Timothy Asch was an anthropologist and ethnographic film maker who devoted his professional life to using film as a recording and teaching medium. His papers cover the period from 1966 until his premature death in 1994 and reflect his active career in the field. A large portion of the files relates to his work among the Yanomami people of Venezuela and to his concern with bias in film making.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Timothy Asch document his career as an anthropologist, educator,
photographer and filmmaker through correspondence, photographs, research files
(articles and notes), and teaching materials (course information and lecture notes). The
files relating to Asch's film projects include articles, field notes, and reviews. The major
correspondents in this collection are Patsy Asch, Tom Beidelman, Napoleon Chagnon,
James Fox, Robert Gardner, Douglas Lewis, Peter Loizos, David & Olga Sapir, and
The collection is arranged into the following 13 series:
Series 1) Correspondence (1953-1994)
Series 2) College and graduate School (1955-1965)
Series 3) Teaching materials (1964-1993)
Series 4) Film projects (1964-1991)
Series 5) Articles and reviews (1972-1994)
Series 6) Alpha-Subject (1955-1989)
Series 7) Conferences, film festivals, and film organizations (1963-1993)
Series 8) Grants (1962-1993)
Series 9) Other people's work (1952-1995)
Series 10) Personal and family (1951-1994)
Series 11) Photographs (1947-1991)
Series 12) Sound recordings (bulk 1960s-1970s)
Series 13) Note slips, rolodexes, and business cards (1987, undated)
Asch studied photography at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. While serving in the United States Army in Japan from 1951-55 he spent his off-duty hours photographing rice production and household activities in remote Japanese villages. After his military service, he enrolled in Columbia University graduating in 1959 with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology. After graduation, he went to work at the Peabody Museum at Harvard as an assistant editor to John Marshall on the Kung Bushmen film project. In 1964, he received a Masters Degree in Anthropology from Boston University where he studied in the African Studies Progam and read Anthropology with T.O. Beidelman at Harvard. In 1968, Asch and Marshall founded Documentary Educational Resources, a film distribution company. Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon approached Asch in 1968 to film among the Yanomammmi people of Venezuela. This collaboration led to a major project resulting in over thirty films.
1950-1951 -- California School of Fine Arts and Apprenticeships with photographers Minor White, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams
1953-1954 -- Military Service in Korea
1959 -- B.S. in Anthropology Columbia University
1959-1962 -- Ethnographic film consultant, Harvard University's Peabody Museum
1964 -- M.A. in Anthropology Harvard University
1965-1966 -- Curriculum Consultant, Ethnographic studies and the Bushmen Social Studies Curriculum Project (initially Educational Services, Inc., later called Educational Development Center)
1966-1968 -- Lecturer in Anthropology and Theater Arts, Brandeis University
1966-1968 -- Anthropology Curriculum and Media Consultant to the Newton Public Schools
1967-1994 -- Co-Founder and Director of Documentary Educational Resources, Watertown, Massachusetts, a non-profit curriculum development corporation distributing educational media
1968-1970 -- Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department, New York University
1969-1973 -- Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University
1973-1979 -- Research Fellow in Ethnographic film, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
1974-1976 -- Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
1975 -- Research Cinematographer, National Anthropological Film Center, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1976-1981 -- Senior Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Institute of Advanced Studies, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
1982 -- Visiting Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
1983-1994 -- Director, Center for Visual Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California
The Human Studies Film Archives holds 93,000 feet (43 hours) of original film footage and the accompanying sound as well as the edited films from the 1968 and 1971 film projects by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon documenting the Yanomamo Indians of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil (between the Negro and Upper Orinoco rivers).
Donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Patsy Asch in 1996.
50 Film reels (50 completed films and 1 film series; 110,600 feet of original film outtakes (51 hours); 412 hours of audiotape; 31 digital books)
22 Linear feet (Papers and photographs)
Patagonia (Argentina and Chile)
Documentary filmmaker Jorge Prelorán was best known for his intimate approach to ethnographic film, a style known as "ethnobiography." The majority of Prelorán's films were shot in rural areas of Argentina, particularly the Andean highlands and the Pampas (plains), often in communities of mixed Indian and Spanish heritage. Prelorán documented a wide range of subjects, including art, folk crafts, agriculture, ranching, markets, religious rituals and festivals, and social and cultural change. This collection contains edited films and videos, film outtakes, audio tapes, photographic prints and transparencies, digital books, correspondence, production files, scripts, project files, and press clippings spanning 1954-2008.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains edited films and videos, film outtakes, audio tapes, photographic prints and transparencies, digital books, correspondence, production files, scripts, project files, and press clippings spanning 1954-2008.
