The ethnographer of the title is John Hillary Palmer, a softly spoken, crisply refined Englishman who for the past three decades has been studying the Wichi, an indigenous community in the north of Argentina. The compelling subject of Ulises Rosell’s exquisitely crafted documentary, Palmer is no objective observer: married to a Wichi woman, he advocates on behalf of this marginalised people, and it’s through his eyes that the struggles of the Wichi are movingly revealed (although he remains in touch with life back in England through dryly humorous phone conversations to his elderly mother). Like Palmer himself, this documentary approaches its study of tribal life with sympathetic respect and watchful patience. The result is a work of quiet sophistication.
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