racechanging: Krippendorf’s Tribe

Krippendorf’s Tribe

Anthropology professor James Krippendorf lapses into apathy and depression after his wife dies. His tenure threatened, he gives a lecture about the ‘Shelmikedmu’ tribe, who he claims to have been the last undiscovered tribe of New Guinea – until he discovered them. When his coup is challenged, he has to produce proof, which is a tad difficult as he invented the tribe naming them after his children– Shelly (Natasha Lyonne), Mike, and Edmund.

He gets in deeper and deeper, creating and filming a fake tribal village in his backyard, using his children and an initially unwitting co-worker as the cast.

The premise of spoofing academic pretensions – rather than New Guinea tribespeople – probably seemed okay but the result is a mess of unfunny bad taste and dubious morality. The only funny moment that I recall is when Shelly tells her father: ‘I just chased poultry through my backyard, looking like Tammy Faye Bakker. You owe me!’

The makeup

David LeRoy Anderson (AFX Studio) was responsible for the special tribal makeup.