Special Initiatives


DER Yanomamö Preservation Campaign

DER has been awarded a matching grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve and remaster 9 classic 16mm films from the Yanomamö Series!

In 1968 and again in 1971, ethnographic filmmaker Timothy Asch and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon formed a unique collaboration to document the Yanomami, an indigenous community living in the Amazon River Basin. The resulting Yanomamö Films Series was a groundbreaking ethnographic media project consisting of 21 finished films that expanded the boundaries of documentary.

We’ve selected a mix of Asch’s innovative short “sequence films,” and films about myth and fieldwork to focus on in this round of preservation (The Ax Fight was restored and preserved in 2001). All of the selected films are in regular demand for teaching and screenings around the world.

  • A Man Called “Bee” (40 min, 1974) Tim Asch’s documentation of Napoleon Chagnon’s fieldwork among the Yanomami.
  • Magical Death (29 min, 1973) documentation of Yanomami shamanism.
  • A Father Washes His Children (15 min, 1974) observational study of a Yanomami headman. 
  • Moonblood: A Yanomamö Creation Myth (14 min, 1976) exploration of Yanomami mythology.
  • Weeding the Garden (14 min, 1974) documentation of everyday Yanomami life.
  • Climbing the Peach Palm (9 min, 1974) observational study of Yanomami tool use.
  • A Man and His Wife Make a Hammock (12 min, 1975) observational study of Yanomami daily life and crafts.
  • Arrow Game (10 min, 1974) documentation of Yanomami children’s games.
  • Children’s Magical Death (7 min, 1974) Yanomami children imitating their shaman fathers.

For this project, we’re partnering with the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archive, the archival repository for the edited Yanomamö Films and their “outtake” footage. Over the past twenty years, the Smithsonian has cared for these materials; this is the best long term home for our films. Once the new masters are created, they’ll go straight into archival, subzero film storage and a copy of the digital files will go into a secure digital asset management system.

The Yanomamö Films Series was one of DER’s two founding collections, and was produced, edited, and distributed all in-house. We are proud to continue to be the caretakers of these innovative pieces of documentary history. We hope you will join us now in ensuring these films will be available to educate, debate, and inspire for another fifty years!

Here is a short video demonstration of the preservation work in progress:

Thank You to All Our Donors!

In 2017, we successfully raised matching funds to enable us to do preservation work on nine Yanomamo films made by Tim Asch and Napoleon Chagnon. That lab work is underway. A heartfelt thanks to all the donors who made our Fall/Winter 2017 Yanomamo Preservation Project fundraising a success.

Adopt-a-Film Donors

The following individuals and groups made significant donations enabling them to  complete the preservation funding needed for an individual film.  Watch for their names in the film preservation credits! Thank you to our Adopt-A-Film Donors!

Arrow Game Emilie de Brigard

Weeding the Garden Sue Marshall Cabezas

A Man Called Bee Robert Lemelson

Climbing the Peach Palm Peter Dow

Magical Death M.A. Visual Anthropology (MAVA), University of Southern California

A Man and His Wife Make a Hammock Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Research (DAER), Temple University: Matthew Durington, Kerim Friedman, Kijung Lee, Jay Ruby, Stephanie Takaragawa

A Father Washes His Children Culture and Media Program, New York University: Alice Apley, Amahl Bishara, Chris Boebel and Christine Walley, Robert Chang, Elaine Charnov, Ximena A. Cuenca, Beth Epstein. Cheryl Furjanic & Will Sweeney, Faye Ginsburg, Brian Larkin and Meg McLagen, Katie Leary, Jason Price, Bambi B. Schieffelin, Sarah Teitler, Deborah Thomas, Pegi Vail

Children’s Magical Death Friends and Alumni of the M.A. Visual Anthropology (MAVA), University of Southern California: Ilisa Barbash, Brittany V. Gates, Wilton Martinez, Nicole Miyahara, Amy Murphy, Nick Rothenberg, Stacy Rowe, Sabrina Skau, Karin Stellwagen, Lucian Taylor, Andy Wilson  

It Takes A Village

And a special thank you to our individual donors as well for their generous support.

Abigail Norman
Dan Albright
Lesli Amos
Alexandra Anthony
Phillip Apley
Athens Ethnographic Film Festival 
Mila Aung-Thwin
Frank Aveni
Sally Berger
Ethan Berry
Jordyn Bonds & Joel Roston
Jennifer Leong Cardwell
Alijah Case 
Maitre Cecile
Erin Chack
Aviva Christie
Dwight Cody
Peter Crawford 
Joyce Crook
Julie Croston
Austin de Besche
Rita Di Gioia
Taylor Dunne & Eric Stewart 
Edward (Ned) Dwyer
Sarah Elder
R. Brian Ferguson 
Wendy Fine
Bob Follansbee
Martha Fuller
Cristoforo Garigliano
Amy Geller 
Pam Gerardi
Sarah Ginsburg
Harriet Gordon & Peter Getzels
John Grady 
Brittany Gravely & Ken Linehan
Eric Gulliver
Margo Guernsey
Rosey Guthrie
Nathaniel Hansen
Claudia Hart

Roger Hart
David Hattis
Paul Henley
Nate Herse
Claudia Hinterseer
Anna Hughes
Allison Jablonko
Sandra Jaffe
John Jimenez
Craig Johnson
Mac Jones
Laurie Kahn
Karl King
Karen Kirchoff
Diane Kolyer
Valerie Lalonde
Tom Land
Sam Low
Joanne S. Luciano
Scott MacDonald
Joel Machak
JoAnna Baldwin
Mallory Keith
Marchiafava Susan
Marsh Ross McElwee
Cynthia McKeown
Kurt Meisenbach
Juris Milestone
Lucas Millard
Michelle Mizner
Modulus Studios
Molly Dog Films
Alex Morelli
Avery Morrow 
Karen Nakamura
Michel Negroponte
Joan Kathryn O’Donnell
Chris O’Neill 
Kathryn Oths
Wolf Owczarek 

Kendra Pardey
Gerald Peary
Ben Pender-Cudlip
Julia Perciasepe
David Plath Susan Porter
Adele Pressman
Ellen Power
Evelyn Quinn
Amy Reams
Michelle Romer
James Rutenbeck
Kate Ryan
Abby Saul
Jeff Schmidt
Ted Sitting Crow Garner
David Slatery
Kristel Smentek
Anna Stabler
Janet Steins
Ivo Strecker & Jean Lydall
Tish Streeten
Barry Strongin
David Tames
Elizabeth Thomas
Katie Tomassetti
Carol Towson
Paul Turano
Nick Vaczek
Rich Van Meter
Luveen Rupchand Wadhwani
Melanie Wallace
Ian Wellman
Eugenia West 
Michele Westmorland
Mark Westmoreland 
Lawrence Wilkinson
Pamela Wintle
Will Zavala
Phil Zuckerman


The preservation and remastering of these and other films is on-going. We need your support.  Please consider a donation to DER to allow us to continue this work. And we’d love to talk to you about additional Adopt-A-Film opportunities.