FILM: Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer
In 1955, while a Fulbright scholar, a Manhattan painter named Tobias Schneebaum spent seven months in the Amazon basin with the Harakambut. When he returned to the US, he could no longer paint. What happened? Nearly 45 years later, filmmakers want Tobias, now 78 and suffering from Parkinson’s, to return to Peru & New Guinea.
This documentary is an adventure. It will whisk you away to far away lands and answer cannibalistic curiosity. Tobias’ story is exciting and nostalgic. It’s infused with primitive culture and extremes but it’s just plain humanity that shines through.
Tobias is a wonderful painter, explorer, and anthropologist. My heart was touched when Tobias re-unites with his ex-Lover who he thought had passed. I appreciated Tobias’ interview candor. He speaks from an acceptance of dying and with an open mind . Tobias had the opportunity to explore many cultures before they were severely influenced by Western Culture. I envy that.
Through out the documentary – Tobias expresses a mental battle regarding returning to the jungle in Peru where he witness and participated in murder and cannibalism. In fact – I was so distracted by the story – I hardly noticed the constant soft focus and poor framing. I just wasn’t impressed with the camerawork from any angle. I guess that just goes to show that the most important thing is putting the story to tape and not fretting over “what you are shooting on”.
I really enjoyed the journey – being exposed to traditions passed down through generations. The tribes display their dancing, sculpting, their sexuality and language. I like that this documentary will keep some of these traditions “alive”.
AND Don’t worry – you won’t fall asleep for this adventure. But, you may think about death, watching National Geographic, and taking a holiday to a far away land.
4 out of 5 Cheers