At the Threshold

At the Threshold
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The Shock of the Other
Host David Maybury-Lewis revisits the Xavante of Brazil to see how they have changed since 1959, and then journeys into the Peruvian Amazon to unravel the mystery of the Mashco-Piro, a tribe that has chosen to remain hidden from the outside world. Only by understanding "the Other" can we get…
The Art of Living
Why do we separate art and living? In tribal societies, where there are no words for "art" or "artist", everyday life is an occasion for creative expression. Follow a Wodaabe woman from Niger as she judges a festival of beauty and grace; a Dogon man from Mali celebrating at a…
An Ecology of Mind
While tribal cultures seek harmony with nature, Western societies try to dominate it, often with devasting consequences. Visit the Gabra of Kenya whose relationship to their harsh desert environment is key to their survival; the Makuna of Colombia whose complex myths and rituals reveal a highly sophisticated ecological awareness; and…
Inventing Reality
Every society has a system of knowledge, a way to describe reality that we call either science or magic - and sometimes both. Who will stop a fatal epidemic sweeping the villages of the Huichol Indians of Mexico - the medical doctor or the shaman? Can a terminal cancer patient…
Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World
The Western world's desire to remake other societies into its own image has robbed our modern world of the gifts of other cultures. By exploring the values and different worldviews that hold many tribal societies together, this series reflects on what the modern world can learn from tribal societies as…
Early Americas: Resources and Olmecs
Shift your attention to North and South America. These were among the last regions humans would settle, and you follow their progress from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the civilizations that would be defined by geography and available resources, beginning with the Olmecs of what is now Mexico.
Pots and Pyramids: Moche and Teotihuacán
Turn your focus to Peru and Mexico and the many cultures that left behind stunning examples of their now-vanished civilizations, from impressive pyramids and tombs to startling examples of artistic pottery, especially those produced by the Moche.
Blood and Corn: Mayan Civilization
Delve into the achievements of the Maya, who were among the longest-lasting, most geographically extensive, and most culturally sophisticated of all Mesoamerican cultures. Grasp how we can know these things only because the Maya left behind what those other peoples did not: the records of a culture with a written…
Brujo (Shaman)
Brujo is an exploration of shamanism and curing among the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico, and among two groups of Maya Indians in southern Mexico and Guatemala. The film is divided into three sequences. The first, filmed in Chichicastenango (Guatemala), shows Diego, a shaman, cure a woman on whom a…
Yvy Maraey, Land Without Evil - Yvy Maraey, Tierra Sin Mal
A Bolivian filmmaker and a Guarani Indian travel together through the forests of southeastern Bolivia to make a film about the Guarani people. The starting point is a 1911 film by Swedish explorer Erland Nordenskiold. But today's reality turns out to be much more intense than the nostalgia for a…
From Honey to Ashes
In March 2004, one of the world's last voluntarily isolated groups of hunter-gatherers walked out of the forest in northern Paraguay, fleeing ranchers' bulldozers. They formed a new village with their more settled relatives, where they confronted the complexities of learning how to become "Ayoreo Indians" and more critically, how…
Myth of Naro as Told by Dedeheiwa
Part of the Series: Yanomamo Collection
This film presents a version of a myth, different from the Myth of Naro as Told by Kaobawa, in narrative detail and also in the individual raconteur's style. The myth concerns the jealousy of Naro the Ugly toward his brother Yanomamo, who is fragrant and beautiful and has two wives.…