will travel in October to an island off the coast of Italy to show a film  he made about a man who travels, showing a film he made - a filmmaker within a film.


Jeffrey Ruoff, Assistant Professor of Film and Television Studies, will show his 1998 documentary, The Last Vaudevillian, at an ethnographic film festival in Sardinia, Italy, in October. (photo by Trent Campbell)

Ruoff's 1998 documentary, The Last Vaudevillian: On the Road with Travelogue Filmmaker John Holod, was accepted at the 22nd International Ethnographic Film Festival on the island of Sardinia. It follows Holod as he presents his Cuban travelogue on tour from New York to Florida. He travels in his motor home, where he lives and independently produces his travelogues.

In Ruoff's film, Holod is seen at colleges and clubs, showing his film Cuba at the Crossroads, cracking jokes and lecturing. Holod typically gives more than 100 lectures each winter, and he shoots footage in the summer.

"He is an independent filmmaker par excellence," Ruoff writes about Holod on his website. "He has produced, directed, shot, edited, narrated, and distributed six feature travelogues."

The International Ethnographic Film Festival is held every two years on the Italian island of Sardinia, and each festival has a theme. Past themes include "men and rivers," "magic and medicine in traditional societies," and "the world upside down or carnival and controlled transgression." This year's theme is "tourism/tourisms."

"I'm very excited to attend," said Ruoff, Assistant Professor of Film and Television Studies. "It's a great opportunity to meet European colleagues of visual anthropology."

Ethnographic film is usually thought of as a subset of documentary film, in which the filmmaker chronicles the subject from close up, and in the case of The Last Vaudevillian, in Holod's motor home for 10 days.

At a conference for travelogue lecturers in Las Vegas, Ruoff met Holod, and noticed the difference right away between him and the other filmmakers. Holod wasn't staying at the Luxor Hotel, rather in the Luxor Hotel's parking lot, in his motor home, which was equipped with satellite television, a global positioning system, a computer, films, videos, projectors, tuxedos and a refrigerator full of enormous carrots for his juicer. Later, Holod agreed to be the subject of Ruoff's film.

"I admire the maverick side of him," Ruoff said. "He may just be a traveling salesman, but he has acquired lots of film-making skills and lives an offbeat life."

By AMANDA WEATHERMAN

NEW DVD

A Jeffrey Ruoff documentary, Hacklebarney Tunes: The Music of Greg Brown, has just been released on DVD as a companion to Greg Brown's latest CD, If I Had Known. Produced in 1993, the film documents Brown's upbringing in rural Iowa as the son of an itinerant preacher, his strong connection to Iowa, and his music.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08