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



Mike Chamberlain
Carol Nahra
Marcus Prado


Lula Carvalho


Felipe Lacerda


João Nabuco


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


Sundance 2010


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