The Mursi tribe resides in the east African state of Ethiopia. Mursi women are known for placing large plates in their lower lips and wearing enormous, richly decorated earrings, which has become a subject of tourist attraction in recent years.
Each year, hundreds of Western tourists come to see the unusually adorned natives; posing for camera-toting visitors has become the main source of income for the Mursi. To make more money, they embellish their “costumes” and finery to appear more exotic to the outsiders.
Framing the Other portrays the complex relationship between tourism and indigenous communities by revealing the intimate and intriguing thoughts of a Mursi woman from Southern Ethiopia and a Dutch tourist as they prepare to meet each other. This humorous, yet simultaneously chilling film shows the destructive impact tourism has on traditional communities.
The film was screened at over one hundred film festivals worldwide and has received multiple awards. It is currently still being used at schools and universities within an educational package developed by Copper Views.
The film can be streamed on this website.
Director, screenwriter, researcher &
Ethiopia & the Netherlands
Year of production
2010 - 2011
More info on
The full film can be streamed here.
“A welcome addition to anthropology classrooms, as it provides plenty of fodder for students in debating the importance of dismantling the 'Other' and the perceived dangers of 'dressing up' culture.”
- Shauna LaTosky, American Anthropologist Journal
my first film
There are a few moments that profoundly changed the course of my life. And making Framing the Other is definitely one of them. In fact, I never thought I'd become a full-on documentary filmmaker, and it wasn't my ambition to start with. But when I set out to Ethiopia as a tour guide with a group of tourists and witnessed the Mursi community and their interactions with tourists, it all became clear: this story needed to be told through film. My background in anthropology and tourism studies helped me in framing the narrative, but it was mostly my empathy for the Mursi and their vulnerable situation that led me to make the film.
When I started travelling to festivals and engaged in discussions about the film, I gradually started to understand the power that film can have in influencing people's views and values. And that power comes with great responsibility when portraying others. This is something that I keep in the back of my mind with every new film I make.
Framing the Other gained a lot of attention during its film festival tour. Apart from news articles and reviews by film critics that were released, two media releases are dear to me to this day. In 2013 I travelled to the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York. The film was screened alongside David O'Rourke's Cannibal Tours (1988), a film that was an enormous source of inspiration for Framing the Other. After the screening I was interviewed about the film process and the impact it has made. The podcast can be heard here. In addition, academic journal American Anthropologist wrote an extensive article on the importance of the film in academic spheres, with Framing the Other as a case study. The article can be read here.
To this day I am very proud and grateful of the impact of this film and of the sudden turn I took when pursuing a career in tourism.
© 2023 Willem Timmers