The majority of Prelorán's films were shot in rural areas of Argentina, particularly the Andean highlands and the Pampas (plains), often in communities of mixed Indian and Spanish heritage. Prelorán documented a wide range of subjects, including art, folk crafts, agriculture, ranching, markets, religious rituals and festivals, and social and cultural change. Several films focus on natural history and science. There are also a number of experimental and fiction films.
Prelorán formed close friendships with many of the subjects of his films and corresponded with them long after the films were completed. This is reflected in the paper records, as is Prelorán's wide circle of colleagues and collaborators, including anthropologists, musicians, animators, historians, painters, writers, photographers, current and former students at UCLA, and fellow filmmakers. The extensive collection of press clippings, screening notices, and festival catalogs documents Prelorán's influence in Argentina, Europe, and the United States.
In the series of digital books, Prelorán presents the personal stories of individuals involved in creative work. Some books feature subjects profiled in the films, updating or expanding on their stories.
This collection is arranged in 11 series: (1) Completed Films and Videos, 1954-circa 2008; (2) Film Outtakes, 1960s-1980s; (3) Audio, 1969-2008; (4) Correspondence, 1954-2005 (bulk 1967-1992); (5) Production Files, 1961-1998; (6) Project Files, 1967-1995; (7) UCLA, 1968-2005 (bulk 1980s); (8) Press Clippings, 1960-2005; (9) Photographs, 1961-2000; (10) Books, 1994-1998, undated; (11) Electronic Files, circa 2000-circa 2006
Documentary filmmaker Jorge Prelorán was best known for his intimate approach to ethnographic film, a style known as "ethnobiography." In films such as Hermógenes Cayo (Imaginero) (1970), Los Hijos de Zerda (Zerda's Children) (1974), and Zulay Frente al Siglo XXI (Zulay Facing the 21st Century) (1989), Prelorán's protagonists tell their personal stories, while also revealing the stories of their communities and cultures. Prelorán worked in Latin America and the United States, but primarily in his native country of Argentina. His career spanned from 1954 to 2008, including nearly twenty years as a film professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Prelorán was born May 28, 1933 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father, an engineer, was Argentine and had studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he met his wife, an American. Prelorán grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Initially pursuing a career in architecture, he studied at the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires. He made his first film, Venganza, with neighborhood friends in Buenos Aires in 1954. The film won the Beginner's Festival of Cine Club Argentina that same year. Prelorán was accepted as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and studied architecture there for one year. In 1956 he withdrew from UC Berkeley and was drafted into the US Army. Prelorán served in West Germany until 1958. Upon his return he changed educational plans and began formal study of filmmaking, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Motion Pictures from UCLA in 1960.
Shortly before the end of his service in the US Army, Prelorán married Elsa Dondi, a former classmate from Buenos Aires. They lived together in Los Angeles until Elsa returned to Argentina for the birth of their daughter, Adriana, in 1961. The couple separated shortly thereafter.
Prelorán's professional career as a filmmaker began in 1961 with a commission from the Tinker Foundation of New York for a series of films on the Argentine gaucho. In the course of shooting for these films, Prelorán traveled extensively throughout Argentina, visiting many locations in Patagonia and in the northwest where he would later return to make many of his films. From 1963-1969, Prelorán was under contract at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán to produce educational films; he also produced a series of short films on Argentine folklife with support from Fondo Nacional de las Artes and under the mentorship of folklorist Augusto Raúl Cortazar, Ph.D.
In the late 1960s, Prelorán became involved with UCLA's Ethnographic Film Program and in 1970 he returned to UCLA as a lecturer for two semesters. Later that year he was a fellow at Harvard University's Film Study Center, where he produced the English-language version of Imaginero (Hermógenes Cayo). Prelorán was the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, in 1971 and 1975, and used those opportunities to produce quite a number of films, including Damacio Caitruz (Araucanians of Ruca Choroy).
Prelorán remarried in 1972. His wife, Mabel Freddi, became a collaborator on his films. She wrote the screenplay for Mi Tia Nora (My Aunt Nora) (1983) and co-directed Zulay Frente al Siglo XXI (Zulay Facing the 21st Century) (1989), among other credited and un-credited roles. After the Argentine military coup of March 1976 and the disappearances of fellow filmmaker Raymundo Gleyzer and Mabel's niece, Haydee, the Preloráns became fearful for their own safety. They fled to the United States, a move that would become permanent. Prelorán accepted a position as associate professor at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. He later joined the faculty as a tenured professor.
