Revista ZUM 12

The struggle of the indigenous film

Vincent Carelli, Fabiana Moraes & Ana Carvalho Publicado em: 30 de June de 2017
Capitão Krohokrenhum encena a guerra no filme Adeus, capitão! Povo Gavião Parkatêjê. Imagens de Raimundo Gavião.

Created thirty years ago, the project Vídeo nas Aldeias has instigated a small revolution in the way it has helped Brazil’s indigenous population to look at their lives and surroundings with a camera, something which historically has been the role of outsiders. The project was started by French-Brazilian Vincent Carelli and began at an NGO, Centro de Trabalho Indigenista [indigenous labor center], which gave the first educational workshop at the Xavante de Sangradouro village in Mato Grosso, twenty years ago. Known by the nickname “Alemão” [“German”, frequently used in Brazil for European-looking people] in the streets of Vila Mariana [a district in the city of São Paulo], Carelli was born in Paris and moved to Brazil when he was 5. A photograph dating from 1959 shows 6-year-old Carelli playing with a bow and arrow. The weapon used in combat would be substituted later by another one, also used in war: the camera.

When he was 16, Carelli travelled to the south of Pará with friar José, a Dominican who was in touch with indigenous peoples. Their first visit was to the Xikrin-Kayapó tribe. He returned from the trip determined to produce images that challenged the clichés associated with indigenous peoples, such as the stereotyped view of purity and passivity. He joined up with other talented outsiders, such as Tatiana Almeida (“Tita”) and Ernesto Carvalho, co-directors of the award-winning documentary Martírio (2016), along with Ana Carvalho. Together they are the team of Vídeo nas Aldeias, which produces and promotes films made by the indigenous peoples themselves, as well as housing a significant collection of documentaries, reports, and records of the everyday lives of many indigenous peoples in Brazil.

Corrida de toras em Eu já fui seu irmão (1993). Povo Gavião Parkatêjê. Imagens e direção de Vincent Carelli.

Thirty years ago, the video camera was hardly known in the indigenous villages. Now it is very popular. How has this change been reflected in the work of Vídeo nas Aldeias?

Vincent Carelli: Not just the video camera – TV had also not arrived in the villages. Then came the satellite dish, the VHS, the internet, the cell phone, YouTube and social networks. Nowadays, indigenous peoples are taking and posting images from all corners of Brazil. The work produced by the indigenous population which we encouraged was a tremendous inspiration to many peoples, stimulating an interest that would have come naturally with time.

Although they all now have access to the equipment needed to produce images, it is still necessary to encourage the production of cinematographic narratives. It is wonderful how the indigenous population, both old and young, have become so interested in video. When we move away from these reactionary times, it will be essential to establish a public policy to encourage indigenous cinema. In this communication-centered civilization, minorities need to maintain space in the national imagination; it is a survival strategy.

Has receptivity for the project changed over the years?

VC: We haven’t been very often to many new groups. The Vídeo nas Aldeias film training school is practically inactive because we do not have the funding. The situation is so critical that we will close the project’s headquarters [an old house at Rua de São Francisco, in Olinda, Pernambuco State]. The workshop is expensive because we donate equipment to the indigenous participants so they can build on their training process. But they are still euphoric when they see the results of their work. I think that the reaction is the same now as it was thirty years ago, when I started this work. They soon take charge, they know what they want. When other groups watch the videos, they become interested in showing their lives as well: the first reaction is always that they want to “show who we are,” and that is what interests us.

You once said that the visit you made to the Xikrin-Kayapó village in Pará when you were a teenager was an existential adventure. When did this adventure become political  as  well?

VC: When I decided to live alone with a small and isolated tribe. I started handling emergencies, and became a nurse at 18. There were epidemics and I was the only one who could do the job. When you live amongst them, you discover that you have a role, a job, which can help them. You occupy a very specific position in the relationship.

Does Vídeo nas Aldeias still work in the same way it did thirty years ago, when the images were taken almost exclusively by the indigenous participants and you helped with the editing?

