Ngat is Dead: Studying Mortuary Traditions
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What do anthropologists mean when they claim to study the cultural traditions of others by participating in them? This film follows the Dutch anthropologist Ton Otto, who has been adopted by a family on Baluan Island in Papua New Guinea. Due to the death of his adoptive father, he has to take part in mortuary ceremonies, whose form and content are passionately contested by different groups of relatives.
Through prolonged negotiations, Ton learns how Baluan people perform and transform their traditions and not least what role he plays himself. The film is part of long-term field research, in which filmmaking has become integrated in the ongoing dialogue and exchange between the islanders and the anthropologist.
“Straddling the permeable genres of ethnographic, participatory, and narrator-driven documentary, this one-hour DVD will be an extremely useful teaching resource. It presents anthropological insights prompted by filmmaking grounded in long-term familiarity and involvement with a community. It also demonstrates the benefits of an anthropologically trained film crew. ...As an ethnographic film that demonstrates the value and developing insights of long-term fieldwork, this is excellent.” — Mike Poltorak, University of Kent, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2010
Film Festivals, Screenings & Awards
Freiburger Film Forum, Germany, 2009
Royal Anthropological Institute International Festival of Ethnographic Film, Leeds, England, 2009
Prix du Patrimoine Culturel Immatériel, Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris, 2008 Beeld voor Beeld, Bogotá, Colombia, 2008 DIEFF, Delhi International Ethnographic Film Festival, Delhi, India, 2008 13th Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnográfico, Brazil, 2008 IV Moscow International Visual Anthropology Festival, Russia, 2008 VISCULT 2008: The Festival of Visual Culture, Finland, 2008 SIEFF, Sardinia International Ethnographic Film Festival, Nuoro, Italy, 2008 XXII Pärnu International Film Festival, Estonia, 2008 Beeld voor Beeld, Amsterdam, 2008 Days of Ethnographic Film, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2008 Worldfilm: Tartu Festival of Visual Culture, Estonia, 2008 BILAN, Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris, 2008 The International Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec, Canada, 2008 XVI International Festival of Ethnological Film in Belgrade, Serbia, 2007 TIEFF, Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival, Taipei, Taiwan, 2007 NAFA, Nordic Anthropological Film Festival in Trondheim, Norway, 2007