To Find the Baruya Story: An Anthropologist at Work with a New Guinea Tribe

This intriguing film portrays the work of French anthropologist Maurice Godelier among the Baruya – a tribe famous throughout the eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea as salt makers and traders. Dr. Godelier, one of modern anthropology’s most prominent figures, began living among and studying the Baruya people in 1967.

This multi-faceted film, photographed in both 1969 and 1982, illustrates an anthropologist’s actual fieldwork methods and personal relationships among the Baruya, and provides an in-depth view of the Baruya’s traditional salt-based economic system. The film follows Dr. Godelier in his attempt to understand the complexities of Baruya culture. He comments, “I have to find and bring together the different pieces of Baruya culture… That’s my job, to the find the story.”

Produced by Allison & Marek Jablonko & Stephen Olsson

Press Reviews

“An excellent film which successfully combines a view of a prominent anthropologist at work with vivid accounts of the people whom he is studying. Rarely have I seen so much information packed into a single film. I recommend it highly.” Dr. Roy Rappaport, University of Michigan

“After two decades of that hybrid document known as the 'Anthropological film’ this new film transcends the old documentary versus art and anthropologist vs. filmmaker problems. This new and refreshing form has emerged from a network of people. This is, in my opinion, the first document which gives the viewer the opportunity to see his own film.” Dr Paul Byers, Teacher’s College, Columbia University

“To Find the Baruya Story is an effective generator of discussion, and a valuable classroom resource, providing students with vivid examples of the pleasures as well as some of the techniques and dilemmas of the anthropological enterprise. The filmmakers succeed in presenting a wealth of anthropological information in a format that engages the interest of both beginning and advanced students.” - Dr. Nina Swidler, Fordham University

“Beautifully filmed and edited! Such films of fieldwork are so unusual that when they come along it is not surprising to hear cheers from anthropologists confronted daily with the task of teaching about the discipline. TO FIND THE BARUYA STORY is truly a valuable work.” Dr. Malcolm Arth, Curator of Education, American Museum of Natural History

“Few films show us the way an anthropologist works in the field, how he relates to the people he is studying, and what kinds of data he is seeking. This film does so beautifully.” Timothy, Asch, USC

“An excellent anthropological film of a new variety. The filmmakers have avoided giving an over pedantic impression while keeping anthropological methodology in sharp focus.” Dr. Gordon Gibson, The Smithsonian Institute

“This is a remarkable film and a great achievement! Of particular interest are the anthropologist’s fieldwork methods and personal style in working with informants. At the same time the film presents a great deal of Baruya ethnography. Especially illuminating are the sequences on salt technology and trade, in addition to the striking sequences on Baruya acculturation. The commentary successfully integrates the visual material and makes this film an important pedagogical tool.” - Dr. Asen Balikci, London School of Economics


  • Cine Golden Eagle Award: The Council on International Nontheatrical Events
  • Bronze Cindy Award: Information Film Producer of America

More Information

The DVD is available for purchase from Documentary Educational Resources (DER).