Secrets of the Tribe (image 1)

The field of anthropology goes under the magnifying glass in this fiery investigation of the seminal research on Yanomami Indians.

Sundance Film Festival

Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

Secrets of the Tribe 2009

Directed by José Padilha

Startling doco about academic views of tribal life in the Amazon. “The field of anthropology goes under the magnifying glass in this fiery investigation of the seminal research on Yanomami Indians.” — Sundance Film Festival

Brazil / UK In English, French, Portuguese and Spanish with English subtitles
94 minutes

Director

Producers

Mike Chamberlain
,
Carol Nahra
,
Marcus Prado

Photography

Lula Carvalho

Editor

Felipe Lacerda

Music

João Nabuco

With

Napoleon Chagnon
,
Kenneth Good
,
Patrick Tierney
,
Terence Turner
,
Jesus Cardoso
,
Brian Ferguson
,
Edward O. Nelson
,
James V. Neel
,
Robert Borofsky
,
Barbara Johnston
,
Marie-Claude Muller
,
Leslie Sponsel
,
Ray Hames

Festivals

Sundance 2010

Elsewhere

The Yanomami, indigenous to Amazonian Brazil, once considered the last ‘untouched’ society, have long fascinated Western anthropologists. They have been the subject of films (many of them excerpted here) and multifarious published studies since the 60s when Napoleon Chagnon’s Yanomamo: The Fierce People described their bloody intertribal wars. Soon Kenneth Good’s books countered this view, unleashing a flood of New Age media portraying Yanomami as peaceful innocents. Meanwhile Lévi-Strauss protégé Jacques Lizot conducted close linguistic studies and propounded surprising conclusions about Yanomami sexuality. The title of this startling new documentary by Brazilian José Padilha (Bus 174, Elite Squad) is deeply, angrily ironic: the tribal secrets that concern him are those revealed by feuding anthropologists about their own kind. Spelling out each other’s gross ethical breaches, they damn their academic discipline resoundingly. Padilha lets understandably sceptical Yanomami recount their views of the horror stories. — BG