Ana Carvalho: Over these thirty years, Vídeo nas Aldeias has developed its own approach, which is not exactly a method, more a principle. There is no specific indigenous approach to making films; but there is a set of attitudes and practices that guide the filming. They are the experiences which produce different results in relation to the peoples and their films, and which reveal ways of seeing, being and surviving in the world.

Back in 1986, in the first experiences, it was just Vincent with a camera at the service of the native Brazilians; it was not possible to give the villages cameras, microphones and editing desks of their own. The camera, guided by the needs and vision of the indigenous peoples themselves, was the start of a cinema that was born from the collaboration between white people and the indigenous peoples, appropriating a non-indigenous technology to build an indigenous cinema.

The training process is long and immersive as we help them build their work in loco. But in the field, it is just them, the camera, and their characters, spaces and issues. They film and, at the end of the day, we watch the material together.

The production of a film is born from the wish of the community to make films, never from someone outside. The process begins with a twenty to forty-day workshop on filming and production techniques, when the participants film daily. At the end of each day, we review the material they have shot and discuss the aesthetic, ethical and technical points that emerge. The villages are equipped with cameras and editing desks so that the work can continue when we are not there.

Translation and editing workshops are the second phase of the project.  The translation of the dialogues reveals the depth of the material to those who are non-indigenous. It is a collective process, always carried out in an open space, with the whole community watching: it is such a joy. Then we start editing. The first cut is done in the village. The indigenous filmmakers and the community discuss and decide on the script – what will and will not be shown etc. The detailed editing takes place with the participation of the filmmakers, who have followed the process at Vídeo nas Aldeias’ headquarters, where we have the equip- ment needed to complete the film.

Chegada na aldeia em A arca dos Zo’é (1993). Povos Waiãpi e Zo’é. Imagens de Vincent Carelli. Direção de Vincent Carelli e Dominique Gallois.

How does this strategy help these people develop their own vision?

AC: This continuous, collaborative, long train- ing allows specific ownership approaches to emerge during the process. Each group shows themselves in the ways these images are produced. This practical learning process allows different cinematic strategies to appear.

VC: The process helps deconstruct the lan- guage of television, the only one that they are familiar with nowadays, and develops their listening and observation skills, as well as the respect for the proper timing of the indigenous world. But it is also important that they come into contact with other forms, such as video art, animation, and fiction, allowing each of them to find their preferred language and themes. The training begins with a collective approach but, little by little, some stand out and resolve to carry on with producing documentary records and stories, assuming the direction of the work on their own or in partnership.

Which issues arise during the production of the films?

VC: The most present peoples are those with which we have built long-lasting training relationships – the Mbya-Guarani of Rio Grande do Sul, the Ashaninka and Huni Kuin of Acre, and the Xavante and Kuikuro of Mato Grosso. Each people brings their own specific questions. The Guarani look at the spiritual, the Ashaninka at the environment, the Huni Kuin at the world of the Jiboia [boa constrictor] and their song and painting teachings, while the Xavante concern themselves with the important rites of initiation, which are the basis of their society. In the case of the Kuikuro, they also concern themselves with big ceremonies, but now that their filmmaker Takumã has started working independently, he has been looking for new subjects, such as the anthropologists, the missionaries, and the life of his family in the city.

In general terms, it is not abstract filmmaking, but one which immerses itself in the everyday life of the peoples, mainly the young people, even though in the villages there is always interaction between the young and the elders. They do not reason in abstract terms: it is necessary to immerse oneself in experience, especially if the goal is to develop a form of direct film, which shows reality without imposing upon it. The first films usually register everyday life, the characters. It is only later that the issues surface. The Ashaninka like to film fiction and initiation ceremonies. As their production matures, religious themes and political disputes appear, and the films become more complex. We have already held workshops in which we tried to impose a theme, but it is difficult to start with the thematic. It is best to let it flow, start from a general idea, “a day in the village,” and see what happens.

Pescaria em A gente luta mas come fruta (2006). Povo Ashaninka. Imagens e direção de Isaac e Wewito Piyãko.

How do Brazilian natives view the concepts of fiction and non-fiction? Do the indigenous cultures have their own visual taboos, such as scenes of sex, birth, sickness, or death are for us?

