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Yanomami: From Machetes to Mobile Phones (2013)


The Yanomami Indians, living in the Amazon jungle crossing Venezuela and Brazil, are one of the last large relatively unacculturated indigenous groups left in the world. Increasing contacts with the outside world, especially over the last 50 years, have dramatically impacted the Yanomami way of life.


In November 2000, just before the Venezuelan government closed protected Yanomami lands to outsiders, filmmakers Cliff Orloff and Olga Shalygin documented the lives of a small group of Yanomami Indians living along the banks of the Siapa and Casiquiare Rivers.


Ten years later the filmmakers return to that same village to document the changes they observe. Through Macarino, who they first met as a small child 10 years earlier, they gain access to the daily lives of these families. Now a young man and son of the village headman, Macarino is our guide into the ways of this group of Yanomami today.


As the outside world encroaches more and more into Yanomami lands, the tension between these two worlds is revealed. The desire to retain their customs and traditions becomes difficult to reconcile with their attraction to the material goods available in the modern world.


The Yanomami are one of man's last links to our ancient, semi-nomadic, hunter-gatherer history. When the Yanomami are integrated into modern society, the world will lose a rich cultural tradition originating with our earliest ancestors.

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