Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Todd Holland directed this Charlie Peters adaptation of Frank Parkin's novel. Respected anthropologist James Krippendorf (Richard Dreyfuss) and his wife, Jennifer (Barbara Williams), bring their three children along during their failed search in New Guinea for a lost tribe. After Jennifer's death, James reaches a zero point back in the U.S., having spent all his foundation grant money raising the kids as a single parent. Scheduled to lecture at a college and fearful he could be charged with misuse of grant funds, James concocts an imaginary tribe, the Shelmikedmu, and fakes a 16 mm "documentary" film, casting his children as tribe members and editing in footage of a legit New Guinea tribe. Anthropologist Veronica Micelli (Jenna Elfman) contacts cable-TV producer Henry Spivey (David Ogden Stiers), forcing James to continue creating fraudulent footage as the rival Ruth Allen (Lily Tomlin) gets suspicious. It seems a shame this racially insensitive film was made, while the once-announced plans to film anthropologist Kenneth Good's nonfiction Into the Heart (Simon & Schuster, 1991) never led to a production.
con/scam, anthropology, fraud, tribe, native, embezzlement, home-video, death