VC: They learn what fiction is, and some like it even more than the documentary, because they want to depict traditional stories. There are taboos, which vary from one people to another, mainly protecting knowledge of areas that are considered restricted. Some do not allow the filming of shamanic rituals, but in Xingu there are no restrictions regarding this. For others, the image is taboo, but that changes with time and as they interact with members of a society where the image is important.

Do you show non-indigenous films at the workshops? How do they react?

AC: We show since classic silent movies, such as Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton, to some important references from modern documentary cinema, such as Jean Rouch and Robert Flaherty. But the main references are films made by other peoples. As the Ashaninka filmmaker Isaac Piyãko once said: “You see the world of others and look at your own.” A fundamental exchange of points of view and perspectives happens during this sharing of images, stories and cosmologies. At the moment, martial arts movies are unbeatable, the kids really enjoy them.

VC: The fascination of the indigenous peoples is to see and get to know other indigenous peoples. It is a need to position themselves in the world, but from the perspective of a native people.

Which aesthetic issues arise during the production of indigenous filmmakers?

AC: The films produced in the workshops show the different uses and functions of the image, revealing the political and aesthetic project of each people. No workshop is the same as another. Their cinematic production is very extensive and highly diverse, revealing uniqueness, struggles, world views, identities and the way in which they appropriate the visual resources.

With the Mbya-Guarani, we see a very special way of expressing the question of spirituality and the duration of time, the territories of transit and borders. With the Maxacali, the camera is a machine to see the invisible, it is a xamanic instrument. They have an intense ritual life, one that is both daily and uninterrupted. For the Maxacali, the camera is a ritual object. Other examples are the Xavante and the Huni Kuin. All their films explore the question of the origin of the world, initiation ceremonies, the passing on of knowledge, always in the present time.

These latent questions emerge during the workshops, they are not predetermined. It is evident that there are various uses and functions of the image; that each group, when selecting their themes and aesthetics, expresses a certain belief in the images, either as an element of transformation of their experience in the world, as militant cinema, or as a way of contact with the invisible, with the world of dreams, of the spirits, of time, of the person, the word. This is what happens among the Guarani, for example.

VC: Dreams are very important for the indigenous peoples, guiding both individual and collective lifes. The refined aesthetic sense of their cultures is apparent in the framing of the images, in their look, but the aesthetic is never considered in an abstract way. The director Wewito Piyãko, for example, is a great designer, his framing of the images is classic. One of his most amazing films is Bicicletas de Nhanderu [the bicycles of Nhanderu], which looks at spirituality in the culture of the Mbya-Guarani in the Koenju village in São Miguel das Missões, Rio Grande do Sul. Everything that happens in the village has a spiritual meaning, rain, thunder, or lightning. Tupã [the supreme being in Guarani culture] gets angry about this and that, collects the piece of wood, which is a mandinga [a spell]; children pick fruit in the forest, the old woman blesses them, prays, purifies; the spiritual is always present. This is not taught, it manifests itself.

Inauguração da opy (casa de reza), em Bicicletas de Nhanderu (2011). Povo Mbya-Guarani. Imagens e direção do Coletivo Mbya-Guarani de Cinema.

Do the workshops deal with the formal aspect of filmmaking, such as  framing  the  image?

VC: We look at everything, but only guide: “This is crookedlook at the horizon, only part of the character is visible, there is another in the background,” so that they have some idea of editing. We teach them how to look in the frame, to pay attention and to listen, but the beauty of image framing is that of the filmmaker themselves.

Has the presence of cameras in the villages provoked internal conflict?

VC: It always causes conflict. What we want in our dream of the noble savage is one of an equal, but structured society. The camera belongs to the village, and something which belongs to everyone does not belong to anyone, right? So, who is going to look after it? There is a lot of conflict in the beginning about who wants to be filmed and who doesn’t. There is discrimination – Brazilian natives say to each other: “Are you filming? That is what white people do, you’re not white, you are not competent to do it,” or: “But will you be earning money at my expense?” These are the sort of issues that arise at the beginning, mainly. Then, when the film is shown, they get the idea and everyone wants to participate.

