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DEAD BIRDS

USA, 1964 (MIFF 1964)

Director: Robert Gardner

Dead Birds is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem, high in the moun­tains of Western New Guinea. The Dani have a classic Neolithic culture, being agriculturist practising animal domestication, and utilizing polished tools. They are exceptional in having focussed their energies, ami based their values on an elaborate system of intertribal war- fare and revenge. Neighbouring Dani clans, separated by uncultivated strips of no man's land, engage in frequent formal battles and are constantly on guard against their enemies' less frequent, but more dangerous, raiding parties. When a warrior is killed or when a woman or child loses its life in a raid, the victors celebrate and the victims plan revenge. Each death must be avenged. There is no thought in the Dani world of wars ever ending — without them there would he no way to satisfy the ghosts of the dead.

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