This 1985 John Boorman film can be used as a kickoff for discussion about the many things it shows: destruction of the environment in South America, the extent to which these people have managed to survive & interact with their environment in a balanced fashion, diversity of peoples within the rainforest, and indigenous people's absorption by expanding urban areas. Ideas and themes that arise in this film include the vision quest and rites of passage. Issues include sustainability, destruction of species, ecological disruption, loss of culture. The film is feature length, so scheduling in a short class may be a problem. Review
This 1986 feature film, set in the 1700s, portrays conquest and can be used to raise issues of continued conquest, cultural conflict, and individual morality. It can also be used to promote a discussion of an issue of importance to Spanish and Portuguese explorers, conquistadors, priests and policymakers: do the natives of the New World have souls? Review
This excellent film provides a real, straightforward view of Native American lifestyles. It doesn't romanticize. It addresses real issues of poverty, and intratribal factionalism. It portrays a spiritual/mystical aspect, studying self-discovery via a quest theme.
This film speaks about the discovery of identity through a dream. It is a relatively accurate picture of Native American society. Rather than paint a uni-dimensional picture, it explores the division between traditional & non-traditional Sioux. This too helps the student see the culture as thriving and developing, rather than as a remnant of a previous time.
This film, set in Baffin Island, addresses the issue of the "other." It gives students an idea of real cultural clash and of ways of connecting in spite of cultural clash. It shows the depth of connection of people to their different cultures, and the changes people go through because of contact. The difficulties of communication can even be highlighted by versions without subtitles; the story progresses with the natives' speech understood by the students no better than it was understood by the stranded whalers.
These excellent and compelling films, featuring the work of David Maybury-Lewis, approach current issues faced by indigenous populations. The issues here include drug addiction, disruption of indigenous peoples, suicide. The films are suitable for many different subject areas in the social and political sciences. In classrooms, students are too often given images of Native Americans that present art, dance, mythology or even scenery, and too often students see Native American culture as a relic rather than as a thriving entity. These films show the real challenges of the title: cultural survival!
Ishi, certainly the most famous California Indian, is famous unfortunately as a living relic. This powerful film goes into what really happened to Ishi in that life as a living exhibit. It discusses the exploitative relationship between him and linguist Edward Sapir. Anthropologist Alfred Kroeber had a nervous breakdown and left the department, feeling remorse over what happened to Ishi. This film not only presents the work that Kroeber and Ishi accomplished; it also talks about what happens to informants, and how informants have been used in anthropology. It is essential for all students in the discipline to see this film. If you don't feel anything after seeing it, you need to go have yourself checked for vital signs. University of California Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning
In the earliest days of ethnographic filmmaking, Curtis portrayed native peoples as he wanted them to be, not as they were. The films show staged, directed, plotted images. Some of the art, dance, and artifacts of the peoples are there to see. There is, however, no native perspective. Curtis' films are best used as examples in an ethnographic film course, not in a cultural anthropology course, especially an introductory one.
An Alaskan Eskimo woman, Simrock Mary, introduced the first reindeer herd to the Alaskan Arctic at the turn of the last century, and made her fortune. This biography is 27 minutes long, leaving plenty of time for class discussion about Eskimo culture, women's roles, and the history of the area. Filmakers Library
This film takes the viewer from summer to summer, throughout a year. It gives a complete picture of the social organization of the Navajo, migration patterns, seasonal observances, etc. It reflects a native perspective.
Here again is an accurate representation from the native point of view; the people talk about themselves, in their own voices, rather than have an anthropologist talk about them.
Focusing on a young Loucheux woman's annual visit to her family at their summer fishing camp to help them prepare for the winter, this film speaks not only to the traditional culture of the Loucheux, but also -- like the best of films about Native Americans -- to the vibrancy of that culture as a "living heritage." Because of its unique focus, this film, does, in fact, study Crossing Borders -- the name of the collection that features it.
Lisa, Gloria and Muriel Miguel, three Native American sisters growing up in Brooklyn during the 1930s and 40s, are the subject of this film combining musical theatre, personal memoir, and documentary. These women are gifted storytellers, and bring song and laughter to their powerful stories. The Cinema Guild
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