Festival success for Bristol filmmakers
Press release issued: 23 October 2006
A controversial film about the rock art of the Sahara Desert has been chosen to open the Icronos International Archaeology Film Festival of Bordeaux.
A controversial film about the rock art of the Sahara Desert has been chosen to open the Icronos International Archaeology Film Festival of Bordeaux on October 24.
Made by Bristol University anthropologist, Dr Jeremy Keenan, The Lesser Gods, is a powerful documentary about the expedition of French archaeologist Henry Lhote to the Tassili-n-Ajjer mountains of southern Algeria. These were claimed at the time to be the ‘world’s greatest museum of rock art’. The new film, which includes footage from the original expedition in 1956, shows that several of the discoveries were actually fraudulent, and that the rock art is much less spectacular than Lhote claimed at the time.
The film is one of four that have been made on the cultural heritage of the Sahara, and have been shot on location in Libya and Algeria. Rare access was allowed to some of the most remote and difficult locations by the government authorities, and Keenan is one of the few people currently allowed to film in Algeria.
While there are no plans yet to show these films on domestic television, it is hoped that their screening at the Bordeaux festival will raise awareness of this region.
Jeremy Keenan said: “We believe that we have uncovered one of the great archaeological frauds of the 20th century. It is particularly gratifying that this will get its first airing in France, where the fraud began. The film’s selection and viewing at Bordeaux is part of a rising intellectual movement in France to ‘Right the Past’”.
The film is one in a series of four films that Jeremy Keenan has recently made on the ‘ethno-archaeological’ heritage of the Sahara. Two of the films (Travelling with Tuareg and The Lesser Gods) are on the Algerian Sahara, and two (Waters under the Earth and A Forgotten Civilisation) are on Libya.
Dr Keenan is a teaching and visiting fellow at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol. He is an acknowledged expert on the cultures and peoples of the Sahara, and has published numerous books and articles on the Tuareg.