DER Documentary

The Yanomamö Series

by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon
color, 7 hrs 8 mins, 1968-1976

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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In 1968 and again in 1971 filmmaker Timothy Asch and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon collaborated on a project to film the Yanomamö Indians. Chagnon had conducted research among the Yanomamo beginning in 1964, and Asch had previously filmed in the field in Africa and Japan. During his first field trip, Chagnon used a 16mm Bolex to film selected aspects of Yanomamö life. In 1968, Asch joined Chagnon, and from this first collaboration two films were produced: The Feast and Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study. The latter film was made in close cooperation with a team of scientists from the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan. A feast was chosen as the subject of the other film for several reasons: it was a predictable event, and as a single event it could be placed in the social and cultural context of the village. Additionally, the feast illustrated some classical anthropological themes - reciprocity and alliance formation - that would complement Chagnon's own published work, particularly his widely-read Yanomamö: The Fierce People.

Between 1968 and 1971 Chagnon returned annually to the field and filmed alone. The footage shot during this period became more meaningful when viewed as part of the larger body of film on the Yanomamo shot collaboratively by Asch and Chagnon in 1971. During 1971 the team (together with Craig Johnson who recorded synchronous sound) shot an additional 80,000 feet of 16mm color film, using Arriflex, Bolex, Nagra, and Uher equipment. The scene of most of this film is the remote village of Mishimishimabowei-teri, a village whose history and inhabitants Chagnon knew well. Several figures in particular are outstanding: Moawa, a village headman and Dedeheiwä, another headman and the leading shaman in Magical Death.

In all, Asch and Chagnon shot approximately 110,000 feet (50 hours) of film on the Yanomamo, much of it in Mishimishimabowei-teri. Thirty-seven films were produced from this footage and initially used in a national introductory curriculum project supported by the National Science Foundation. Today, they have become classics of visual anthropology and continue to be studied in classrooms throughout the world.

Several of these films are also available on the Yanomamö Shorts DVD collection, a 2007 re-mastered/authored 2-disc set which also contains eight previously unreleased short Yanomamö films and additional information about the series.

Films in Yanomamö series
Arrow Game
The Ax Fight
Bride Service
Children's Magical Death
Climbing the Peach Palm
A Father Washes His Children
The Feast
Jaguar, a Yanomamo Twin Cycle Myth
Magical Death
A Man and His Wife Weave a Hammock
A Man Called Bee: Studying the Yanomamo
Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth
Myth of Naro, as told by Dedeheiwä
Myth of Naro, as told by Kaobawä
New Tribes Mission
Ocamo is My Town
Tapir Distribution
Tug-of-War, Yanomamo
Weeding the Garden
Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study
Yanomamö of the Orinoco

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts