DEMARCATING SCREEN SPACE: COSMOPOLITICAL TECHNOLOGIES AT VÍDEO NAS ALDEIAS by Sarah Shamash B.A., The University of British Columbia, 2000 MA., Université de Vincennes-Saint-Denis (Paris VIII), 2005 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Interdisciplinary Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) October 2019 © Sarah Shamash, 2019 ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: Demarcating Screen Space: Cosmopolitical Technologies at Vídeo nas Aldeias submitted by Sarah Shamash in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies Examining Committee: Alessandra Santos (FHIS) Co-supervisor Brian McIlroy (Theatre & Film) Co-supervisor Gabriela Aceves Sepulveda (SIAT-SFU) Supervisory Committee Member Denise Ferreira da Silva University Examiner Derek Gladwin University Examiner Additional Supervisory Committee Members: Dana Claxton (AHVA) Supervisory Committee Member iii Abstract In this case study of the organization and film and video archive known as Vídeo nas Aldeias (Video in the Villages or VNA), founded in 1986 by Vincent Carelli, I develop an argument for VNA as a critical filmic archive worthy of study and safeguarding. Crucially, I examine VNA as a producer of knowledge through an interdisciplinary framework. Its collection comprises over ninety films on and by Indigenous peoples, representing over forty Indigenous nations across Brazil. As a practicing media artist and filmmaker, I apply an interdisciplinary framework to develop philosophical arguments and film analyses to conceptualizing VNA’s archive as a pluriversal and anti-colonial technology of knowledge. Over-arching concepts of visual sovereignty, as elaborated by Native American scholars Michelle H. Raheja (Seneca) and Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora Nation), as well as concepts by Laura R. Graham to include representational sovereignty, as theoretical frameworks with which to examine individual films and the archive as a whole, guide my analysis. I use Amalia Córdoba and Juan Salazar’s discussion of “imperfect media” to root my analysis in Latin American theory. I argue that the films are constituent of cosmopolitical processes that can be framed within onto-epistemic oriented cinema; I appraise how the films and the archive have repercussions on and off screen. A key objective of this dissertation is to broaden the field of film studies to include Indigenous cinema, not as an addendum to film studies, but as integral to film history and film culture. I conclude by examining how VNA, by means of its creation of a growing, alternative filmic corpus, is working to invigorate futures for Indigenous peoples and for cinema studies. iv Lay Summary In this case study of the organization and filmic archive known as Vídeo nas aldeias (Video in the Villages or VNA), founded in 1986 by Vincent Carelli, I argue that VNA is one of Latin America’s most significant filmic archives and a critical producer of knowledge. It is comprised of a collection of over ninety films on and by Indigenous peoples that represent over forty Indigenous nations across Brazil. I apply an interdisciplinary framework to examine individual films and VNA as whole. A key objective is to broaden the field of film studies to include Indigenous cinema, not as an addendum to film studies, but as integral to film history and film culture. I develop a film philosophical argument that conceptualizes VNA’s archive as a pluriversal, anti-colonial technology of knowledge. I conclude by examining how VNA is working to invigorate futures for Indigenous peoples and cinema studies. v Preface Sarah Shamash carried out the design of the research program, performance of all parts of the research, analysis of the research data, and all written chapters of this dissertation. This dissertation is an original and previously unpublished work of Sarah Shamash. The following committee members listed below provided guidance and feedback to Sarah Shamash throughought this dissertation research and writing process. University of British of British Columbia Supervisory Committee: Dr. Alessandra Santos Dr. Brian McIlroy Additional committee members, Dr. Gabriela Aceves Sepulveda (SFU), and Dana Claxton, provided feedback during the final draft of the dissertation. Ethical approval for interviews received from: The University of British Columbia, Office of Research Services, Behavioural Research Ethics Board, Certificate Number: H16-01107 Early ideas and notes for “Chapter 4: Spirituality and Geo-Politics in the Films of the Mbya Guarani Cinema Collective” were first published here: Shamash, Sarah. “Subverting dominant ideologies of the cinematic apparatus; The Mbya-Guarani Cinema Collective transforms digital optics.” Cutting Edge, vol. 4, no.1, 2017, pp. 29-39. vi Some of the research and writing for this dissertation informed and inspired the conference presentation and subsequent publication of: Shamash, Sarah. “Cosmopolitical technologies and the demarcation of screen space at Cine Kurumin: activating immersive shifts in imaginaries, representation, and politics.” Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus, vol. 14, no.1, 2018, pp.11-23. Lastly, I have submitted an edited version of “Chapter 3: Locating Sovereignty in the Auto-Ethnographic-Poetics of Daily Existence in Three Amazonian Films” that has been accepted for publication for a special issue of Postcolonial Directions in Education on Films and Film Festivals. vii Table of Contents Abstract ................................................................................................................................. iii Lay Summary .......................................................................................................................... iv Preface .................................................................................................................................... v Table of Contents .................................................................................................................. vii List of Figures .......................................................................................................................... x List of Abbreviations ............................................................................................................. xiii Acknowledgements .............................................................................................................. xiv Dedication ............................................................................................................................. xv Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 1 A Positionality Question Before the Research Question ............................................................... 2 Locating Research Intentions ........................................................................................................ 4 Research Questions ...................................................................................................................... 7 Research Methods ..................................................................................................................... 10 The Significance of this Research ................................................................................................ 13 Outline of Chapters .................................................................................................................... 14 A Note on Hybridity .................................................................................................................... 15 Chapter 1: Establishing the Framework ................................................................................. 20 1.1 Defining “Indigenous Peoples” ................................................................................................. 21 1.2 Defining Indigenous Media ....................................................................................................... 25 viii 1.3 Third Cinema ............................................................................................................................ 27 1.4 Fourth Cinema .......................................................................................................................... 33 1.5 Visual/Representational Sovereignty as Theoretical Frameworks ............................................. 35 1.6 Brief History of Indigenous Media Activism in Brazil ................................................................. 38 1.7 Brief History of VNA ................................................................................................................. 47 1.8 VNA as a Case Study ................................................................................................................. 55 Chapter 2: Indigenous Cinemas: Cosmopolitical Technologies and Performances .................. 65 2.1 Locating the Cosmopolitical in VNA’s Filmography .................................................................... 65 2.2 Introduction to the History and Evolution of Teaching and Training at VNA .............................. 72 2.3 Divino Tserewahú ..................................................................................................................... 80 2.4 Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women (2009) ..................................................................... 82 2.5 Takumã Kuikuro ....................................................................................................................... 97 2.6 Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004) ................................................................. 107 Chapter 3: Locating Sovereignty in the Auto-Ethnographic Poetics of Daily Existence in Three Amazonian Films ................................................................................................................. 116 3.1 Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village (2003) ................................................................................ 117 3.2 Shomõtsi (2001) ...................................................................................................................... 134 3.3 Kiarãsã Tõ Sâty, The Agouti’s Peanut (2005) ........................................................................... 154 Chapter 4: Spirituality and Geo-Politics in the Films of the Mbya Guarani Cinema collective: Bicycles of Nhanderu (2011) and Tava, The House of Stone (2012) ....................................... 174 4.1 Brief History and Key Cosmological Considerations ................................................................. 175 4.2 The Mbya Guarani Cinema Collective: ..................................................................................... 181 4.3 Bicycles of Nhanderú (2011) .................................................................................................... 186 ix 4.4 Tava, The House of Stone (2012) ............................................................................................. 210 Chapter 5: The Cinematic Praxis of Vincent Carelli ............................................................... 234 5.1 More Mature and More Militant: Decolonizing the Archive in Martírio .................................. 235 5.2 The Origins and First Films of VNA .......................................................................................... 265 5.3 The Spirit of TV (1990) ............................................................................................................ 276 5.4 Notes on Carelli’s Collective Auteur Theory ............................................................................ 284 Coda: The VNA Archive as Pluriverse ................................................................................... 291 Imperfect and Pluriversal Archives ........................................................................................... 297 Toward a Non-Western Genealogy of Film Philosophy ............................................................. 302 Media Archaeology and the Archive ......................................................................................... 303 Futures, Futurities, Futurisms ................................................................................................... 305 Works Cited ......................................................................................................................... 310 x List of Figures Figure 1-1 Installation view of São Paulo Biennial taken by the author ...................................... 47 Figure 2-1 Screen shot from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA .................................. 84 Figure 2-2 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA. ................................ 85 Figure 2-3 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA. ................................ 88 Figure 2-4 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA. ................................ 90 Figure 2-5 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA ................................. 96 Figure 2-6 Screen shots from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, with permission from VNA ............................................................................................................................................ 108 Figure 2-7 Screen shot from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, shown with permission from VNA ................................................................................................................................... 110 Figure 2-8 Screen shot from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, shown with permission from VNA ................................................................................................................................... 112 Figure 3-1 Screen shots from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, with permission from VNA 123 Figure 3-2 Screen shots from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, shown with persmission from VNA. ........................................................................................................................................... 126 Figure 3-3 Screen shot from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village with persmission from VNA .. 129 Figure 3-4 Screen shot from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, with persmission from VNA 132 Figure 3-5 Screen shot from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA .................................. 140 Figure 3-6 Screen shot from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA .................................. 148 Figure 3-7 Screen shots from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA. ................................ 150 xi Figure 3-8 Screen shots from Kiarãsã Tõ Sâty, The Agouti’s Peanut used with permission from VNA ............................................................................................................................................ 156 Figure 3-9 Screen shots from Kiarãsã Tõ Sâty, The Agouti’s Peanut, used with permission from VNA ............................................................................................................................................ 166 Figure 4-1 Screen shot from Bicycles of Nhanderú, used with permission from VNA. ............. 191 Figure 4-2 Screen shot from Bicycles of Nhanderú used with permission from VNA. .............. 195 Figure 4-3 Screen shot from Bicycles of Nhanderu, used with permission from VNA. ............. 196 Figure 4-4 Screen shot from Bicycles of Nhanderu used with permission from VNA ............... 207 Figure 4-5 Photograph documenting roundtable of Indigenous women filmmakers at Cine Kurumin 2017. Taken by the author ........................................................................................... 208 Figure 4-6 Screen shot from Tava, The House of Stone, used with permission from VNA ....... 212 Figure 4-7 Screen shot from Tava the House of Stone, used with permission from VNA ......... 213 Figure 4-8 Screen shot from Tava, the House of Stone, used with permission from VNA ........ 220 Figure 5-1 Screen shot from Martírio, used with permission from VNA .................................. 248 Figure 5-2 Screen shot from Martírio used with permission from VNA ................................... 249 Figure 5-3 Screen shot from Martírio used with permission from VNA ................................... 251 Figure 5-4 Screen shot from Martírio used with permission from VNA ................................... 253 Figure 5-5 Screen shot from Martírio used with permission from VNA ................................... 256 Figure 5-6 Screen shot from Martírio, used with permission from VNA .................................. 258 Figure 5-7 Screen shot from Martírio, used with permission from VNA .................................. 260 Figure 5-8 Screen shot from Martírio, used with permission from VNA .................................. 262 Figure 5-9 Screen shot from Martírio, used with permission from VNA .................................. 264 Figure 5-10 Screen shot from The Girl’s Celebration, used with permission from VNA ......... 271 xii Figure 5-11 Screen shot from The Girl’s Celebration, used with permission from VNA. ........ 273 Figure 5-12 Screen shot from The Spirit of TV, used with permission from VNA .................... 278 xiii List of Abbreviations CAAMA - The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association CEFREC – Centro de Formación y Realización Cinematográfica (Cinematography Education and Production Center - Bolivia) CLACPI - Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Cine y Comunicación de los Pueblos Indígenas (Latin American Film and Video Council of Indigenous Peoples) CTI – Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (Indigenist Labour Centre) DV – Digital Video EZLN – Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) FUNAI – Fundação Nacional do Índio (National Indian Foundation – Brazil) HD – High-definition NGO - Non-Governmental Organization PWA - Programa Waimiri Atroari (Waimiri Atroari Program) SPI – Serviço de Proteção aos Índios (Service of Protection to Indians) UN – United Nations UNPFII - United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues USP – Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo) VHS – Video Home System VNA – Vídeo nas Aldeias (Video in the Villages) xiv Acknowledgements I am ever indebted to the filmmakers who inspired this research and whose films have transformed my imagination. I am honour-bound to Vídeo nas aldeias, in particular, Vincent Carelli for sharing his time, his films, and giving me full access to VNA’s archive. I gratefully acknowledge Dr. Alessandra Santos, my supervisor, for her long-lasting support, and dedication. I am equally thankful to my co-supervisor, Dr. Brian McIlroy, who along with Alessandra, challenged me to clarify my ideas. I am indebted to my committee members who gave their time, insights, and expertise in providing invaluable feedback: Gabriela Aceves Sepulveda and Dana Claxton. I am ever grateful to additional readers, both lay and expert, who generously volunteered their time to read and provide feedback: Dr. Elise Marubbio, Dr. Valerie Raoul, Dr. Robyn Heaslop, Rachel Laszlo, and my mother, Eve Shamash, who has been there since the beginning and who has provided endless support. Special thanks are owed to my whole family. I am deeply thankful to Carlos Colín, for sharing this journey with me and to our son, Elías Colín Shamash. I owe special thanks to Debora Herszenhut in Olinda, Brazil, who generously provided me with her bibliography of VNA. Lastly, I offer enduring gratitude to my fellow students, companions, accomplices, and mentors who continually inspire me: Fatima Jaffer, Julie Okot Bitek, Sonia Medel, Jules Koostachin, Amalia Córdoba, Freya Schiwy, Claudia Arteaga, Michelle Raheja. Thank you for your support and for sharing your passion, intellect, mentorship, wisdom, and companionship on this journey. xv Dedication I dedicate this to Vídeo nas aldeias and to the futures of Indigenous cinema. I dedicate this to my son, Elías. 1 Introduction The short film Khátpy Ro Sujareni (The Story of the Monster Khátpy 2009), directed by Kambrinti Suya, Yaiku Suya, Kamikia P.T. Kisêdjê, Kokoyamaratxi Suya, and Whinti Suyá, follows the legend of a Kisêdjê hunter who is captured by the Khátpy monster as he is out hunting in the forest to feed his hungry children. Narrated by village Elders from the Ngôjwêrê village in Mato Grosso, a Brazilian state, and reenacted by Kisêdjê youth, this five-minute film performs and recounts Kisêdjê folklore in an intergenerational interplay between Elders’ oral histories and youthful performances. This video, along with eighty-eight other films from the Vídeo nas Aldeias (Video in the Villages or VNA) film archive, can be live streamed on VNA’s recently launched (April 18, 2018) video on demand platform.1 This platform provides greater access to VNA’s richly diverse archive of Brazilian Indigenous cinema, with footage and films from over forty Indigenous communities in Brazil, dating back to 1986. The livestreaming platform is also a part of VNA’s imperative to make visible, safeguard, and sustain a part of Brazil’s incredibly varied, intangible cultural heritage through a cinema of Indigeneity. As articulated by the scholar and filmmaker Dorothy Christian (Secwepemc), The concept of Indigeneity sits at an intersection between discursive paradigms in the academy and cultural politics at multiple levels for Indigenous cultural production and Indigenous knowledge(s) thereby having direct implications to culturally specific Indigenous film production. (27) 1 See: http://videonasaldeias.org.br/loja/filmes/ 2 In this dissertation, I elaborate on culturally specific production processes at Video in the Villages as each process reflects and relates to specific Indigenous groups in Brazil, their histories, cosmologies, geographies, and contexts of production. A Positionality Question Before the Research Question As “a positionality question before the research question,”2 I also acknowledge John Beverly’s (1999) pointed question, “How can academic knowledge seek to represent the subaltern when that knowledge is itself implicated in the practices that construct the subaltern as such?”3 I also question whether we can decolonize an academic discipline from within an institution, as the anglo-western academy is fraught with ongoing colonial imperatives. Scholar Martin Nakata (a Torres Strait Islander) observes that “all knowledge production about Indigenous people still works within a wider set of social relations that rationalise, justify, and work to operationalise a complicated apparatus of bureaucratic, managerial, and disciplinary actions that continue to confine the lives of Indigenous people” (8). As one Indigenous feminist scholar, Zoe Todd (Red River Métis, Otipemisiwak), highlights, “[the] European academy’s continued, collective reticence to address its own racist and colonial roots, and debt to Indigenous thinkers in a meaningful and structural way” (10) makes a decolonial shift within the 2 My phrasing is adapted from Dorothy Christian’s master’s thesis introduction, as it relates to my specific context and positionality; her phrasing is “The Problem before the Research Problem” (1). 3 Taken from the book synopsis of Subalternity and Representation: Arguments in Cultural Theory. Duke University Press, 1999. 3 academy seemingly impossible. To echo Freya Schiwy’s concerns, “Although we may share the goal of decolonization, our dialogue is limited by the writing style required for academic publication” (24). I further query my role as a non-Indigenous person working from within a western academy and how I can meaningfully contribute to a conversation on Indigenous cinema. In my capacity as a film programmer / curator and as a film studies instructor, I seek to give respect to Indigenous practitioners through: showcasing their films; inviting them as guests to my classes; inviting them as filmmakers to screenings; and, paying them as consultants on Indigenous oriented film programs; and, lastly, assigning readings of Indigenous scholars to students. I consider this work as an educator and programmer a more practical and direct way to create space for intercultural dialogue and a means to explore the pedagogical possibilities of cinema as it relates to decolonization. Re-centering Indigenous cinema as integral to film studies, becomes a strategy to de-westernize and expand the disciplinary bounds of film studies rooted in “western” ideological, “theoretical, and historical frameworks, critical perspectives as well as institutional and artistic practices” (Maty Bâ and Higbee 1). More than a geographical location, the “west” and the “western” can be understood here as an ideological framework that tends to “reimagine its own hegemony” (Maty Bâ and Higbee 11), one that has dominated the field of film studies. Also of relevance and as stated by Edward George and Ana Piva, “American cinema begins with the figure of the Indian” (20). The intersection of film history, colonization, and scientific discourse that coincides at the turn of the twentieth century includes the Indigenous figure, albeit through gross misrepresentations, at the inception of film history. Michelle H. Raheja clarifies how a “revision of older films featuring Native American plots” is valuable in order to “reframe a narrative that privileges Indigenous participation and perhaps points to sites 4 of Indigenous knowledge production in films otherwise understood as purely Western” (Reservation 196). Given this fraught film history, Indigenous people are often the first to understand the power and potential of film. Not surprisingly, with access to film and communication technologies, Indigenous film and media makers are using the above technologies as sites to creatively (re)assert Indigenous sovereignty. In line with Raheja, (and other scholars), I elaborate an argument that these filmmakers are not only resisting the influence of colonial hegemony but they are expanding and de-westernizing the lexicon of film and media studies from an Indigenous subject position. Further, as a practicing media artist and filmmaker with experience producing, directing, filming, and editing audio-visual works, I apply my experiential and practical knowledge to theoretical understandings of filmmaking praxes. Nonetheless, a study of Indigenous cinema, as it relates to Indigenous people and knowledge systems, remains a contested space to navigate in terms of positionality as a non-Indigenous person within an academic sphere. As Nakata stated, “The way we come to know and understand, discuss, critique and analyse in university programmes is not the way Indigenous people come to know in local contexts” (8). I am fortunate to have some experience as a non-Indigenous person working “on the ground” and learning from Indigenous knowledge keepers. Locating Research Intentions I worked for three years as an English and computer instructor at the Native Education College, in Vancouver, where I had the privilege of learning more about Canadian history and urban Aboriginal youth in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), from a diverse and cross-cultural Canadian Indigenous population and context. I made a film on women’s soccer, in consultation 5 with Kwakwaka'wakw coaches, players, Elders, and the local community of soccer supporters in Alert Bay, BC over a period of several years (2009–2017). I also carried out a documentary media project in Brazil that included working on the street with an Indigenous traditional weaver from Ecuador. I have had the privilege of being invited to witness and participate in ceremonial practices by both local (Kwakwaka'wakw, Semiahmoo) and Latin American (Mayan and Fulniô) communities. In the summer of 2018, I was an invited artist-scholar to the Summer Indigenous Art Intensive at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. During this residency, I had the opportunity to witness, exchange, and learn from Indigenous artists, scholars, writers, and students in Syilx territory. Although limited, these formative experiences within Indigenous contexts and from Indigenous knowledge keepers provided me with in situ learning of Indigenous knowledge systems, protocols, and ways of being. I have integrated my responsibility as a witness to and participant in these experiences with some of the principles outlined by scholar Jo-ann Archibald (Stó:lō), as related by her Elders in her discussion of storywork (2008): respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, interrelatedness, and synergy (Indigenous Storywork 1). Although I am not writing from the position of an Indigenous person, I am conscious of the complex terrain from which I write. Through respectful inquiry, I consider and attempt to integrate these concepts into my study of Brazilian Indigenous cinema, which honours the filmmakers, their films, and VNA’s contribution as a producer of knowledge. As a feminist, mixed-race person with Middle Eastern ancestry, as well as family connections and cultural affinities with Brazil, I have a stake in advocating for the recognition of a plurivocal cinematic voice within and without the academy, one that includes a critical Indigenous presence as part of dismantling intersectional oppressions. I came to my investigation on Brazilian Indigenous 6 cinema through my interest in, and past research on, Third Cinema in Latin America and its legacy as a decolonial project, a point I further discuss in Chapter 1. While I have conducted in-depth and rigorous research on the specific topic of Indigenous cinema at VNA, I acknowledge the contested myth of neutrality in academic research. This lack of neutrality in the academy and in the world at large is evident in the current power structures that dominate knowledge production within a patriarchal Euro-western bias. Notwithstanding these complex intellectual minefields, as a means to navigate the above issues within the limitations of the academy I consider the citation of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, activists, filmmakers, theorists, writers, and thinkers across the Americas as critical sources in this collective dialogue on the decolonization of film studies to create a more nuanced contextualization of Indigenous film in Brazil. I put into dialogue discourses from different hemispheres, Turtle island (Raheja, Rickard, Zoe Todd, Kuokkanen, etc.,) to Abya Yala (Karakras, Juruna, Kopenawa, Krenak), including Indigenous scholars from Aotearoa (Tuhiwai Smith, Barclay, Whitinui), in order to explore articulations, methods, and theories of Indigenous practices of self-representation and self-determination. I have also gained great insight into specific Indigenous groups through Indigenous philosophers (Krenak, Kopenawa, Cusicanqui), and filmmakers (Ferreira, Kuikuro, Pinhanta), and ethnographic and anthropological studies (Graham, Overing, Ewart, Killick, Turner, Fausto, Viveiros de Castro), which have provided me with critical perspectives for my film analyses. Some of the central concerns addressed in this dissertation are based on a discussion of visual sovereignty, as defined by Native American scholars Michelle H. Raheja (Seneca) and Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora Nation) and elaborated on by a North American scholar, Laura R. Graham (representational sovereignty), with a focus on the Xavante of Brazil. 7 Research Questions This dissertation examines a wide range of questions that include those below. My approach is designed, however, to allow for the organic immersion of more complex questions to arise as the reader moves through the material. Some of the questions examined in this dissertation are: How can the study of Indigenous cinema generate other histories, theories, philosophies, and conversations about cinema and life projects that reimagine the capitalist world order? How is gender (re)imagined in Indigenous film and video? And how does this inform discussions of non-western feminisms?4 How is audio-visual technology creatively appropriated by Indigenous communities in their struggles to strengthen their autonomy, sovereignty, and self-determination? Can onto-epistemic oriented cinema play a constructive role in transforming entrenched ways of being and doing towards philosophies of living well (buen vivir, sumak kawsay), as these philosophies relate to climate justice, territorial rights, and our collective futures? What is the role of Indigenous cinema as a technology of knowledge and re-education? How can we be affected and transformed by the archive as a film audience? What is our role 4 I use the term non-western feminism to signify a social-political reading of women’s roles, issues, gender relations, and dynamics through a framework that is based in non-western world views, ideologies, and subjectivities. Non-western feminism relies on epistemologies and lived experiences from the global south and from plurivocal perspectives that exist outside paradigms from the global North. As stated by a Native Hawaiian feminist scholar, “First World feminist theory is incapable of addressing indigenous women’s cultural worlds” (Trask 910). Non-western feminism is a means to address the struggles of women identifying people in non-western worlds. 8 and/or responsibility as active viewers of these films, if any? What is the future of VNA in terms of its archival sustainability? And, to what extent do current technological capabilities, such as on-line archival systems, adequately represent, safeguard, and sustain Indigenous knowledge without compromising its integrity? As Freya Schiwy suggests in her book Indianizing Film, “Indigenous media’s complex process of appropriation suggests theoretically reconsidering the question of technology” (13). De-westernizing film studies includes a de-westernization of technology that challenges the “politics of West/Other thinking as a whole” (Brown 175). George Manuel states that, “The Indians have given more to the world’s technology than they have received from it. But the calculation cannot be made in terms of levels of technology as a measure of civilization” (Manuel and Posluns 15). This reframing of technology from a non-western perspective, reframes an understanding of technology to prioritize technologies adapted over thousands and thousands of years present in Indigenous knowledge systems that include “food, housing, medicine” (Manuel and Posluns 13) as they relate to sustainable and sacred relationships to nature. Certainly, technologies of knowledge, such as VNA, are a contested terrain in academia and are often distorted in the popular imaginary. Also relevant to this line of questioning is that posed by Mignolo in his foreword to Hamid Dabashi’s book, Can the Non-European Think? (2015). Mignolo frames the research of intellectuals Dabashi and Mahbubani as anything but trivial “because epistemic racism crosses the lines of social and institutional spheres” (x). Taking up Mignolo’s point, I also ask how this cinematic technology of knowledge can delink “from the ‘disciplinarity’ of philosophy, and from disciplinary racial and gender normativity[?]” (xii). 9 Arguably, alternative technologies of knowledge can be resisting the “coloniality of power,”5 and yet be trivialized, dismissed, or distorted by that same coloniality of power. 6 Film history itself has been dominated by the “gaze of Empire” (Schiwy 13), a gaze which has essentially shaped epistemological hierarchies of Eurocentrism. I examine the ideological, political, cultural, historical, and philosophical imperatives behind VNA as a project (a film school, production house, and archive) founded in 1986 by Vincent Carelli, a non-Indigenous man. Understanding these ideological imperatives at VNA as they relate to intangible culture is critical; as Graham makes clear, “it is also essential to comprehending the precise nature of indigenous conceptions of and participation in such activities” (“Problematizing” 186). In particular, I explore decolonial knowledge practices as they relate to VNA’s production and archiving of Indigenous films over its three decades-long history and how this project is relevant to film studies. In relation to the futurity of these filmic cultural objects, such as VNA’s recently launched VOD platform, Laura Graham’s discussion of “technologies for documenting intangible culture” is also relevant here. She considers how UNESCO’s 2003 Convention to 5 See Quijano “Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America” (2000) and Mignolo, “Introduction: Coloniality of Power and De-Colonial Thinking” (2007). 6 I use the term coloniality as elaborated by Mignolo and Quijano. In reference to Quijano and Mignolo, Nelson Maldonado Torres defines coloniality as “long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labor, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administrations” (243). 10 “safeguard intangible cultural heritage” poses a number of political questions that entail “issues of power and control that pertain to institutional ‘safeguarding,’ documentation, management, and display of cultural forms” (“Problematizing” 185) as they relate to Indigenous and other subaltern peoples. In the current political moment in Brazil, especially bleak for Indigenous people on the front lines of a climate and humanitarian crisis, their lives and livelihoods threatened by extractive industries, (logging, mining, and agribusiness), poachers, cattle ranchers, drug traffickers, and besieged by anti-Indigenous policies from government, I examine how VNA’s filmic archive, as it exists on this fragile platform, imagines a pluriverse7 (Escobar, 2018) as depicted in The Story of the Monster Khátpy. I study how the project known as Video in the Villages represents over forty Indigenous groups in Brazil—each village a world; each film a technology of knowledge. More than an object of study, I meditate on VNA’s archive as a producer of knowledge. Research Methods My methodology is intentionally interdisciplinary, and thus exceeds the disciplinary bounds of Film Studies. My research consisted of: (1) field research at VNA’s headquarters in Olinda, (2) formal interviews and informal interactions with Indigenous filmmakers and other specialists in the field of Brazilian and Latin American Indigenous film and video, (3) archival 7 Escobar’s last book, Designs for a Pluriverse, reimagines the field of design’s world-making capabilities as they relate to relational ontology and politics of transformative change attuned to the liberation of Mother Earth and radical autonomy. I use his meaning of the term “pluriverse” to conceive of the network of villages cinematically represented in VNA’s archive. 11 research, (4) literature reviews, (5) film analyses, and (6) reading across disciplines. I examined filmic texts, attended film festivals, and went to conferences. I utilized film theory, film history, film philosophy, and film criticism; intersectional feminist theory, Fourth World Theory, critical race theory, gender studies, anthropological and ethnographic texts, and Indigenous and Latin American studies. This combination of approaches opened up my analysis of VNA’s pedagogical and cinematic methods, and provided space for critical readings of the films to explicate their anti-colonial knowledge systems, in order to highlight the paradigm shift they offer to the field of film studies. I argue for an epistemic shift in the field that considers the work of Indigenous filmmakers and scholars as integral to the study of film, rather than as completely erased from the conversation, or as a marginal and ghettoized category of film, or as a topic of ethnographic interest. In this dissertation, I delve into the relationship between Indigeneity and representation in film and video in the context of larger questions of intersectional forms of oppression, subalternity and representation, and power and resistance. In the Brazilian Indigenous context, considering access to resources, conditions of production, and tools of representation, the emphasis is not on traditional cinematic texts nor high production values; instead, the filmmakers discussed here tend to follow a cultural logic and to define the cinematic space as a process for constructing cultural, spiritual, social, and political identities, and relationships of reciprocity. Thus, rather than an argument for Indigenous film production to be subsumed within hegemonic frameworks of film production and distribution, although this may the path for some filmmakers, I argue that projects like VNA are trying to change systems of power and dominance while directing us to alternative, yet equally critical, modes of cinematic expression. Video as a mode of cinematic expression in the context of Indigenous video in Brazil, eschews conventions of mainstream Hollywood and film production. 12 Schiwy explains that “the process of indianizing”8 does not seek “integration into hegemonic structures” (15). Like Schiwy, in her study of Andean media makers, I argue that Video in the Villages is working to transform existing patriarchal, capitalist, and colonial structures through cinematic imaginaries. Arjun Appadurai has proposed that “the imagination is a vital resource in all social processes and projects” (287). Through the creation of VNA’s growing alternative filmic corpus, I examine how VNA is working to invigorate Indigenous futurities and cinema worlds by engaging collective imaginaries. Dorothy Christian asserts that, “The significance of how Indigenous peoples represent themselves is of paramount importance to the survival of their cultures” (27). The criticality of self-representation may extend beyond the disciplinary boundaries of film studies suggesting a need to expand cinema as a field of study to include and integrate Indigenous storytelling and survivance. 9 This examination of VNA’s contribution to cinema, thus has implications for invigorating the relevance of film studies. While cinema may be regarded as the dominant medium of the twentieth century (with television as a dominant medium in the second half of the twentieth 8 Schiwy borrows the term “indianizing” from Felipe Quispe, one of Bolivia’s Aymara revolutionaries-turned-politicians, to reject the mestizaje discourse and instead “indianize the white man” (12, 13). Schiwy explains a process of building on a long “Andean tradition of integrating what is foreign into traditional cultural and economic forms” (13). 9 I use the Anishnaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor’s influential neologism (1994) which he describes as “an active sense of presence, over absence, deracination, and oblivion; survivance is the continuance of stories” (85) in order to highlight the political position of VNA’s futurity as it relates to Indigenous testimony and existence. 13 century), cinematic and televisual dominance have undeniably shifted with the expansion of digital environments (media platforms, tools and technologies of production and dissemination) in the twenty-first century. I examine how VNA is situated within these shifting technological regimes while considering the specific contexts of production and access to audio-visual resources. I use Córdoba and Salazar’s theorization of “imperfect video” (adapted from the Cuban, Julio García Espinosa’s theory “For an imperfect cinema”), to root VNA’s filmography in a distinctly Latin American context and theoretical framework. 10 The Significance of this Research Some of the questions I examine in this dissertation are framed through a constructed dialogue that emerges between my study of Video in the Villages, and broader issues in film and media studies, anticolonial practices and decolonial thought. I am essentially asking: Can film studies exist beyond the Euro-western academic narrative? Can the field of film studies be decolonized? And how is VNA framed within these changing technological contexts? Can Indigenous cinema, including digital storytelling, be integrated, as opposed to ghettoized, in film studies curricula? Can such an integration create a balance of knowledge in film studies? My dissertation project is thus relevant to film studies curriculum development in a Canadian context which has largely reproduced a white-, male-, Euro-, and western-centric canon despite the growing corpus of non-western films, theories, and philosophies. I also ask how we can understand, analyze, theorize, historicize, and teach film studies grounded in transformative 10 I further discuss “For an imperfect cinema” in the context of Third Cinema in Chapter 1, and I discuss “imperfect video” in more detail in Chapter 3. 14 shifts in decolonizing imaginaries? Or can a politico-epistemic cinema make politico-epistemic changes in the imaginary? What are the intangible and tangible examples of those shifts in imaginaries on and off-screen? As stated previously, film studies has long been situated within a Euro-western framework. An engagement with the philosophical worldviews of the different communities representated at VNA, along with their specific contexts of production, is part of my approach to filmic analysis. In my research and writing, I aim to develop a philosophical film argument based on film analyses, historical research, and theorizations that all contribute to conceptualizing VNA’s archive as a non-western, anti-colonial technology of knowledge. Outline of Chapters Chapter 1 outlines much of the theoretical frameworks and historical lineages of Indigenous cinema as a decolonial project, while defining and delineating my usage of such loaded terms as Indigenous, Indigenous media, Fourth Cinema, Visual and Representational sovereignty. Definitional issues, as Tracy Devine Guzmán explains in her book Native and National in Brazil (2013): are particularly difficult when working across languages as the term Indian, Native American, Amazonian, indigenous, as the Portuguese índio, nativo, ameríndio, silvícola, and indígena each have a unique etymological history and bring with them a particular constellation of meanings in different times and places.” (35) I address the issues raised by Guzmán by using the term Indigenous with a capital “I”, a practice used by many Indigenous peoples, leaders, and scholars, as well as Cultural Survival, a leading 15 human rights organization for Indigenous people. I also employ the editorial practice of using the terminology that is self-defined by diverse Indigenous people globally.11 The body of my dissertation, Chapters 2-5, includes in-depth filmic analysis of specific films from VNA’s archive. In Chapter 2, I examine the history and evolution of VNA as a pedagogical project while making an argument for specific films from VNA’s archive as cosmopolitical technologies (Pi’õnhitsi: Unnamed Xavante Women 2009, Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated 2004). I develop a discussion of how these cosmopolitical technologies include interdependent relationships and relationalities with humans and other-than-humans; in VNA’s case, cosmopolitical technology also includes relationships with non-Indigenous filmmakers and technologies. I consider these relationships and influences as constitutive of the hybrid nature of VNA’s productions. A Note on Hybridity I take this opportunity to define my use of hybridity throughout my dissertation in the context of VNA. Certainly, hybridity is a power-laden term as it has often been associated in a Latin American cultural discourse with such terms as “mestizaje, indianismo, diversalite, creolite, and raza cosmica”; however, as Robert Stam further explains, “it has been recoded” and revalorized as a “form of jujitsu, since within colonial discourse the question of hybridity was linked to prejudice against race mixing” (32). In the Brazilian context, the ideology of racial 11 For instance, in some cases I use the term Native American, as that is the term with which some of the scholars whom I cite self-identify. 16 democracy, as developed by Gilberto Freyre in the 1930s, has been critiqued by black women activist, Lélia Gonzalez, as serving “to obscure racialized processes of social and political exclusion” (Caldwell 180). Although “the country’s high incidence of racial miscegenation (mestiçagem)…has been cited as proof of racial harmony” (Caldwell 180), race, class, and gender discrimination have surreptitiously been embedded in this mythologized dominant ideology. As Laurel C. Smith articulates, “Hybridity claims require caution, especially when discussing Indigeneity” (331). I echo Smith’s line of interrogation when she asks, “given the risks of hybridity, how best to examine, describe and discuss the collaborative practices of visualization and the overlapping organizational geographies of indigenous video production?” (331). Given the collaborative nature of filmmaking and Indigenous video production at VNA, hybridity is resignified and reclaimed from national narratives of assimilation and mestizaje that “meld with neoliberal multiculturalism” (Smith 331) as constitutive of a sovereign, cross-cultural, collaborative, polymorphic, and reciprocal subjectivity and gaze. Further, to bring into focus Escobar’s discussion of worlding and political ontology, VNA’s hybridity can also be said to arise from “the interrelations among worlds, including the conflicts that ensue as different ontologies strive to sustain their own existence in their interaction with other worlds” (Designs 66). Consequently, the affirmation of existence, continuance, and renewal rooted in ancestral, dynamic, reciprocal, cross-cultural, and interdependent relationships to humans and other-than-humans, all interwoven into complex and fluid temporalities, is more than any expression of Indigenous authenticity or the purification of culture in the archive. The archive as a whole, from 1986 to the present, embodies interconnected, superimposed, and multiple spatio-temporalities as 17 part of a hybrid aesthetic that Stam qualifies as “chronotopic multiplicity.”12 In short, hybridity at VNA arises from these axes: cross-cultural collaborations and exchanges, heterogeneous subjectivities, interactions with other worlds, and multiple temporalities. Chapter 3 examines the meditation on daily life in VNA’s filmography through an analysis of three Amazonian films: Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village (2003), Shomõtsi (2001), Kiarãsã Tõ Sâty, The Agouti’s Peanut (2005). I also discuss these cinematic works as they relate to imperfect media (Córdova and Salazar), and the “cosmological embeddedness of the everyday” (Overing and Passes 298). I examine autoethnographic methods of inquiry in these three films that explore daily life and notions of living well as revealed in each village’s social organizations, cosmo-politics, and spatio-temporal universes. Chapter 4 explores the spirituality and geo-politics of the Mbya Guarani Cinema Collective through filmic analyses of Bicycles of Nhanderú (2011) and Tava, The House of Stone (2012). I study the use of anti-oppressive research methods as part of the Mbya Guarani Cinema Collective’s filmmaking praxis. I further frame Patricia Ferreira’s filmmaking within non-western feminism, through an examination of how Indigenous notions of gender complementarity and reciprocity are embedded in the Mbya Guarani filmography. Lastly, in Chapter 5, I investigate the cinematic praxis of Vincent Carelli, and his process of Indigenization as the non-Indigenous founder of Video in the Villages, through a study of his 12 Stam’s discussion of “chronotopic multiplicity” is part of a consideration of hybridity and alternative aesthetics and film practices with a focus on Latin America and Third Cinema. For more, see chapter 1, “Beyond Third Cinema: The aesthetics of hybridity,” by Robert Stam in Rethinking Third Cinema (2003). 18 most recent production, Martírio (2016), before going back to his earliest films, The Girl’s Celebration (1987) and The Spirit of TV (1990). I trace thematic threads and elaborate on stylistic and conceptual concerns in his oeuvre, as they relate to the archive as a whole. In particular, I examine issues of re- and de-territorialization in both Carelli’s filmic work and as a motif in VNA’s filmography. I conclude by looking at the future of archival ecologies and sustainability, and Indigenous futurisms as they relate to VNA, as well as proposing a film philosophical framework for understanding VNA’s archival body of knowledge. In sum, my argument: • Examines VNA as a case study in order to broaden our understanding of film culture while proposing a decolonizing epistemic paradigm shift in the Euro-western centric conception of film studies. • Valorizes the historical, cultural, cinematic, political, epistemic, and ontological inheritance of VNA as one of the world’s most important archives, while looking to its futurity and survivance. • Proposes a film philosophical understanding of VNA’s archive as a decolonial technology framed within a non-western hemispheric dialogue of Indigenous memories, imaginaries, sovereignties, and futurities. • Considers film as an interdisciplinary medium and field of study with the power to decolonize the imaginary. This dissertation thus belongs to a broader interdisciplinary conversation about Indigenous media, film, and decolonial studies, in line with what Arturo Escobar calls “a commitment to place, the communal, and other practices of being, knowing, and doing” (Designs 21). I consider this project as part of an expanded and collective consciousness that is passionate 19 and committed to the power of cinema as a means to reimagine worlds and world orders; one that includes and valorizes Indigenous and other subaltern knowledge systems as integrated across disciplinary boundaries and as central to reimagining film studies. 20 Chapter 1: Establishing the Framework My research on Indigenous film and video13 in Brazil centres on the history and cinematic output of Vídeo nas Aldeias or Video in the Villages (VNA henceforth), a non-governmental organization operating over the last thirty years (1986-2017).14 The goal of this chapter is to introduce key historical, conceptual, and thematic considerations and positions. The definition of important terms will lay the groundwork for more detailed discussions about VNA, as these considerations and positions intersect with film analyses, theorizations, and philosophies of self-determination. My methodology for this case study of VNA and its archive is based on field research conducted from September through December 2016, when I conducted first-hand interviews and I immersed myself in VNA’s filmic and bibliographic archive. I added a second research trip to Salvador, Brazil, from July 7-17, 2017, during the Indigenous film festival Cine Kurumin that provided me with another immersive opportunity. My research combines field work and film theory, with reference to philosophy, history, and criticism. It also deploys Indigenous approaches to knowledge production, such as Michelle H. Raheja’s concept of “visual sovereignty,” as a theoretical framework to analyze the films and the contexts in which they were created. In this chapter I define key terms, provide a history of cinema and its 13 In this text, I often use the terms film and video together. By “film,” I refer to the history (past, present, and future) of filmmaking and film studies. By “video” I refer to the medium of video and its production process. 14 Depending on the sources, VNA is quoted as beginning in 1986 or 1987. I use 1986, as cited on VNA’s website, as quoted by Carelli, and based on archival photographic documentation of its first experiments with the Nambiquara. 21 connection to Latin American Indigenous cinema, outline my methodology and theoretical framework, summarize a history of media activism in Brazil, explain what has been done before on the topic of VNA, and discuss VNA as a case study. 1.1 Defining “Indigenous Peoples” The term “Indigenous,” referring to Indigenous peoples, is an all-encompassing term evoking diverse societies, cosmologies, cultures, languages, geographies, histories, and knowledge systems. Indeed, the term has come to denote an unstable category which elides complex notions of identity. According to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, “[i]t is estimated that there are more than 370 million Indigenous people spread across seventy countries worldwide.” (United Nations, “Fact Sheet”). For the purposes of this dissertation, I employ the term “Indigenous” in its global sense, referring to individuals, communities, and groups of people who self-identify as Indigenous and tend to share certain characteristics. Some of these characteristics, as listed by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, include: historical continuity with pre-colonial and/ or pre-settler societies; strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources; distinct social, economic or political systems; distinct language, culture and beliefs; [tendency to] form non-dominant groups of society; and resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities. (United Nations, “Fact Sheet”) Considering this vast diversity, when establishing a working definition for this uneasy category known as Indigenous peoples, I quote a Sami scholar, Rauna Kuokkanen: 22 I point out that underpinning these apparent differences is a set of shared perceptions of the world – perceptions relating to cultural and social practices and discourses that are driven by an intimate relationship with the natural environment. Indigenous people share a number of experiences related to being colonized and marginalized by dominant societies. (7) According to a 2010 census, Brazil’s Indigenous population is relatively small (0.47%), with 896,917 people self-identifying as Indigenous, compared to such other Latin American countries as Bolivia (41%), Guatemala (60%), Ecuador (60.3%), and Mexico (15.1%). Of particular interest in Brazil is that of the almost 900,000 self-identified Indigenous people, there are 305 different Indigenous groups who speak at least 274 languages. To put this socio-cultural diversity into context, in all of Europe there are only 140 native languages, according to a study by the Institute of European History in 2011 (Fellet). Programs like VNA in Brazil, which have produced films with and by over forty Indigenous ethnic groups, are part of larger Latin American pan-Indigenous movements that demand new forms of representation, political autonomy, and multicultural recognition through film and video. These programs participate in the politicization of Latin America’s Indigenous movements through visual and representational sovereignty. In my conversations with Carelli (November, December 2016), he told me that prior to Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and Michel Temer’s seizing of power on August 31, 2016 (and prior to the current alt-right-wing government’s anti-Indigenous agenda), 15 funding and plans were in place to research the status quo of all the various networks and groups in Brazil working 15 Michel Temer was Brazil’s thirty-seventh president; he served from August 31 – December 31, 2019. 23 with Indigenous media (i.e., Cine Kurumin, Instituto Catitu, Instituto Socioambiental, Rádio Yandê, etc.). Unfortunately for the community of Indigenous media makers, activists, scholars, and supporters, this important qualitative and quantitative research is not likely to occur in the current political climate; more immediate advocacy and activism for all human rights and particularly those of marginalized groups, are thus required. When Temer took power in Brazil (August 31, 2016), he placed a number of military generals at Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), after appointing an evangelical pastor, Antônio Fernandes Toninho Costa, as president of FUNAI. Marcos Apurinã, a representative of the Indigenous peoples of Rondônia at the National Indigenous Policy Council (CNPI), commented on the appointment of General Franklimberg Rodrigues de Freitas as director of “Promotion for Sustainable Development” at FUNAI: “They have placed a person who can harm our rights, our access to resources and our sustainability. He is coming in to complicate the FUNAI in this sector, so that outsiders … have access to the resources of indigenous lands.” On March 25, 2017, Temer announced a restructuring of FUNAI that would eliminate a significant number of positions, with detrimental effects to the organization, to Indigenous groups, and to their land rights.16 Since the former army captain, Jair Bolsonaro has taken over the government, he has been dismantling FUNAI (see footnote 42, page 33). During my field research, I had the opportunity to meet with filmmaker Mari Corrêa, who founded the Instituto Catitu in 2009 with a mission to: “contribute to the strengthening of Indigenous cultures and the defense of their rights through the use of new technologies as tools 16 For more on this issue, see de Souza’s article, “Temer e Serraglio aprofundam desmonte da Funai.” 24 to express, transmit, share knowledge, from their own world views.” (Instituto Catitu). After ten years during which she worked and collaborated closely with Vincent Carelli at VNA, Corrêa founded Instituto Catitu with a focus on promoting the self-representation of Indigenous women through film and video. Other programs which aim to strengthen Indigenous media production and communication networks between Indigenous communities exist in Bolivia (such as CEFREC, the Cinematography Education and Production Center) and in Ecuador (such as CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, Ecuador’s largest organization); meanwhile, many films with a focus on Indigenous epistemologies, struggles, and perspectives have originated all over Latin America—in Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico—over the last few decades. VNA is a unique and key project in Brazil and one of a small number of programs in all of Latin America working to transform the social and political imaginary by interpreting Indigenous paradigms and epistemes through film and video practices, while fighting for Indigenous rights. In this way, the video collection at VNA is a vital part of Brazil’s and Latin America’s social, cultural, political, and historical identity and legacy and one that deserves critical attention as a producer of knowledge. Over the course of its decades-long history, the focus of VNA has been on training, production, and distribution. Today, it is largely focused on digitization and preservation of the archive, as well as distribution. Its philosophy is to appropriate video and film as an instrument of cultural production and transmission, while adapting it to traditional forms of oral storytelling and memory (“Video Nas Aldeias”). I explore how VNA filmmakers strategically interpret the registers of Indigenous epistemes through film 25 and video and how their cinema is conceived, produced, distributed, and consumed as part of an approach that “visualizes sovereignty.”17 1.2 Defining Indigenous Media When it comes to Indigenous media, I focus on the cinematic, with specific reference to films and videos in which Indigenous directors, editors, producers, and collaborators played integral roles in the production process. Indigenous film and video are as varied as Indigenous life itself. As Faye Ginsburg aptly puts it: “Such works are inherently complex cultural objects, as they cross multiple cultural boundaries in their production, distribution, and consumption” (366). In the case of VNA, there is a range of involvement by and collaboration with non-Indigenous filmmakers over the years, contributing to the idea of film as a hybrid art form, and, thereby complicating simplistic, essentialized, or fetishized readings of the films. Significantly, Faye Ginsburg remains cautious when it comes to an analysis of the formal qualities of Indigenous film and video, rather stressing the importance of a focus on the cultural mediations that occur in film production within an Indigenous structure. As follows, I consider the relational aspect of Indigenous filmmaking as part of creating a sovereign space on and off screen. In fact, Faye Ginsburg defines Indigenous media as “a variety of media, including film and video, as new vehicles for internal communication, for self-determination, and for resistance to outside cultural domination” (92). Freya Schiwy, in her book Indianizing Film (2009), elaborates on a discussion of Indigenous media based on one of CEFREC’s documentaries called The Other 17 In this chapter I further elaborate the concept of “visual sovereignty” as articulated by the Seneca film scholar Michelle H. Raheja. See Reservation Reelism, (2010), for more on this topic. 26 Gaze. Schiwy explains how the voice-over in the documentary proposes “that Indigenous media constitute a tool that allows these communities to challenge common perceptions about Indigenous people” (39). She goes on to say that “Indigenous video here is claimed as a technology of knowledge” (39). As articulated by Schiwy, The Other Gaze, directed by CEFREC’s founder, Iván Sanjinés (son of Jorge Sanjínes, the famous Bolivian filmmaker), “implicitly questions the epistemological anchors set in European histories of science and philosophy” (Schiwy 39). According to the above-cited Indigenous media specialists, many Latin American filmmakers and media activists have been and are resisting and talking back to a western-imposed knowledge production system contained within colonial legacies. In fact, when it comes to these colonial legacies, the development discourse, as part of western modernity (along with the exploitative economic system that is also part of colonialism’s legacies), has divided the world into first, second, and third worlds. Although development language has changed from “Third World,” to “underdeveloped country,” to a “developing nation,” the discourse is arguably the same. As Arturo Escobar puts it so well: …although the discourse has gone through a series of structural changes, the architecture of the discursive formation laid down in the period of 1945-1955 has remained unchanged, allowing the discourse to adapt to new conditions. The result has been the succession of development strategies and substrategies up to the present, always within the confines of the same discursive space. (“Encountering Development” 42) Indigenous filmmakers are not the first to challenge colonial power structures by proposing alternative gazes. Engaging the antecedents and histories of a decolonial cinema project, Third Cinema must be acknowledged as the first significant non-western film movement to challenge 27 colonial powers by reclaiming the development discourse of the third world. In Latin America a series of core texts and films first proposed, articulated, and elaborated Third World film ideology. 1.3 Third Cinema This time period (1945-1955) which Escobar refers to was also important in terms of propelling forward a new Latin American cinema that arose as a reaction to interventions from the west. The rise of U.S neo-colonialism, which permeated the Latin American economy, labour conditions, politics, and culture, (including the dominating presence of Hollywood film as part of this hegemony and imperial ideology), ultimately incited a generation of Latin American filmmakers in the 1960s and 1970s to create a revolutionary cinema. These thinkers, theorists, and filmmakers were acutely aware of the widespread poverty, inequality, violence, domination, and misery in each of their respective nations. They internalized their historical contexts, denouncing neo-colonialism, US imperialism, and the Hollywood film model in favour of a national cinema that reflected a local, political, historical, social, geographical, and economic, and culturally aesthetic reality; this cinema became famously known as Tercer Cine, or “Third Cinema.” Starting in the mid 1960s in Brazil, with Cinema Novo and Cinema Marginal, a series of core texts articulate Third Cinema’s theories, ideologies and praxis: the Brazilian Glauber Rocha’s celebrated essay, “The Aesthetics of Hunger”; the Argentinians’ Solanas and Getinos’ “Towards a Third Cinema”; the Cuban Julio García Espinosa’s “For an Imperfect Cinema”; and the Bolivian Jorge Sanjíne’s “Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema.” These texts’ common emphasis on proletarian ideologies, intellectualism, and anti-colonialism are also reflected in the films from the period that articulate a political and aesthetic language of struggle, 28 resistance, and liberation. These filmmaker theorists transformed a common scarcity of resources, along with volatile political and production conditions, into aesthetic and political assets. For Stam, “envisioning a wide spectrum of alternative practices” (31) included recuperating and resignifying scarcity and waste materials as part of an artistic strategy that he called an “aesthetics of garbage” (35).18 A limitation of resources thus called for a hybridized bricolage of sound and image as part of a leitmotif that gave currency to imperfect, hungry, Third Cinema aesthetics. Even though Third Cinema filmmakers were mostly educated, intellectual, middle-to-upper class males (with some exceptions, i.e. Marta Rodríguez in Colombia)—obviously quite distinct from the context of Indigenous filmmakers—Third Cinema’s project to decolonize film history and theory is pertinent to the logic behind visual sovereignty. Furthermore, notable filmmakers, such as Jorge Sanjínes, who founded the Ukamau group in 1966 in Bolivia, and Marta Rodríguez, one of Colombia’s most renowned documentary filmmakers, were involved in the Indigenous struggle through filmmaking. Rodríguez’ films19 and the films of the Ukamau group led by Sanjínes, 20 were precursors in developing a cinema that included active 18 The “aesthetics of garbage” came out of a cinematic movement which originated in Sao Paulo’s downtown neighbourhood Boca de Lixo (“mouth of garbage”) and is associated with Cinema Marginal. For a deeper discussion on the aesthetics of garbage, see Robert Stam’s essay, “Beyond Third Cinema: the aesthetics of hybridity.” 19 E.g., Nuestra voz de tierra, memoria y futuro1982, Testigos de un Etnocidio, Memorias de Resistencia (2011). 20 E.g., Yawar Malku, Blood of the Condor 1969, Clandestine Nation (1989). 29 participation at each level of film production and exhibition by and for an Indigenous population. Their groundbreaking films present non-western, Indigenous, Latin American perspectives that challenge the class and ethnic hierarchies of Bolivian, Colombian, and Latin American society in general, by “casting the proletarian and Indigenous masses as revolutionary liberators” (Wood 63). In turn, audiences, rather than remaining, “the imagined passive spectators are transforming into an engaged, class-conscious, and potentially radical mass,” and “their rational understanding of their own predicaments translates into an abstract, emotive urge to act against oppression” (Wood 70). Cinema thus becomes a vehicle for radical social consciousness. Examples of how films propelled concrete change are numerous; for instance, Sanjínes’ fiction film Yawar Malku: Blood of the Condor (1969), which exposes the sterilization of an Indigenous peasant Andean woman in Bolivia, led to the expulsion of the Peace Corps from Bolivia. Significantly, it was more than the films themselves that were vanguards of Third Cinema’s project to decolonize film. As Getino and Solanas sum up: Third Cinema is in our opinion, the cinema that recognizes in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientific, artistic manifestation of our time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people as the starting point—in a word, the decolonization of culture. (116) The filmmakers’ aesthetics and politics were truly avant-garde; their conception of the filmmaking process reimagined the patriarchal, hierarchal Hollywood structure still dominant today. Many of the Latin American Third Cinema filmmakers, including Rodríguez (and her partner Jorge Silva, 1941–1987), along with Sanjínes and the Ukamau group, carried out all aspects of production, from pre-production to distribution and exhibition, which included organizing screenings of their works in rural communities. This comprehensive approach to the 30 filmmaking process, which operates both within and without the capitalist film distribution system and market, is also evidenced in Latin American Indigenous film production today. I discuss examples of Indigenous filmmaking models which can be located along a continuum beginning with some of the Third Cinema filmmakers; the collective approach that Third Cinema filmmakers and many of the Indigenous filmmakers’ practice can be understood as manifestations of political sovereignty. Sanjínes, in his commitment to develop a cinematic language and narrative techniques that reflect an Andean cosmovision, introduced the “all-encompassing sequence shot.” He elaborates on how …To narrate that world cinematographically from within, creating Andean culture with cinema, extending the creative act by integrating the cinematic medium with the internal rhythms of our cultural majority in order to cease exercising a point of view that is distant, external, intrusive, and domineering. (Sanjínes) The Third Cinema filmmakers, much like the Soviet filmmakers of the 1920s (Vertov, Pudovkin, Eisenstein), and French New Wave filmmakers of the 1960s (Godard, Truffaut), were known for self-theorizing their work and cinematic project as part of their political engagement with their respective national contexts. The Indigenous filmmakers I discuss differ, theorizing their cosmologies and world views through their films and filmmaking practices, rather than through writing. A number of interviews and texts I refer to articulate and theorize the discussed filmmakers’ praxes; nonetheless, these filmmakers do not self-theorize by means of writing technologies in the same way that the Third Cinema, French New Wave, and Soviet filmmakers 31 did.21 However, just as the filmmakers from el nuevo cine latinoamericano (the Latin American filmmakers from the 60s and ’70s associated with Third Cinema) were aware of their social, historical, geographical, and political conditions and the devastating role of the United States in their countries, so too were and are the Indigenous filmmakers and media activists acutely aware of their histories and futures, as demonstrated in the incisive analyses and self-reflexive portrayals of their situations through film (and media activism) in the context of the ongoing colonization of their lands and peoples. Since the time of the conquest, over five-hundred years ago to the present, a history of genocide and extermination is evidenced in colonial, religious, and national agendas. Further, to this deliberate and ongoing history of genocidal tactics, there has also been a trend in Latin America to assimilate Indigenous peoples, through religion and through biological and cultural mixing. Historically, the incorporation of Indigenous populations and territories into the Brazilian nation state was crucial to Brazil’s economic growth and to its emergence as a continental power. After Brazil gained independence from Portugal in 1822, Indianismo in the arts was an expressive form that many authors, poets, and artists used to romanticize the “Indian” as a symbol of the new nation. 22 Significantly, however, Indigenous populations have been 21 Of note is that a Māori filmmaker, Barry Barclay is an example of a filmmaker, activist, writer and theorist who self-theorized and who gave currency to the term Fourth Cinema discussed below. 22 In Brazil, indianismo or indianism: “is a Brazilian literary and artistic movement that reached its peak during the first stages of Romanticism, though it had been present in Brazilian literature since the Baroque period.