How are the participants in the workshops chosen?

VC: They are appointed. Usually, it is the younger members who are indicated, it is an internal policy. It soon becomes clear who just wants to strut around with the camera, showing off to the girls… they get tired of it quickly, as filming is hard work.

There are few films from the more urbanized peoples, such as those in the northeast. Doesn’t that reinforce an idealized view of the indigenous peoples?

VC: Good question. If you watch the films carefully, you will see that even the most traditional peoples show signs of the contemporary: the fact is that they are on the border between two cultures, in a process of intense transformation. Biculturalism is an irreversible condition, but it does not make them less indigenous. This is a recurring theme in the workshops: the function of the self-portrait is not to match the image that other people expect to see, but to show things as they are.

For the new generation who go to university, the issue of urban indigenous peoples will be a central theme, as it happens today with the films produced by the First Nations in Canada, the Aborigines in Australia and by the Sami in the Nordic countries. In Pernambuco, Vídeo nas Aldeias worked with the Truká of Cabrobó and set up a video center with the Fulni-ô of Águas Belas. We work a lot with the Mbya-Guarani in the south of Brazil and Argentina, with the Guarani Kaiowá in the south of Mato Grosso do Sul and with the Maxacali in the countryside of Minas Gerais. We also work with the Ayoreo in the Paraguayan Chaco and in French Guiana. We go where there is interest on the part of the villages, partners and funding.

O Índio do Buraco em Corumbiara (2009). Imagens e direção de Vincent Carelli.

What are the fundamental differences between indigenous and non-indigenous production?

VC: The fundamental difference is that the indigenous filmmakers know their universe and the language of their people, in addition to having a personal relationship with the characters they are filming. Even in tribes which are now bilingual, most of the older people are only fluent in their own language. The indigenous director discusses their culture with someone who understands what they are talking about.

How have cell phones and social networks transformed the content and form of indigenous production?

VC: The indigenous peoples are fully engaged with social networks. There is a production of images of consumption, which are rapidly shared using WhatsApp or even using Bluetooth, in case where there is no internet or cell phone signal.

AC: The exchange of images between the villages is intense. They are short productions, usually sequences of raw or roughly edited material. The young people are connected, both in social networks and off-line. Everything is accessed, shared and erased with stunning speed: dances, traditional songs, hit music, photos, short videos. This exchange creates networks, arouses interest and reflections, reveals the contradictions and important transformations in progress. The resulting production is also an instrument of guerrilla and resistance. A cell phone in the hand at the time of a violent attack or invasion of a community is an important way to tell the world about what is happening, and of defense. There are actually a lot of videos which are taken and then posted on the social networks which show emergencies and lead to the immediate and necessary mobilization of help to defend their territory, rights, and lives.

Using a hidden camera is the strategy adopted in Corumbiara, for example. Is this resource taught as an strategy in Vídeo nas Aldeias?

VC: I used this feature exclusively on Corumbiara and was uncomfortable about it. It was an extreme case, where we were producing evidence of genocide in a situation where we were being watched by the tormentors. I wouldn’t do it again and we don’t teach our students to do it, quite the opposite. In the beginning, we avoid having them use the zoom lens to “steal” images. We try to get them to approach their characters and build a relationship with them.

Invasão da Câmara dos Deputados pelo Movimento Nacional Indígena em Martírio (2016). Imagens de Kamikiã Kisêdjê. Direção de Vincent Carelli, codireção de Ernesto Carvalho e Tita.

What is videotranse?

VC: It is when those being filmed are aware of it. This is the experience itself, which is to film and show. To show that filming was being done there at that exact time, that the image production was possible and it was at hand. This creates a synergy between the person who is filming and who is being filmed. Then, as with the radical move of photography to cinema, I stop at videotranse. Nowadays, with TV, everyone is conscious of the image, but before it was not so. In this experience, there is this interaction, the camera causes it, it is thought-provoking. This is when the representation game starts.

Showing images of an isolated people can be liberating when it helps individuals or groups start to exist to the public, or it can be a form of violence, as in the discussion that arose when Ricardo Stuckert flew over and took photographs of a remote indigenous village in 2016, which was criticized by the National Indian Foundation (Funai). How can we deal with this ambiguity?

