DER Documentary

A Celebration of Origins

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by E. Douglas Lewis, Timothy Asch and Patsy Asch
color, 45 min, 1992




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The people of the Tana 'Ai region of Flores, Indonesia live in seven ceremonial domains, of which Wai Brama is the largest and the oldest. The people of Wai Brama are shifting cultivators, hunters and gatherers who, unlike their neighbors, have maintained their traditional ceremonial and social system.

A Celebration of Origins, filmed in 1980, depicts the first celebration of these rituals since 1960. The rituals, which require the participation of the entire community, had been delayed by poor harvests and epidemics. The film focuses on a small group of ritual leaders who struggle to hold the celebration in the absence of the Source of the Domain, the ritual leader of the community, who died after initiating the rituals.

Evoking the contested nature of ritual, the film demonstrates how ritual performance implicates delicate political relationships based on pragmatic alliances, festering antipathies or developing jealousies. Conflict is the thread that weaves together the disparate themes of the film. It is a finely crafted, sensually striking film with a compelling story that focuses on one of the central themes in contemporary anthropological debate: the contested nature of social - and ritual - life.

This film complements E. Douglas Lewis' published work on Tana 'Ai, including People of the Source: The Social and Ceremonial Order of Tana Wai Brama on Flores, in addition to the films Timothy and Patsy Asch made in collaboration with anthropologists James J. Fox and Linda Connor on the islands of Roti and Bali.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Society For Visual Anthropology commendation 1993.
Award for Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology Film & Video Festival, 1993
34th Festival dei Popoli, Florence, Italy, 1993
1st Prize, Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris, 1994
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, California 1993, 1994

Related Resources
Study Guide

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Jero Tapakan Series
Unity Through Culture



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