Savage Memory

In 1915, Bronislaw Malinowski set out to document the ‘exotic’ practices of a small group of islanders off the coast of Papua New Guinea. With extensive data on sex, magic and spirits of the dead, his work would set the stage for anthropologists for decades to come and bring him fame as one of the founding fathers of anthropology. Four generations and almost one hundred years later, his great grandson sets out to Papua New Guinea to piece together the story of this legendary figure and to unravel the controversial legacy he left behind – within the field of anthropology, within his own family and among the descendants of the people he studied in New Guinea. An exploration of history, memory and legacy, Savage Memory asks viewers to question how we remember our dead.

Region of Origin


Year of Release



75 minutes


DV, 16 mm, Color


Kelly Thomson Thumbnail

Kelly Thomson

Kelly Thomson, Director, is currently co-producing two PBS documentaries – Denial: An American Dilemma, which uses Gunnar Myrdal’s landmark 1940s study of Jim Crow America to investigate contemporary race relations in America and The Raising of America on child development. She was Co-Producer/Editor for Gaining Ground: Building Community on Dudley Street; Associate Producer for the four-part series, Unnatural Causes (winner of the DuPont/Columbia Award); and Associate Producer for the one-hour documentary, Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (winner Best Documentary, Hollywood Black Film Festival). Kelly has worked on a number of independent films over the past ten years including Wild Art, All Falls Down, and Funeral of the Last Gypsy King.

Zachary Stuart Thumbnail

Zachary Stuart

Zachary Stuart, Director, was trained as a documentary filmmaker at Harvard’s program in Visual and Environmental Studies. His first film This is Just This uses experimental sound and 16mm film to explore a first-person experience of North India. He produced and directed a documentary short on an ex-prisoner storytelling project Public Voices. He has worked on a number of interdisciplinary video and film projects including dancer Hana Van der Kolk’s memorial dance piece For Them, cinematography for the film Occupation and Faith Soloway’s Rock Operas Jesus Has Two Mommies and Miss Folk America. He has traveled to Israel to document an ecumenical Palestinian Pilgrimage which included interviews with Yasser Arafat.