VC:  The contradiction  arises  mainly  in the case of images of isolated groups – making the images public liberates whom? The images of Índio do Buraco [the indigenous man in the hole] in Corumbiara, the solitary isolated native we found when we were filming, helped the courts become aware of him and reserve an area for him to live. But he never heard of that and did not want any contact. The example of the photos taken by Stuckert is similar. Even when they are necessary, images do not stop being aggressive. In Corumbiara, a single take was necessary to document his existence, but when we realized that our presence made him change location, we began to monitor him remotely. It is necessary to limit this aggression so that it can fulfill its role in the politics of recognition of isolated peoples and then safeguard them until they are able to understand the situation.

As with the filmmaker Andrea Tonacci (1944- 2016), the specialist on indigenous matters Marcelo dos Santos and the frontiersman Altair Algayer (the “Alemão” [“German”] in Corumbiara), you are a white man, of European origin, heavily involved in Brazilian indigenous issues. How does this affect your work? Do people question you about it?

VC: I have established the place from where I speak about this over a lifetime. Even so, those who do not know my work may find it odd. The heads of non-indigenous people are full of fictional ideas of the “indigenous person” – the noble savage, the purity of soul and race, the isolation. Indigenous peoples are none of that. They are people who have always incorporated aspects of other cultures with which they have had peaceful or warlike contact. In the case of Martírio, which looks at the clash of two civilizations, it was necessary to show the two sides. But it is not necessary to be Manichean – there are indigenous individuals who are alienated and there are non-indigenous individuals who are in sympathy with the cause of the indigenous peoples. Martírio is not a film about the problems of the Kaiowá, but about the issues faced by all Brazilian society. I represent that part of society that is uncomfortable about the abuse of the indigenous peoples.

The persistent marginalized condition of indigenous peoples we see in Martírio leads to an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. We see the enslaved native Brazilians working on tea plantations; decades later, they are living by the roadside, taking care not to be killed and trying to find a corner to live. How do you maintain your resolve with this cruel repetition?

VC: Martírio was an outburst, and the outburst became an obsession, a revolt, it is visceral. They were three or four very difficult years. The first stage of the filming was with a couple who had worked for thirty years with the Guarani Kaiowá. It was a tough time, there were threats. For the second stage, only I and Ernesto (Carvalho) went. It was no longer that heavy atmosphere, but everything had to be done very quickly. We could not eat in the same place twice, for example.

When I returned, I had driven seven thousand kilometers in three weeks. I had a breakdown, I almost died. I internalized the tension, it became somatic. When I woke up in the ICU, I cried desperately and could only think of the film, I could not die before finishing it.

Doing this kind of cinema is a retaliation. You work for years, fight for land demarcation, but it is one defeat after another, and you have to learn to put it behind you. In Corumbiara nothing went right – no one was arrested – but at least those who watch the film can share this shame and heavy conscience.

Festa do gavião em Quando os Yãmîy vêm dançar conosco (2011). Povo Maxakali. Imagens de Isael Maxakali. Direção de Renata Otto Diniz e Isael Maxakali.

There is a scene in Wim Wender and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s The Salt of the Earth (2014) where we see a photo by Sebastião Salgado in the Andes, accompanied by an indigenous native peasant. The photographer  reports  that  this man once said that he, Sebastião, was heaven-sent, a sort of God. This self-praise in the film caught my eye. You said that the native Brazilians like you, welcome you, are affectionate  to you, place you on some kind of a pedestal. How do we escape from this hero worshipping?

VC: This depends on the size of your ego. I have learned some things in life. All civilizations collapse someday, and I think ours is heading in that direction. It is hard to say that when you have grandchildren. There is hope, but idiocy reigns; we are far from any real awareness of the trouble we’re in.