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indianism_(arts) 32 absorbed into a mostly token and somewhat idealized and self-congratulatory Brazilian notion of a racially diverse and inclusive national and cultural identity.23 Interpretations of Indigenous peoples’ histories, customs, and cultures, cinematic or otherwise, have been traditionally left to non-Indigenous agents. As the Ecuadorian Indigenous activist Lucila Lema puts it: “Quichua women have had absolutely no access to the media and when they do enter into these spaces they become symbols of poverty, ignorance, domestication, etc. Election campaigns and commercial advertisements devalue, folklorize, and distort these images, submitting them to the supply and demand of the market” (“Digamos lo que somos”). Ariel Duarte, the founder of the Mbya-Guarani Cinema Collective, which I discuss in more detail in Chapter 4, is seen on camera in the film Tava, The House of Stone (2012) explaining the impetus of the collective and the film: “In 2007 we began to make videos for the Guarani cause. They weren’t like the videos made by the whites. We always wanted to show our Sacred Journey, who built the Tava… To understand why the Guarani have no land anymore, and why life is so difficult for them.” In essence, the lived experience of Indigenous people and a growing Indigenous film movement are highlighted in a critical counterpoint to an unfolding national discourse and projection of the Indigenous other. Raheja also discusses Third Cinema’s connection to “a variety of Indigenous cinemas that incorporate local epistemes with new technologies” (“Reading” 1167). Although acknowledging 23 Guzmán’s book, Native and National in Brazil: Indigeneity after Independence (2013), provides a comprehensive overview of the romanticized role Indigenous people play in Brazil’s national history, politics, and cultural production, while highlighting Indigenous people’s ongoing work to decolonize it. 33 this lineage, she elaborates: “Indigenous cinema has its roots in specific Indigenous aesthetics with their attendant focus on a particular geographical space, discrete cultural practices, social activist texts, notions of temporality that do not delink the past from the present or future, and spiritual traditions” (1167)—what Barry Barclay has termed “Fourth Cinema.” 1.4 Fourth Cinema Barry Barclay, the previously mentioned Māori filmmaker, developed the notion of Fourth Cinema in relation to First (Hollywood), Second (art house) and Third (post-colonial movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America) cinemas; subsequently, Fourth Cinema has come to signify Indigenous cinema. According to Barclay, “First, Second, and Third Cinema are all Cinemas of the Modern Nation State. From an Indigenous place of standing, these are all invader cinemas” (7). Using epistemes from the Fourth World, which can be defined as deterritorialized subaltern populations living within a Nation State, Barclay says of Indigenous peoples that they “may seek to rework the ancient core values to shape a growing Indigenous cinema outside the national orthodoxy” (11). Barclay adopts the term to theorize an approach to filmmaking through a global Indigenous presence: “If we as Māori look closely enough and through the right pair of spectacles, we will find examples at every turn of how the old principles have been reworked to give vitality and richness to the way we conceive, develop, manufacture, and present our films” (11). Barclay’s praxis privileged the Indigenous gaze, both in front of and behind the camera. The first Māori to produce a feature film (Nga-ti, (1987)), Barclay’s Fourth Cinema philosophy can be traced back to his book Our Own Image (1990), although the term “Fourth Cinema” did not emerge until some years later (Milligan 349). Delivered in a speech in 2002, Barclay’s theorizing of Fourth Cinema is based on tenets of Māori protocol, while privileging an 34 Indigenous audience. As articulated by Christina Milligan, “[T]he indigenous camera will see differently, frame differently, provide a different context and serve a different philosophy” (349) which, in the Māori case, centers the Māori world view or te ao Māori. It is important to note that in the broader political context of international movements, the lexicon of political discourse began to include Fourth World Theory as part of a framework to better understand a common Indigenous experience. George Manuel (Secwepemc Nation), who published The Fourth World: An Indian Reality (1974), discusses what unites Indigenous peoples globally: a shared history of subjugation to and survival of settler colonialism, and second, a prevailing understanding of spiritual relationships with the land. Manuel, an influential Indigenous activist and leader, goes on to say: “The Fourth World emerges as each people develops customs and practices that wed it to the land” (Columpar 11). Fourth World Theory thus recognizes the struggle for self-determination for Indigenous peoples.24 In this context, I will investigate whether the films and videos from VNA can be considered a part of the Fourth Cinema canon. Crucially Manuel, in his foundational text from the 1970s, argued that Indigenous peoples were not “just nations within nation states, but also nations within larger geopolitical processes” (Ryser et al. 53). Although the term Fourth World initially refered to Indigenous peoples in the north-western hemisphere, comparable Indigenous knowledge systems and geopolitical processes affected Brazil’s Indigenous people in the global South. Indeed, Stuart Murphy views Barclay’s idea of a Fourth Cinema as inclusive of a “global Indigenous presence” (11). I make a strong argument for the 24 For an in-depth discussion of FWT see: Rudolf Ryser, Dina Gilio-Whitaker et al. “Fourth World Theory and Methods of Inquiry” 2016. 35 core cultural, theoretical, political, and cinematic relevance of self-representation in contemporary Indigenous cinema by means of my specific focus on VNA and its productions. I look at how Fourth World Theory across Indigenous cultures is relevant to my discussion of VNA’s archive and Indigenous articulation of “history, memory, and thought processes” as “multidimensional” in relation to an “evolving and dynamic relationship between people (animals, plants), the land, and the cosmos” (Ryser et al. 54,55). In this way, VNA’s filmmograhy elaborates a representational lexicon of knowledge systems and geo-political realities which can be situated within the framework of Fourth Cinema and Fourth World Theory. As such, it is necessary and timely that these VNA films and their creators be deemed critical contributions and contributors to an expanding field of film history. 1.5 Visual/Representational Sovereignty as Theoretical Frameworks As part of my filmic analysis and interpretation, I employ visual and representational sovereignty as overarching concepts to think through how filmmakers construct and present dominant themes of daily life, identity, cosmologies, culture, tradition, modernity, colonial legacies and political resistance. To better define the word sovereignty as used here, I rely on Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora), a visual historian, artist, curator, and director of the American Indian Program at Cornell University, she explains, “I would still defend the position that the appropriation of the term sovereignty was and remains a critical source of self-determination for Indigenous peoples globally” (467). While the online Oxford Dictionary’s first definition of sovereignty is “Supreme power or authority: ‘the sovereignty of Parliament’,” Indigenous sovereignty views power to the people and their land as indivisible: “Our sovereignty is based on our spiritual relation with Mother Earth, whom we recognize as a point of meeting with the 36 supreme creator and the source of life” (Karakras). This Latin American articulation of Indigenous sovereignty, by Shuar leader Ampam Karakras, echoes that of the First Peoples of Turtle Island: “Haudenosaunee political structure may be the oldest continuously operating governmental system in the world and arises out of the consciousness that it is the renewable quality of the earth’s ecosystems that sustains life” (Rickard 469). I investigate how “visual sovereignty” in the films of VNA intervenes in a broader discussion of Indigenous sovereignty and “self-determination,” on and off screen. I do so by demonstrating how this visual sovereignty strategy deconstructs western-centric generated representations of Indigenous peoples and dominant notions of ethnography, film theory, history, and criticism. The idea of representational sovereignty, as defined by Laura R. Graham, “builds on and expands Michelle Raheja’s (2007, 2010) notion of ‘visual sovereignty’” and “avoids privileging the visual mode and honors the importance of sound in Native ideology and practice” (“Toward” 14). Using First Nations’ notions of sovereignty, such as those of Rickard and Karakras as starting points, I apply hemispheric notions of Indigenous sovereignty to the concept of “Abya Yala” (the Panamanian Kuna people use this word for Latin America before the arrival of Columbus).25 The influential Ecuadorian Shuar leader, Ampam Karakras, explains that the Indigenous concept of sovereignty, “we are an indivisible part of the whole,” is distinct from the western world’s concept of sovereignty as it relates to “money, power, and private property” ( “Indigenous Sovereignty”). Sovereignty, as a term, is thus used here in the context of interdependent relationalities to Mother 25 The Bolivian Aymara leader, Takir Mamani, argues for the revived use of the term "Abya Yala"; the use of the term Abya Yala is more and more common in the Latin American context, in particular in relation to Indigenous cinema. 37 Earth within Indigenous self-governance systems. Visual and representational sovereignty at VNA relates to Indigenous-led representations on screen and to the infrastructures and relationships that work to support and create that self-representation. Ailton Krenak, a Brazilian Indigenous leader and scholar, says: “The traditional territory of my people ... This foundation of tradition, as well as the time of contact, is not a commandment or a law that we follow looking back at the past. It is alive like culture is alive. It is alive like any human society is dynamic and alive” (25). Krenak’s statement, in line with Rickard’s conception of “tradition as resistance,” provides a hemispheric consciousness of Indigenous sovereignty while acknowledging the diversity and ever-changing conception of what it means to be Indigenous in all corners of the Americas. I will elaborate my discussion of the relationships between tradition, cinema, video technologies, and Indigenous sovereignty as articulated by such scholars as Rickard, Raheja, Graham, and Krenak, through a theorizing of VNA’s archival body, an analysis of the vision, history, and politics behind VNA, the films of Vincent Carelli, and a rising generation of Brazilian Indigenous filmmakers. This growing trend for Indigenous peoples to employ technologies as a form of storytelling, representation, and political activism, as echoed by Indigenous film scholars like Raheja, promotes an anticolonial gaze, one that counters the racist, sexist stereotypes and misrepresentations of Indigenous peoples in dominant film and media. This exciting and growing Indigenous film and media movement also works to counter the discrimination and oppression within their Nation States. While Raheja discusses visual sovereignty in a North American context, visual sovereignty at VNA also “opens up a practice for reading Native American [and Latin American Indigenous] visual culture that incorporates both Indigenous traditions of community representation and non-Indigenous filmmaking practices” (Reservation 199). Thus, 38 the appropriation of technology for media production by Indigenous agents becomes a conduit for transmitting knowledge and disseminating culture, social consciousness, and social memory, all contributing to notions of “visual sovereignty.” Both Rickard and Raheja evoke the Two Row Wampum Belt Treaty as a visual manifestation of Haudenosaunee sovereignty “their inherent right to retain their geographic, cultural, political, linguistic, and economic sovereignty” (Reservation 199). The material woven belt, represents a “pact based on mutual respect made between the Haudenosaunee and Europeans” that stipulates “that the communities would be allowed to co-exist and recognize each other’s sovereignty, nation to nation” (Raheja Reservation 199). The films at VNA also reflect a philosophy of reciprocity that, beyond a resistance to colonization, creatively expresses Indigenous aesthetics of sovereignty. Visual sovereignty thus transcends cultural revitalization through film and video, although this may be one of its effects; it can be conceived as an open process specific to each film, filmmaker, and group. Therefore, visual sovereignty is a way to creatively (re)imagine non-western paradigms to mediate eco, social, political, and economic relationships with the nation and non-Indigenous others. 1.6 Brief History of Indigenous Media Activism in Brazil The appropriation of communication technologies by Indigenous agents as tools to advocate for Indigenous culture and rights is most famously documented in Brazil in the 1970s with the case of Mário Juruna. Mário Juruna was born in the village of Namakura, in the state of Mato Grosso. He lived in his village without contact with so-called “civilization” until he became the village’s cacique or leader at age seventeen. In the 1970s, before Mário Juruna 39 became the first Indigenous person elected to national office in 1982,26 he gained notoriety for his denunciations of corruption during the military dictatorship.27 While fighting for Indigenous rights and culture at FUNAI in Brasília, Juruna documented with a tape recorder everything that was said to him by government officials. When authorities and government officials failed to keep their promises, Juruna quickly summoned the press and played them back the tapes, thereby exposing some of the blatant political corruption during the military dictatorship era. Under this military regime, when Indigenous voices were rarely heard in the national discourse, indigenism was growing.28 As Alceida Ramos explains, “As an Indian he [Juruna] was somewhat protected by his special status as ‘relatively incapable,’” this status ironically gave Juruna, “greater freedom of speech than that enjoyed by the full Brazilian citizen” (Ramos 105). In time, Juruna’s astute use of media, and the media’s use of photos of Juruna with his tape-recorder, made him a symbol of resistance against the military dictatorship. As stated by Conklin and Graham, “[Te]levision and press photographers seized upon images of a Xavante wielding Western 26 It was not until 2018 that Joênia Wapixana (officially Joênia Batista de Carvalho) became the second Indigenous person (and the first Indigenous woman) to be elected to the Chamber of Deputies since Juruna’s 1982 election. (https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo%C3%AAnia_Wapichana) 27 For a greater discussion of Mário Juruna, and the use of media in Amazonian and Indigenous politics, see Beth A. Conklin and Laura R. Graham’s article, “The Shifting Middle-Ground: Amazonian Indians and Eco-Politics.” 28 For more on the relationship between NGOs and Indigenous peoples during the dictatorship era See Ramos’ Indigenism, 105-106. 