The Yanomamo Series
by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon
color, 7hrs 8mins
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In 1968 and again in 1971 filmmaker Timothy Asch and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon collaborated on a project to film the Yanomamo 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 Yanomamo life. In 1968, Asch joined Chagnon, and from this first collaboration two films were produced: The Feast and Yanomamo: 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 Yanomamo: 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 Dedeheiwa, 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 Yanomamo Shorts DVD collection, a 2007 re-mastered/authored 2-disc set which also contains eight previously unreleased short Yanomamo films and additional information about the series.
Films in Yanomamo series
The Ax Fight
Children's Magical Death
Climbing the Peach Palm
A Father Washes His Children
Jaguar, a Yanomamo Twin Cycle Myth
A Man and His Wife Weave a Hammock
Man Called Bee: Studying the Yanomamo
Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth
Myth of Naro, as told by Dedeheiwa
Myth of Naro, as told by Kaobawa
New Tribes Mission
Ocamo is My Town
Weeding the Garden
Yanomamo: A Multidisciplinary Study
Yanomamo of the Orinoco
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