... is the Wodaabe world disappearing? and how are we to place the painted male faces? The very considerable success of this film is the ways it answers these questions. J. Picton

51 minutes Colour 1988
Filmmaker: Leslie Woodhead
Anthropologist: Mette Bovin

The Wodaabe follow their herds in an endless migration across the borders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon in search of pasture. The droughts which have ravaged the Sahel since the late 1960s have devastated Wodaabe cattle herds, and this film looks at the daily pattern of survival of one hard-pressed family group at the height of the dry season. Gorjo bi Rima and his family have been the focus of Mette Bovin's fieldwork since 1968 and she has seen his herds decline from more than 300 cows to less than half a dozen. Yet, as she emphasises, the Wodaabe see their life as a balance between hardship and joy, and the film expresses this in sequences which record a child's naming feast and the Wodaabe's obsession with male beauty and adornment. `We like beauty,' Gorjo says. `We like to see people who are young and handsome and this is why we put on make-up.' The elaborate make-up of the young men and their dances, a kind of male beauty contest to gain the attention of women, are linked to a complex system of taboos which the Wodaabe insist they will maintain despite mounting pressures to abandon their nomadic lives.

For another view of the Wodaabe and additional bibliographic references, see the entry for Deep Hearts (in RAI Film Library Catalogue Volume II).

A.M. Bonfiglioli, 1988. Dudal. Histoire de Famille et Histoire de Troupeau Chez un Groupe de Wodaabe du Niger. Cambridge University Press.

M. Bovin, 1974/5. `Ethnic Performances in Rural Niger: An Aspect of Ethnic Boundary Maintenance'. Folk (Copenhagen), Vol. 16/17, pp. 459­74.

M. Bovin, 1985. `Nomades "Sauvages" et Paysans "Civilisés": Wodaabe et Kanuri au Borno'. Journal des Africanistes, Vol. 55, No. 1/2, pp. 53­73.

M. Bovin, 1990. `Nomads of the Drought: Fulbe and Wodaabe Nomads between Power and Marginalisation (Burkina Faso and Niger Republic)'. In M. Bovin and L. Manger (eds.) Adaptive Strategies in African Arid Lands. Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Uppsala.

M. Bovin, 1990. `"Mariages de la Maison" et "Mariages de la Brousse" dans les Sociétés Peules, WoDaaBe et Kanuri autour du Lac Tchad'. In N. Echard et al (eds.) 4ème Colloque MEGA-TCHAD. ORSTOM and CNRS, Paris.

M. Dupire, 1975 (1962). Peuls Nomades. Etude Descriptive des WoDaaBe du Sahel Nigérien. Institut d'Ethnologie, Paris.

J. Picton, 1988. Review of the film. Anthropology Today, Vol. 4, No. 5, p. 23.

C. Ver Eecke, 1989. Review of the film. American Anthropologist, Vol. 91, pp. 835­36.

C. White, 1984. `Herd Reconstruction; The Role of Credit Among WoDaabe Herders in Central Niger'. Cambridge Anthropology Vol.9, No.2, pp.30­42.

The film vividly and carefully records the technical process involved in catching cetaceans and large fish, culminating in the catch itself. R. Ellen

51 minutes Colour 1988
Filmmaker: John Blake
Anthropologist: Robert Barnes

The Whale Hunters of Lamalera was filmed over a period of four weeks during June 1987. Lamalera is a village which is perched on the rocky slopes of an active volcano on the southern coast of the island of Lembata, in Nusa Tenggara Timur in eastern Indonesia. An anonymous Portuguese document of 1624 describes the islanders as hunting whales with harpoons for their oil, and implies that they collected and sold ambergris. This report confirms that whaling took place in the waters of the Suva Sea at least two centuries before the appearance of American and English whaling ships at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The film follows the daily life of the villagers of Lamalera, a community of about 1500 people. The Christian Mission has been in place in the community for a hundred years, schools have been established and a training workshop teaches carpentry. It is a fishing village in a region where most communities support themselves by agriculture. Lamalera has very little productive land, so the villagers have to fish in order to survive. Their preferred quarry is sperm whale. Catching sperm whale with hand-thrown harpoons from small open boats powered by muscle and palm-leaf sail is no easy task, and the hunt is by no means uneven between man and whale. The tail flukes of a whale can smash the timbers of the boats and many boats are temporarily disabled by their prey. Harpooners have been disabled and killed. But the attraction of the whale is its size. The flesh of the whale (and shark and manta ray) is cut into strips and sun dried in the village. The meat is then carried to small markets where it is bartered with mountain villagers. One strip of dried fish or meat is equivalent to twelve ears of maize, twelve bananas, twelve pieces of dried sweet potatoes, twelve sections of sugar cane, or twelve sirih peppers plus twelve pinang nuts.

Commercial whaling is banned throughout much of the world, but subsistence whaling is permitted by International Whaling Commission regulations in Alaska, the USA, the USSR and Greenland. Indonesia is not, however, a signatory to the IWC. Seven whales were caught in Lamalera in 1987.