I had a difficult relationship with Sebastião Salgado. I met him in Kuikuro, in the Xingu reserve. I was giving a workshop, and he was photographing. He asked the natives to take off their sandals and their shorts so that, according to him, he could reconstruct a time in the past. For me it’s the opposite, I prefer them as they are. We went to bathe in a pond, a beautiful place. “Do you think the indigenous peoples are aware that they live in a paradise?” he asked. I replied that, to me, every people is like those in Lars von Trier’s movie Dogville (2003), in which a seemingly peaceful and compassionate community is revealed to be precisely the opposite. He was shocked. I think I demolished his paradise (laughs).

Which indigenous filmmakers stand out today?

VC: There are a number of indigenous directors who are either pursuing a solo career, or who have started on their own initiative: Alberto Alvares Guarani, the Maxacali Isael and Suely, who have their own language, Takumã Kuikuro, who went to the Darcy Ribeiro Film School in Rio de Janeiro after working with us, and probably many others I do not know. The first workshops with new peoples also produce very interesting works, made by people very eager to make films, with a lot of creative freedom.

AC: I should also mention Morzaniel Yanomami, who develops the ritual issue with his people, and the emerging Kaiowá film work – the collective’s first film shows the strength of their political and spiritual resistance. I also find it important to mention the work of Kamikiã Kisêdjê, who was trained in Vídeo nas Aldeias workshops and who has built a very personal career as an indigenous reporter. Kami is a kind of ninja reporter. He has a webchannel and covers the national indigenous movement, political demonstrations and also the issues involving his and other indigenous peoples of Brazil. Like Takumã Kuikuro and Divino Tserewahú, Kamikiã has become a reference for many groups and new filmmakers, a multiplier who has been asked many times to participate in the production workshops of his relatives.

VC: There are also a lot of people making films without any idea of what is involved. Our concern is to understand this new moment and invest in training. In a way, I think our time as leaders of the process has passed. Things are going ahead without us. Many people want to collaborate with the indigenous peoples in order to make their own film – researchers who want an indigenous filmmaker to document their research. It is pretty mixed. We are waiting for the results, to see what works emerge from this cycle.

Festa da onça em Mulheres Xavante sem nome (2009). Imagens de Vincent Carelli. Direção de Tiago Campos Torres e Divino Tserewahú.

Has this production changed your filmmaking?

VC: Nowadays we make a lot of films in partnership with people we have trained, partly because there is no more funding to train new ones. We combine our experience with the intimacy of the indigenous filmmaker with their people. I have just finished directing an episode of a TV series in partnership with Wewito Piyãko, a filmmaker of the Ashaninka. It was 100% observational, five days in the life of a family in their ranch, very much in the spirit of the films made in the workshops. I learned to use this approach teaching.

Does Vídeo nas Aldeias also work with photography?

AC: There are some peoples which are involved in photography, but these are isolated initiatives. The native peoples seem to prefer to work with moving images. However, with access to mobile phones, the increase in photography is notable, especially for vernacular and everyday use, something which is not unique to the indigenous peoples.

This year we had our first experience on photography training and production with the Mbya-Guarani. We spent a month between Brazil and Argentina just photographing, using different formats and media. The core of the program was the exchange of polaroids between villages and relatives who had not seen each other for a long time. They were single images or ones developed immediately that became rare and precious objects to be kept in a notebook, glued on the wall or displayed carefully in a corner of the house. Photographs of the family, of domestic places, of home life, of travel, of cultivation.

There was also a concern with producing images that showed this overlap, the conflict between traditional landscapes and the relentless advance of soybean monoculture, with narratives that derive from these spaces and these times. We are now looking at these images and thinking about possible ways and relationships for the way we do our films. But it’s still a very specific and experimental work.

What is the situation of the Vídeo nas Aldeias today?

VC: Vídeo nas Aldeias is getting smaller so that it does not disappear. The film school, which was our most original contribution, is almost stopped for lack of funding. But we keep producing films in partnership with the filmmakers we have trained over the last two decades. Last year, we launched O mestre e o divino [the master and the divine] (Tiago Campos Torres, 2013) in the cinemas, and this  year it will be Martírio.

