The first ethnographic documentary? Luiz Thomaz Reis, the Rondon Commission and the making of Rituais e Festas Borôro (1917)

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Abstract

Although rarely mentioned in English-language texts, Rituais de Festas Borôro has long been acknowledged as a masterpiece of early ethnographic film in the French and Brazilian literature. Shot in 1916 by a Brazilian army officer, Luiz Thomaz Reis, and released the following year, the principal subject matter of the film is the funeral ceremony of the Bororo, an indigenous people of Central Brazil. This article contrasts this work with other ethnographic films of the period and suggests that it has a strong claim to be considered the first ethnographic documentary in the modern sense of this much-contested term. The article then considers the political circumstances that led the film to be made in this particular form, its status as an ethnographic account of the Bororo funeral and its place in the personal filmography of Luiz Thomaz Reis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-146
Number of pages42
JournalVisual Anthropology
Volume30
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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