Mike Poltorak (UK) is a medical and visual anthropologist based at the University of Kent. His collaborative philosophy of film making was inspired by two years of research on traditional healing and mental illness in the South Pacific island group of Tonga where he learned the importance of the relationship between filmmaker and subjects to creating a film with integrity and utility for the community.
His fascination in the healing power of touch and longstanding love of dance and movement came together fortuitiously when he discovered CI in Sweden in 2009.
The anthropological value of the documentary for him is born of the depth of collaboration and involvement of the filmmakers, the attention to contemporary cinematography and editing, and the research potential of the documentary. Anthropological documentary for him is one part of a journey of research and engagement, which aims at social change. The collaborative and feedback based process he follows has led to two films, ‘Fun(d)raising’ (a film about Tongan comedy) and ‘ One Week West of Molkom’ (a collaborative documentary on volunteers at the ‘No Mind’ festival in the community of Angsbacka in central Sweden). His most recent video experiment on Contact Improvisation was with Johan Nilsson and Irene Sposetti on a contact improvisation performance at that festival.
This followed several years of experimenting with video and contact improvisation at three ECITE (European Contact Improvisation Teacher Exchange) meetings in Finland, Ibiza and Bern. ‘Five Ways In’ build on previous anthropological knowledge on CI and has been informed by anthropological research and involvement in the form for many years.
‘Personally, I was inspired by the transformational impact the form had on bodymind integration. As a visual anthropologist, I was inspired by the ‘shared anthropology’ and feedback methodology of Jean Rouch. ‘