AC: Another important point is our image archive. Over its thirty years of existence, Vídeo nas Aldeias has built a collection of 8,000 hours of material on fifty indigenous peoples from all the regions of Brazil and seventy finished films. This makes it the largest and most important image collection of the indigenous peoples of Brazil. In a small air-conditioned little room in our headquarters we preserve an incredibly rich material of inestimable cultural and historical value to the peoples it portrays. It is a new body of audiovisual thinking, which offers the possibility of building an alternative narrative of the history of the native peoples of Brazil. These records date back to the origins of the project in 1986, from the first experiences using the camera as a political tool and for the exchange of images between the people portrayed, to the training of indigenous filmmakers and the current collaborative productions.

Given the importance of this collection and its vulnerability, it is urgent to start digitalizing and preserving it. Our desire is to ensure that not only the collection is restored and preserved over the short to medium term but, above all, to ensure that the portrayed peoples have access to it and can get the images back. That is, as well as continuing with the film school and productions made in partnership with the indigenous collectives and filmmakers, nowadays we are seeking alternative financing to scan the entire collection and even pass it on to other institutions involved in its preservation.

How do you see the future of Vídeo nas Aldeias?

AC: In 2015, we were invited by Ancine [the Brazilian film agency] to propose a public policy on indigenous cinema. We spent a year on this project, which we called Olhares Indígenas [through Indigenous eyes]. The dream ended with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, the dismantling of the Ministry of Culture and the suspension of many of the projects which had been approved. In 2015, an important liaison was established with the film festival Olhar: um ato de resistência [to look: an act of resistance], curated by Andrea Tonacci, in partnership with Filmes de Quintal. The festival brought together a number of collectives and filmmakers from Brazil, Latin America, and the United States. It was in this context that we presented and discussed for the first time our work with indigenous filmmakers. Following that encounter, on the side, when it is possible to meet, through word of mouth, we are slowly taking forward this fundamental work of mobilizing, documenting and bringing together the diverse and intense cinematographic work of indigenous peoples. ///

Dança em Kiarãsâ Yõ Sâty, o amendoim da cutia (2005). Povo Panará. Imagens e direção de Paturi e Komoi Panará.

 Kamikiã Kisêdjê, filmmaker

When he was a child, Kamikiã Kisêdjê (the surname comes from the people to which he belongs) used to play with a camera made from an old milk can and a bone, snapping away in the Ngôsoko village, in Mato Grosso, where he still lives. More than twenty years later, Kamikiã is one of the most prolific Brazilian indigenous filmmakers, a kind of film journalist who records events such as meetings, celebrations, and other indigenous cultural and political manifestations. One of his best known productions was made in April 2013 during the occupation of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasília, during the protest that helped stop the vote on the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution No. 215, which changed the demarcation process of indigenous and quilombolas peoples’ lands.

His greater intimacy with recording images began in 2003, when the Vídeo nas Aldeias team held a workshop in the area. Kamikiã already knew the films made by indigenous filmmakers with the support of Vídeo nas Aldeias, especially the praised documentary Shomõtsi (2001), by Wewito Piyãko, also known as Valdete Pinhanta, a teacher in the Apiwtxa village in Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre. “With him I learned to make various shots of the village and film the events surrounding the scenes.”

For the filmmaker, the difference between the indigenous and non-indigenous look lies in this plurality. “Their vision is wide, we realize what is behind the scenes, we see many different shots, the roosters, the parrots, the animals that are endangered in the middle of the village, children playing. The television crews that come to the village only show one aspect. I also admire many non-indigenous filmmakers, such as Todd Southgate, André Vilela D’Elia, Fábio Nascimento and Vincent Carelli.” Kamikiã has no doubt that his camera is an instrument of resistance and a beacon: his work is focused on the protection of the environment, on education, health and culture. “I travel a lot because of my work, making films for several indigenous peoples of Brazil,” he says. He is a member of the Associação Terra Indígena Xingu [Xingu Indigenous Land Association] and uploads his videos to his YouTube channel. Kamikiã carries out this necessary and brave work, and still works in the fields with his parents, who also dedicate themselves to doing handicrafts. “When some are taken aback because I film, I answer that I am no less a native Brazilian because of it. Quite the opposite. We use technology as a weapon in political struggles.” ///