40 technology (tape recorder) in theatrical protests and disseminated these images throughout Brazil” (699). Juruna’s strategic self-reflexive performance of Indigeneity for the press was driven by a collective Indigenous desire for self-determination and sovereignty. In effect, Juruna’s skill at garnering media attention for Indigenous rights, and the media’s own exploitation of Juruna’s image as an icon of national opposition to the dictatorship, set an interesting paradigmatic precedent, one which ultimately expanded the terrain for Indigenous advocacy and sovereignty. Conklin and Graham point out how, in this context of Indigenous activism and media: Native activists thus confront a quandary: they can forge alliances with outsiders only by framing their cause in terms that appeal to Western values, but this foreign framework does not necessarily encompass Indigenous communities’ own worldviews and priorities. When Indians’ actions collide with outsiders’ assumptions about them, they run the risk that their images will become tainted, diluting the symbolic meanings on which their international support is based. (700) Although Juruna may be remembered for his commitment to Indigenous peoples, his creative political efforts and strategies,29 his daring bravery, and his mediatized image clutching a tape recorder, it is also important to know that he spent his final years “impoverished, ill, and estranged from his community before dying of diabetes in 2002” (Guzmán 17). Juruna’s 29 Juruna was responsible for advancing democracy during the military dictatorship, for the creation of a permanent commission for Indians, as well as bringing formal recognition to issues related to Brazil’s Indigenous people (see Graham, “Quoting Mario Juruna”). 41 extraordinary story and tragic ending are also entrenched in Brazil’s national power dynamics.30 Graham explains how political rivals and mainstream media spun Juruna’s image and message “180 degrees to turn Juruna’s positive image on its head,” while invoking the tropes of the “colonial Noble Savage narrative” (Graham “Quoting Mario Juruna” 164). On balance, however, Juruna’s courage, media strategy, and legacy were certainly critical in influencing Brazilian politics and in inspiring other Indigenous leaders. Starting in the mid-1980s, media savvy Mebêngôkre (Kayapó) leaders, 31 such as Paulo Payakan, Raoni, and Kube-I, received extensive media attention and coverage by translating Indigenous cultural values into terms that outsiders could understand. Just as Mário Juruna, a Xavante, had done earlier, the Mebêngôkre also “capitalized on indigenous cultural elements such as elaborate body decorations and spectacular dances” (Conklin and Graham 700). More specifically, British rock star Sting’s visit to Mebêngôkre villages, accompanied by photographers from Vogue and People magazines, and the highly-mediatized Altamira 30 For more on Juruna, see Ramos’ Indigenism, pp. 104–118, 140; and Juruna et al.’s O gravador do Juruna. 31 I will use the term Mebêngôkre, which “means people from the water hole place,” instead of the term Kayapó. I have learned at a recent conference (InDigital III, 2019) from a Mebêngôkre man that Mebêngôkre is their preferred name, whereas Kayapó was first used at the start of the nineteenth century and means “those who look like monkeys” (see: https://pib.socioambiental.org/en/Povo:Meb%C3%AAng%C3%B4kre_(Kayap%C3%B3) for more). 42 demonstration in April of 1989, resulted in international media exposure and broad foreign support. That Indigenous resistance has been so highly mediatized is partly due to Terence Turner, the American visual anthropologist who worked with the Mebêngôkre (in conjunction with Vincent Carelli) on what has come to be known as the “Kayapo Video Project.” The project received funding in 1990 from the Spencer Foundation to supply the Mebêngôkre with video cameras, editing studios, and storage space (Turner “Defiant Images” 7). The Mebêngôkre showed the Brazilian government and the world that they knew how to use video technology to protect their lands by gaining international support through media activism. Of interest and importance here is that Turner highlights how internally, within Mebêngôkre communities, “it has been one way that people have promoted their political careers. Several of the current younger chiefs acted as video camerapersons during their rise to chieftainship” (Turner “Defiant images” 7). The connection between filmmakers and status within Indigenous communities is further discussed in future chapters with reference to specific filmmakers. Video as a mediator between Indigenous and non-Indigenous agents and cultures as well as a mediator internally within Indigenous communities speaks to the power of video beyond the screen. Although so much of the mediascape has significantly changed since the 1990s, with the advent of social media, of rapid changes in video technologies, of crowd funding models of production, and of new platforms for media distribution and exhibition, the earlier strategy of Indigenous leaders’ such as Juruna and Raoni remains effective, and effectively set a precedent for celebrities to use their stardom and wealth to raise funds for and awareness of Indigenous issues. A more recent example includes the Oscar winning actor Colin Firth, who in 2012, launched Survival International’s campaign to save the Awá, “Earth’s most threatened tribe,” 43 along with the support of other celebrities such as Hollywood star Gillian Anderson, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Californian rock band Allah-Las (“Celebrities”). As a direct result of this campaign, in 2014 the Brazilian government sent in troops to expel illegal loggers from Awá land, thereby proving the validity of the strategies previously pursued by Raoni and others. This particular strategy of gaining support and raising public awareness about a particular issue affecting Indigenous peoples by relying on solidarity from international stars, is but one strategy that has proven to be effective. VNA’s work, however, is a long-term project that is about creating an alternative archive of Indigenous existence, history, and futurity in order to reshape, reframe, and retell an unfolding story of Indigenous self-representation and sovereignty. The significance, breadth, and scope of VNA’s project extend beyond a mere representation to include what Haraway has called a “political semiotics of articulation” (314). In Haraway’s chapter “The Promise of Monsters” she discusses the slippery politics of representation in the case of the highly-reproduced image of the Mebêngôkre man with a video camera in North American magazines, saying “The National Geographic Society, Discover magazine, and Gulf Oil—and much philosophy and social science—would have us see his practice as a double boundary crossing between the primitive and the modern” (314). Haraway argues for a more subtle reading of the image that gives agency to all actors in the image: “the man might well be forging a recent collective of humans and unhumans, in this case made up of the Kayapó, videocams, land, plants, animals, near and distant audiences, and other constituents; but no boundary violation is involved” (314). Her reading thus goes beyond a binary of the “modern” and “primitive” that is exploited and commercialized in the reproduction of this image. The camera as an entity absorbed into a larger eco-system, is also articulated by VNA filmmakers and embodied in their camera work. 44 According to Turner’s observations of the Mebêngôkre people’s adoption of technology, the latter engaged with video-making “as an integral part in this process of historical political and cultural consciousness-raising” (“The Social Dynamics” 69). Turner explains how the Mebêngôkre also performed using video technology for western media to signal that western media no longer had the monopoly on their image but also “to be seen and recorded in the act of doing so by the national and international telemedia” (“The Social Dynamics” 70). I argue that video-making continues to be a tool of political activism, of inter-tribal communication and knowledge sharing, of cultural and identitary consciousness and syncretism, as well as a means of creative expression and knowledge production with repercussions both on and off screen. Turner’s discussions of Mebêngôkre’s relationships to video technology in Brazil have been critical to this discussion along with, Erica Cusi Wortham’s discussions of Indigenous video in Mexico, Schiwy’s discussion of Andean video, and Faye Ginsburg’s and Eric Michaels’ discussion and theorizing of Aborigal and Inuit use of media, video, and television in Australia and Canada.32 Unfortunately, a discussion about the Indigenous use of video technologies in Brazil (and throughout Latin America) all too often is narrowly focused on the appropriation of a “foreign” technology as a tool for political activism and “media-orientated politics” (Conklin and Graham 705). For instance, when the Belo Monte Dam was proposed in the 1980s, it was designed to be 32 For more on Erica Cusi Wortham’s discussion on Indigenous media in Mexico see Indigenous Media in Mexico: Culture, Community, and the State. For more on Eric Michaels discussion see Bad Aboriginal Art: Tradition, Media, and Technological Horizons. 45 the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam to date, costing over $10 billion US dollars; the Indigenous fight against that dam continues today in Altamira. For the Indigenous populations living in the Xingu River basin, the three main issues are the displacement of Indigenous peoples who have lived in the area since time immemorial, the nine million hectares of rainforest that will be affected, and the destruction of vast ecosystems. In a letter to Brazil’s then-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (commonly known as Lula, whose term in power was 2003-2011), Mebêngôkre leaders wrote, “We don’t want this dam to destroy the ecosystems and the biodiversity that we have taken care of for millennia and which we can still preserve.” Ailton Krenak is a Brazilian Indigenous leader who gained media attention when he was filmed at the Assembleia Constituinte in 1987, advocating for Indigenous rights with his face painted black with the Jenipapo plant, a plant traditionally used as body paint for Indigenous peoples in Brazil and across South America. In a recent (March 14th, 2017) address to students of social anthropology at the University of Rio Grande do Sul, Krenak said: We are living in a dictatorship situation, and it is prior to the [August 31st 2016] coup, because there is an authoritarian mentality installed in power. Remember the protests against Belo Monte? That was before the coup, but the crowd control squad was there and beat everyone up, the tractors came in and the hydro-electric facility was built. (Leuck; my trans.) These Indigenous eco-politics continue to be increasingly urgent in Brazil’s current political landscape: hours after taking office on January 1, 2019, Bolsonaro “launched an assault on environmental and Amazon protections with an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry—which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby” (D. Phillips). In addition, the Bolsonaro government has 46 announced plans to open the Amazon to international mining corporations (D. Phillips). Considering the contemporary political context, with its arguably illegitimate authoritarian leaders corporate pandering and fear mongering, (first Temer, now Bolsonaro in Brazil and Trump in the US), this 2011 statement (by Haudenosaunee scholar, Jolene Rickard), underscores Krenak’s claim that: “the law of Indigenous peoples … is not anchored in Western legal systems but represents philosophical principles that transcend the colonial mythology of a hegemonic authoritarian state” (470). My analysis of VNA’s filmography investigates how Indigenous sovereignties and cosmologies are expressed visually, acoustically, representationally, and cinematically. The key point here, highlighted by the example of the Belo Monte dam, is that both Krenak and Rickard argue for a sovereignty that is based on philosophies which predate colonization and colonization’s legacies, currently embedded in nationalized legal structures across the Americas. VNA’s filmography bears witness to the diversity of cosmologies still present and practiced by diverse Indigenous groups. For instance, in the Kuikuro film Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004) directed by Takumã Kuikuro and Maricá Kuikuro, we see the community maximize the lunar eclipse to solicit the shaman’s services and cures, as well as the shaman’s knowledge based on astrology. Certainly, film and video can and do play an important role in political, cultural, and social resistance and in fostering local, national, and international awareness and solidarity, yet there is an unfortunate, widespread tendency by many to downplay the creative and philosophical engagement with the cinematic form by Brazilian Indigenous agents who have become filmmakers and knowledge producers in their own right. 47 1.7 Brief History of VNA Since 1986 VNA has created an original archive of films about and by Indigenous (and by non-Indigenous) peoples in Brazil. The collection comprises more than ninety films and a number of television programs that have aired and premiered internationally at film festivals and movie theatres. VNA’s work has also been introduced in educational contexts as part of elementary and high school curricula. In addition, VNA premiered in the art world with its display during the São Paulo Biennial 2016. At the latter event, VNA highlighted its extensive archive of footage from the last three decades. Using three screens to simultaneously project three sets of works from different ethnic groups and time periods, they provided audiences with a sense of the vast diversity of the Indigenous groups represented, the different registers of images, the distinct cinematic styles, the different video technologies used over the course of the last three decades, and the breadth of the archive (see Figure 1-1). Figure 1-1 Installation view of São Paulo Biennial taken by the author. 48 VNA is an innovative project that was founded by the Franco-Brazilian activist filmmaker Vincent Carelli in 1986, subsequent to the State abuse, paternalism, and authoritarianism he witnessed when working at the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) (in Carelli et al. 46). It’s important to note the significant role of Virgínia Valadão (1952-1998) in the forming of VNA; Valadão was an anthropologist, filmmaker, Carelli’s wife, partner, mother of their two children (Rita and Pedro), and co-founder of the CTI Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (Indigenous Labor Center, widely known as the CTI). VNA emerged out of Carelli’s earlier work with Valadão at the CTI, an organization co-founded in 1979 with other anthropologists and activists, Giberto Azanha, Maria Elisa Ladeira, advocating for Indigenous rights (Pollo Müller 238). The CTI continues to collaborate with Indigenous groups to support their rights, struggles, needs, and initiatives.33 FUNAI was established in 1967 under law no. 5.371; it is important to note that it is the primary Brazilian government agency tasked with protecting and demarcating Indigenous territories, cultures, and interests, and that its institutional mission is to protect and promote the rights of Indigenous people in Brazil (FUNAI). Despite this mission, FUNAI, along with its institutional predecessor, the Indian Protection Service (SPI), which ran from 1910 to 1967, has had conflictual and damaging rapports with and impacts on Indigenous peoples, their livelihoods, and their lands. According to an article (May 29, 2017) in the New York Times, the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Brazil did not end with the arrival of the Portuguese, nor with the diseases imported from Europe which wiped out vast Indigenous populations during this first period of contact over five hundred years ago. The article states that “over the past century, tens of 33 For more on the CTI, see their website: http://trabalhoindigenista.org.br/home/. 