Ngat is Dead - Studying Mortuary Traditions

Christian Suhr
Ton Otto
Steffen Dalsgaard
59 minutes


What do anthropologists mean when they claim to study the cultural traditions of others by participating in them?This film follows the Dutch anthropologist Ton Otto, who has been adopted by a family on Baluan Island in Papua New Guinea. Due to the death of his adoptive father, he has to take part in mortuary ceremonies, whose form and content are passionately contested by different groups of relatives.Through prolonged negotiations, Ton learns how Baluan people perform and transform their traditions and not least what role he plays himself. The film is part of long-term field research, in which filmmaking has become integrated in the ongoing dialogue and exchange between the islanders and the anthropologist.