Guide to Comisario Faustino, 1979

Collection ID:
Billipp, Jim
Physical Description:
1 Videocassettes (U-matic)
29 minutes
color sound

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Edited video focuses on Comisario Faustino and his family, Arhuaco (Ica) peoples, who live in on Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. The losely woven story depicts the life of a comisario, Faustino, who is, in effect, an unpaid constable appointed by the Colombian government. Shown is the mountainous terrain, agriculture as practiced separately by men and women; food preparation; homestead with women and children's activities; Faustino setting up the loom to weave (a man's activity); visiting his father, a local well-respected "priest;" and investigation of a murder; and burial of the murdered victim. The murdered person is Faustino's niece, a member of the Villafana clan. Her boyfriend, Antonio, admits to the killing. Faustino decides the course of action for punishment. At the funeral, narration states that according to custom the murderer must prepare the burial site and the body for burial. Antonio wraps the body in ferns and prepares the grave where the body is interred sitting up. A cord which is wrapped around the body comes up through the grave where it is wound around a short pole above the grave. Narration states that it is believed that when the cord rots, the soul is released. Antonio is sent away for a formal trial. The family appeals to Faustino for immediate retribution against the boyfriend but they are unsuccessful.
Billipp was assisted by Bob Harris, who operated one of the cameras and carried out some of the editing.
Legacy Keywords: Language and culture ; Weaving ; Looms ; Criminal justice, Administration of ; Crime ; Murder ; Clans ; Mountains Colombia ; Funeral rites and ceremonies ; Burial ; Subsistence farming ; Clothing and dress
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or Anthropology Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transferred by the National Anthropological Archives in 2010. Originally the video tape was given to William Crocker, Department of Anthropology curator, by Jim Billipp, director and producer of the film. Dr. Crocker solicited materials from Billipp for depositing in the National Anthropological Archives.

Local Number
Local Number
HSFA 2010.5.1

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Preferred Citation
Comisario Faustino, Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Related Materials
The National Anthropological Archives holds Billipp's photographs and notes on the Ica.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
South America Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Colombia Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ika (Ica/Arhuaco) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Human Studies Film Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland 20746