41549l.jpg
The audience was full of UW anthropology students last night for the showing of Secrets of the Tribe at the Harvard Exit. This is probably a very good thing, because the movie is a primer on how not to behave as an anthropologist. Tribe documents the history of anthropological contact with the Yanomamö, a preliterate culture in the Amazon. (Brendan Kiley's review is here.) It's a sordid history, full of professional jealousy, ego, violence, war, sex, and pedophilia.

Support The Stranger

While a lot of the film is just made up of interviews with self-satisfied old bearded men (one of whom appears to be constructed out of partially cooked hamburger), Tribe's drama never lets up. The whole time, you're filled with a kind of queasy car-crash curiosity: You have to know what the next horrible thing some white guy is going to do to these poor people in the name of academia.

One day, I bet there'll be a big budget Oscar-winning movie about this whole affair, but until that happens, Secrets of the Tribe is a detailed, thoughtful introduction to plight of the Yanomamö people. It's all done at SIFF, but we'll let you know when it comes back to town.