R. Barnes, 1989. The Ikat Textiles of Lamalera. E.J. Brill, Leiden.

R.H. Barnes, 1974. `Lamalerap: A Whaling Village in Eastern Indonesia'. Indonesia, No. 17, pp. 137­59.

R.H. Barnes, 1984. Whaling Off Lembata: The Effects of a Development Project on an Indonesian Community. IWGIA Document 48. International Workgroup On Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen.

R.H. Barnes, 1985. `Whaling Vessels of Indonesia'. In S. McGrail and E Kentley (eds.) Sewn Plank Boats. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.

R.H. Barnes and R. Barnes, 1989. Barter and Money in an Indonesian Village Economy. Man N.S., Vol. 24, pp. 399­418.

R. Ellen, 1988. Review of the film. Anthropology Today, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 23­24.

66 minutes Colour
Director: Brian Moser
Anthropologists: Peter Silverwood-Cope, Stephen and Christine Hugh-Jones

While relying on a polemical stance directed against the cultural genocide wrought by missionaries, War of the Gods also contains a wealth of information and detail about Amazonian Indian cosmology, social life and sexual division of labour. Two groups of Indians from the Vaupés region of Colombia are shown, the Makú, who live mainly by hunting and gathering, and the sedentary Barasana, who live mainly by farming.

The film contrasts the belief systems and way of life of the Indians, presented by the anthropologists who worked and lived with them, with those of Protestant and Catholic missionaries. The Protestants, North American Fundamentalists from the Summer Institute of Linguistics, are said to have used their organisation as a cover in order to be allowed to work with the Indians, because open Protestant missionary activity would not have been acceptable to the authorities.

No attempt is made to gloss over the complexities of contact between Whites and Indians: the Barasana themselves want change, and the missionaries' influence is undoubtedly more beneficial to the Indians than that of rubber gatherers. Included in this film is an interview - using voice-over - with a Makú shaman, and there are scenes from the Barasana moloka, the communal house which is a centre of social and domestic activity. The climax of the film is a contrasting look at a church service at the S.I.L. headquarters, a Barasana ritual dance (accompanied by the ritual use of the hallucinogen yagé), and a Mass at the Catholic mission attended by some of the Indians who took part in the ritual dance.

Some missionaries who have seen this film consider that its editing is unfair to the S.I.L., but the head of another important missionary organisation has said that it should be screened during missionary training courses.

C. Hugh-Jones, 1979. From the Milk River: Spatial and Temporal Processes in Northwest Amazonia. Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, No. 26. Cambridge University Press.

S. Hugh-Jones, 1978. A Closer Look at Amazonian Indians. The Archon Press, London. (Book intended for children aged 10­14.)

S. Hugh-Jones, 1979. The Palm and the Pleiades: Initiation and Cosmology in Northwest Amazonia. Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, No. 24. Cambridge University Press.

B. Saler, 1974. Review of the film. American Anthropologist, Vol. 76, pp. 210­212.

51 minutes Colour 1989
Filmmaker: Peter Carr
Anthropologist: William Kavanagh

The 130 villagers of Navalguijo in the Sierra de Gredos of Central Spain live in a village perched high in the mountains and they face an extreme climate with very cold winters and hot summers. The soil is acid and poor, and the steep slopes and short growing season mean that agriculture cannot provide a living.

Collectively the villagers own summer pastures high in the mountains, and individually they hold smaller autumn pastures. With access to winter pastures across the mountains in the region of Extremadura, they are able to maintain a large herd of beef cattle, which form their main source of wealth and which are their dearest possessions.

To make this film, the crew joined the village men on their trek to Extremadura, when they drive their cattle down the mountains. This cattle drive is a mixture of hard work and holiday, with passing round of leather wine bottles, story-telling and evening stopovers at favourite inns punctuating the long march.

This film portrays a society whose ideals of village co-operation and the rigid and efficient organisation of tasks have given the village a strong sense of identity over generations. It remains to be seen if this sense of identity survives the breakdown of their isolation from the outside world as tourists discover `hidden Spain' and better communications and roads bring increasing contact with the rest of the country.

S. Brandes, 1975. Migration, Kinship and Community: Tradition in a Spanish Village. Academic Press, London. [Examines a village not far from the one in the film, but whose economy and style of life are very different.]

G. Brenan, 1957. South from Granada. Hamish Hamilton, London.

J. Pitt-Rivers, 1971. The People of the Sierra. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [Although the book deals with Andalusia and not with Old Castille where the film is set, it is considered a classic of Spanish anthropology.]

S. Tax-Freeman, 1970. Neighbours: The Social Contract in a Castillian Hamlet. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

S. Tax-Freeman, 1979. The Pasiegos: Spaniards in No-man's Land. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [Deals with cattle herders in Santander whose way of life is quite different from that of the villagers in the film.]