A once in a lifetime portrayal of the Dani,a people in Western New Guinea, through the depiction of a farmer-warrior and a young pig-keeper. This very important film was chosen in 1998 as a “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” film to be preserved in the United States Library of Congress. In collaboration with Ethnofest. The screening will be introduced by anthropologist Silas Michalakas
USA | 1963 | COLOR & B&W | DCP | 84' | ENGLISH
“Dead Birds” is a cinematographic interpretation of the life of Dani in West New Guinea. This film focuses on Weyak, farmer and warrior, and on Pua, the young swineherd, following them through the events of Dani life: sweet potato horticulture, pig keeping, battles, raids, and ceremonies. The title has a meaning that is both immediate and allegorical. In the Dani language the words refer to the weapons and ornaments recovered in battle. Their other, more poetic meaning comes from the Dani belief that people, because they are like birds, must die.
“Dead Birds” is an attempt to film a people from within and to see, when the chosen fragments were assembled, if they could speak not only about the Dani, but also about ourselves.
DIRECTOR: Robert Gardner
SCREENWRITER: Peter Matthiessen
ROBERT GARDNER (1925-2014)
Robert Gardner was the director of the Film Study Center at Harvard University from 1957 to 1997. He is one of the most internationally renowned filmmakers and authors whose works have entered the permanent canon of non-fiction filmmaking.
1985 Forest of Bliss
1974 Rivers of Sand
1963 Dead Birds
1957 The Hunters