N!AI: THE STORY OF A !KUNG WOMAN
John Marshall, Adrienne Miesmer
Michael Ambrosino, Executive Producer, PBS
color, 59 min, 1980, digitally remastered 2009
Available on DSL and DVD: https://store.der.org/nai-the-story-of-a-kung-woman-p572.aspx
This film provides a broad overview of Ju/’hoan life, both past and present, and an intimate portrait of N!ai, a Ju/’hoan woman who in 1978 was in her mid-thirties. N!ai tells her own story, and in so doing, the story of Ju/’hoan life over a thirty year period.
“Before the white people came we did what we wanted,” N!ai recalls, describing the life she remembers as a child: following her mother to pick berries, roots, and nuts as the season changed; the division of giraffe meat; the kinds of rain; her resistance to her marriage to /Gunda at the age of eight; and her changing feelings about her husband when he becomes a healer. As N!ai speaks, the film presents scenes from the 1950’s that show her as a young girl and a young wife.
The uniqueness of N!ai may lie in its tight integration of ethnography and history. While it portrays the changes in Ju/’hoan society over thirty years, it never loses sight of the individual, N!ai.
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