During his time at UCLA, Prelorán was twice selected as a Fulbright Scholar, in 1987 and 1994. He continued to produce films, including the Academy Award-nominated documentary short Luther Metke at 94 (1980) and the 7-hour natural history television series Patagonia (1992). After retiring in 1994, Prelorán continued to mentor film students as Professor Emeritus; he also began work in a new medium, creating a series of digital books, "Nos = Otros" ("Sages Amongst Us") (unpublished), featuring individuals engaged in creative and educational pursuits.
Prelorán died at his home in Culver City, CA at the age of 75 on March 28, 2009.
UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television. "Jorge Prelorán 1933 - 2009." Obituary. Last modified March 31, 2009. Accessed April 1, 2009. http://tft.ucla.edu/news/obituary
Jorge Prelorán Collection. Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Rivera, Fermín. Huellas Y Memoria de Jorge Prelorán. Documentary film. 2010.
Woo, Elaine."Jorge Prelorán dies at 75; Argentine filmmaker and former UCLA professor." Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2009. Web. 29 Apr 2009.
1933 -- Born May 28 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
1952-1954 -- Studies at the College of Architecture, Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Argentina
1954 -- Completes first film, Venganza, a fictional short
1955 -- Studies at the College of Architecture, University of California at Berkeley
1956-1958 -- Drafted into United States Army, stationed in Schwetzingen, West Germany
1959-1960 -- Earns Bachelor of Arts in Motion Pictures from UCLA
1961-1963 -- Produces films on the Argentine gaucho for the Tinker Foundation, New York
1963-1969 -- Produces films at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina
1968 -- Attends the First International Colloquium on Ethnographic Film at UCLA
1969 -- Shoots film for The Warao People in Venezuela, under a grant from the Ford Foundation to the Ethnographic Film Program at UCLA
1970 -- Lecturer at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television Fellow at the Film Study Center, Harvard University
1971 -- Receives first Guggenheim Fellowship; completes several film projects in Argentina
1975 -- Receives second Guggenheim Fellowship; continues filming in Argentina
1976 -- Moves to United States Associate professor at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
1978 -- Guest of Honor at the 2nd Margaret Mead Ethnographic Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History, New York
1980 -- Academy Award nominee for Luther Metke at 94
1985 -- Guest at the White House for a State Dinner in honor of Argentine President Raul Alfonsin
1986 -- Naturalized as a United States citizen
1987 -- First selection as Fulbright Scholar; begins production of the series Patagonia, en Busca de su Remoto Pasado
1994 -- Second selection as Fulbright Scholar; completes pre-production for the narrative feature film "Vairoletto: The Last Gaucho Outlaw" Retires from UCLA as professor emeritus
2009 -- Dies on March 28 in Culver City, California
The Human Studies Film Archives holds a copy of Fermín Rivera's edited biographical documentary film, Huellas y Memoria de Jorge Prelorán (HSFA 2015.1.27), as well as transcripts of interviews conducted with Jorge and Mabel Prelorán for the film (in Spanish).
The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, holds the original film for four titles Prelorán produced for the Tinker Foundation (New York, NY). These are: The Llanero; The Gaucho of Corrientes; The Gaucho of the Pampas; and The Gaucho of Salta. The Ransom Center has both English and Spanish versions of these titles. These four films were preserved in 2010 and 2011 with funding from the Tinker Foundation. HSFA holds high quality video masters of all four titles. A fifth film produced for the Tinker Foundation, El Gaucho Argentino, Hoy (The Argentine Gaucho, Today), is held at the HSFA in its Spanish version only.
The Arthur Hall Collection at Temple University, Phildadelphia, Pennsylvania and Ile Ife Films in Belfast, Maine hold a copy of The Unvictorious One that differs from the two versions held at the HSFA.
This collection was donated to the Human Studies Film Archives in two accessions. The first accession, 2007-10, contains the edited films, outtakes, audio recordings, papers, and photographs and was donated by Jorge Prelorán. Materials had been stored at Prelorán's home office and home editing suite before they were packed by the processing archivist and sent to the HSFA. The second accession, 2011-07, contains the digital books and some additional photographs. This accession was donated by Mabel Prelorán. These materials had also been stored at Prelorán's home office and were sent to the HSFA by Mabel Prelorán.
The collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Various copyrights and restrictions on commercial use apply to the reproduction or publication of film, video, audio, photographs, and the digital books.
Access to the Jorge Prelorán collection requires an appointment.