49 thousands of indigenous people have been victims of rape, torture and mass murder, perpetrated with the help of a governmental agency, the Indian Protection Service” (Barbara, “The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians”). I will discuss in more detail the ongoing history and production of colonization since contact in Chapter 5, as part of my analysis of Carelli’s film Martírio. Historically, the SPI’s abuses were exposed in a detailed report, the Figuereido report (“‘Lost’ Report”). The Figueiredo Report is a 7000-page investigative report by public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, published in 1967, detailing horrific crimes including mass murder, enslavement, bacterial warfare, sexual abuse, land theft, etc., of the SPI against the Indigenous peoples of Brazil (“‘Lost’ Report”). In effect, the report was so damning that the Indian Protection Service was disbanded after it came out and revealed the SPI’s illegal activities, mostly related to “falsely appropriating land, misusing funds or illegally selling cattle or timber to enrich themselves at the expense of the communities they were supposed to be protecting” (Watts and Rocha). The criminal history of the SPI certainly sheds light on the current conditions of Indigenous peoples and on current government policies, making VNA’s project even more vitally important in terms of exposing and dispelling false official narratives.34 It also fosters a cinematic culture originating from Indigenous and Indigenized perspectives. Under FUNAI, Indigenous peoples in Brazil today continue to struggle against illegal loggers, miners, government dams, and ranchers. According to a series of local and international news 34 See my discussion of the film Tava, The House of Stone (2012) dir. Carelli, Carvalho, Ferreira, Duarte Ortega in Chapter 4, which exposes false historical narratives surrounding the history of the Mbya Guarani and the seventeenth century Jesuit missions in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. 50 sources,35 Indigenous people have suffered a spike in invasions and violent attacks on their lands under Bolsonaro, the newly elected president who ran on a vehemently anti-Indigenous campaign. To date, Bolsonaro’s regime has actively worked to dismantle FUNAI (Jazeera)36; moreover, Amazon Watch has reported that “Indigenous leaders and their allies speak of a general abandonment of state protections over indigenous lands, as Bolsonaro's dangerous rhetoric emboldens a range of criminal forces—from illegal loggers and miners to land grabbers and speculators—to act with apparent impunity” (Poirier). Carelli’s vision and VNA’s mission “to support the Indigenous peoples’ struggle in order to strengthen identities and territorial and cultural heritages, through audiovisual resources” (Video Nas Aldeias) have been a means to resist the State’s, the SPI’s, and FUNAI’s paternalism and ongoing, damaging impacts. By giving Indigenous peoples access to audio-visual tools and training and by creating a distribution network, VNA launched a new generation of Indigenous filmmakers. Carelli articulates VNA’s initial 1994 working methodology as consisting of a group of non-Indigenous filmmakers going into an Indigenous village with video equipment. The community would suggest themes to be filmed and then would gather to watch the filmed footage. According to Carelli, The basic proposal of the Video in the Villages project was firstly to bring the Indians a whole set of information through video—mainly about other [Indigenous] groups—so that they could compare situations of contact. We also wanted to make manipulating their 35 See, for instance The Intercept’s “Jair Bolsonaro Praised the Genocide of Indigenous People. Now He’s Emboldening Attackers of Brazil’s Amazonian Communities” (February 16, 2019). 36 FUNAI was dismantled at the time of writing, however, FUNAI has been reinstated after much protest and political action albeit with severe budget cuts. 51 image accessible by teaching them how video works, so they could start producing their own images. This is the most important dimension of the project, more important than the informative one. The ability to produce and view, redo and re-record is fantastic. (Qtd. in Monte-Mór and Parente 33; my trans.) This initial approach was critical for VNA’s subsequent work as they developed their methodology collaborating with Indigenous groups. Looking back at the origins of VNA, it is important to note the interconnections of this project with Brazilian film and video history; in terms of the evolution of film and video technologies, VNA’s archive is highly relevant. More specifically, the adoption of video technology in Brazil late in the 1960s, after Japanese electronics companies started selling this technology there (A. Machado 225), resulted in Brazil becoming a video pioneer. Due to video’s affordability and Brazil’s status as a television-centered nation (A. Machado 225), diverse independent groups quickly adopted video technologies for their own cultural, political, and artistic agendas. Brazil’s status as a television nation reflects a period of economic growth known as the “Brazilian Miracle,” (Davis) which occurred under the military dictatorship. While the government used television to broadcast and promote its ideological agenda to the far corners of Brazil, artists and non-profit groups, such as VNA, also capitalized on this affordable technology to pursue their political and cultural agendas through video production. Each emphasized the ideas of progress, and television as a symbol of progress, in a largely non-literate nation. 52 Carelli explains how, in the 1970s, the experimental filmmaker Andrea Tonacci (1944-2016), associated with cinema marginal,37 sought out the CTI with a proposal for a project he called “Inter-Povos” (Between Peoples), with the idea of creating inter-tribal dialogue and communication between diverse Indigenous groups through the use of video (qtd. in Carelli et al. 46). However, according to Carelli, in the 1970s video as a viable technology was still in its nascent stages in Brazil; as a result, Tonacci’s proposed project did not come to fruition at that time. Yet, after seventeen years of co-existing with Indigenous peoples and fighting for Indigenous rights, when portable VHS camcorders became more widely accessible, Carelli explains, “I decided to take up [Tonacci’s] idea, and that’s how VNA started” (Carelli et al. 46). Technical access to and ease of using video technology in 1980s Brazil, combined with Carelli’s early adoption of this medium, mark the beginning of VNA’s archival footage, which would appear in later films. In 1986, the year after the 1964-1985 military dictatorship in Brazil came to an end, Carelli carried out an experiment while working at the CTI. Using the readily available image capabilities of video technology, he filmed the Nambiquara community in the north of Mato Grosso and was immediately able to show them the footage. The act of the Nambiquara community collectively seeing themselves on a screen for the first time generated a collective mobilization: they saw the possibility of being active participants in the creation of their own 37 Cinema Marginal emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s as a more radical and experimental response to cinema novo with such films as The Red Light Bandit (1968) by Rogério Sganzerla, Killed the Family and Went to the Movies (1969) by Julio Bressane, and Bang-Bang (1971) by Andrea Tonacci. 53 images. The Nambiquara chief, Pedro Mãmåindê, decided to become involved in the filming process, essentially triggering more direct Indigenous participation (Carelli et al. 46). This was a pivotal moment for Carelli, who realized the power of video allied to the power of a collective image to foster active participation: The act of seeing one’s own image generates, in any community including in an Indigenous community, a super interesting dynamic. It enables the group to reflect on the image they made of themselves and the image they would like to have of themselves, both within and outside the community. . . . It [VNA] is training young Indigenous filmmakers with a production basically destined to the internal consumption of the communities. (Qtd. in Monte-Mór, Parente 33; my trans.) VNA then started making films with Indigenous participation; after ten years of working with this methodology, VNA entered a new phase, eventually becoming a film school for Indigenous filmmakers. The first professionalizing video workshops to train a future generation of Indigenous filmmakers took place in 1997 in the Xavante de Sangradouro village in the Mato Grosso region. As articulated by Carelli, “It wasn’t about coming ‘with a camera in hand and an idea in mind’ but a camera in hand and an open mind for feedback from the villages…”38 38 This quote is a direct reference to the Cinema Novo filmmakers in Brazil, a film movement which arose in the 60s and 70s known for its opposition to Hollywood’s doctrines, an emphasis on social justice, equality, and intellectualism, as well as conceiving film as a political instrument. Carelli makes direct reference to Cinema Novo’s most renowned filmmaker, Glauber Rocha’s, famous quote: “camera in hand, idea in mind,” which reflected the lighter weight 54 (Carelli et al. 46). VNA, as a political and cinematic project, requires an analysis that is rooted in Brazil’s interconnected political and cinematic history, a filmic trajectory that bears witness to and strengthens the struggle of Indigenous peoples in the face of colonial state violence. An enduring example of this violence is the ongoing murder of Indigenous peoples and land activists. According to a report from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health, 833 Indigenous people have been murdered since 2007 (Barbara). Under Michel Temer’s government and his strong ties to a powerful agribusiness lobby (including his naming of Osmar Serraglio, a prominent member of the agribusiness caucus, as Minister of Justice, as well as Temer’s appointment of military generals to FUNAI), the Indigenous struggle in Brazil became radicalized, marked by ongoing protests and growing resistance movements. Temer also made huge monetary cuts, over 40%, to both the environment ministry and FUNAI. A recent news story about ten murdered Indigenous people (nine men and one woman), who were in an agrarian conflict with Civil and Military Police in the state of Pará, is but one example of State violence against Indigenous people in Brazil under Temer’s short term as President. Now, under president Bolsonaro, more violent assaults against Indigenous people have been reported (C. Poirier). Critically, the politicization of VNA’s films, (notably Carelli’s most recent films, a trilogy in the making, with Corumbiara (2009) and Martírio (2016) so-far completed), bear witness to this ongoing State-sanctioned violence. Indeed, Martírio is Carelli’s most militant and powerful denunciation of State violence, impunity, and national amnesia. The film methodically exposes the grim history of the State’s relationship to Indigenous peoples in Brazil. Both of the above- cameras and the impulse of Cinema Novo filmmakers to go out and film a contemporary reality, in opposition to Hollywood studio productions. 55 mentioned films draw from Carelli’s extensive career fighting for Indigenous rights and from VNA’s vast archive of footage spanning the last three decades. Martírio’s success on the festival circuit and recent distribution deals are maximizing the capacity of VNA’s small staff and resources. In my conversations with Carelli, he spoke of the precariousness of future funding for VNA, and of his current focus on filmmaking, indicating yet another shift and new phase for the organization as VNA moves into its fourth decade (Personal interview). Discussions have arisen about other members of the organization taking over the leadership of VNA, a position Carelli has held since VNA’s inception in 1986. Another important issue for VNA is the preservation of its archive and securing funding to digitize the extensive amount of films and footage in its collection. 1.8 VNA as a Case Study A number of anthropologists, communication and film scholars, film critics and filmmakers (Carlos Fausto, Ruben Caixete de Queiroz, André Brasil, Eduardo Escorel, Andrea França, Jean Claude Bernadet, Eduardo Coutinho, Pat Aufderheide, Faye Ginsburg, Laura R. Graham, Amalia Córdova, and Zoe Graham), primarily in Brazil and in the United States, have been an integral part of an invigorating, scholarly, well-informed, and in-depth discussion on Indigenous media, including VNA and its films, along with Indigenous leaders, filmmakers, and filmmaking groups (Ailton Krenak, Isaac Pinhanta, Instituto Catitu). An important body of literature, scholarly articles, master’s and doctoral theses and dissertations (mostly in Brazil), has emerged over the last three decades, primarily involving work done in the disciplines of anthropology and communications to investigate the Video in the Villages project. Some texts in the fields of cultural studies and development studies, in English and in Portuguese, have 56 emerged in response to VNA’s work; however, a plethora of anthropological texts dominates the literature on VNA, just as anthropologists dominate the discussion concerning Indigenous media. Significantly, much discussion of ethnographic film over the last two decades, by Brazilian and American anthropologists alike, examines the purposes and heterogeneity (Monte-Mór and Parente 33) of ethnographic film versus visual anthropology (Aufderheide, “You see” 27) in relation to Indigenous media and VNA’s productions. This work exemplifies how VNA’s films stretch the boundaries of ethnographic filmmaking by complicating the conventions of ethnographic film as “a look from outside a culture, giving the audience a glimpse inside it” (Aufderheide, “You See” 27). Certainly, ethnographic film has evolved in interesting ways; notably, innovation and experimentation have come from such filmmakers as the French anthropologist Jean Rouch (Moi, un noir (1958), Chronique d’un été (1961)), and his “ciné-transe.” Rouch’s collaborative, reflective approach to cinema consciously sought to go beyond scientific voyeurism, thereby changing film studies and the ethnographic film forever. In fact, the Ateliers Varan, headquartered in Paris, is the legacy of Jean Rouch and his documentary filmmaking practices; in turn the Ateliers Varan influenced VNA’s methodological approach, particularly during the years (approximately 1997-2007) when VNA was training Indigenous filmmakers. To illustrate, in an interview I conducted with Mari Corrêa, a former VNA co-director and filmmaker from 1998-2007, she explained how she was trained as a filmmaker at the Ateliers Varan and how she subsequently used this methodology, which trained her to learn how to “read and write with images and sounds”,39 at VNA (Personal interview). 39 Phrasing cited from the Ateliers Varan website: http://www.ateliersvaran.com/english/spip.php?article25 57 An important text by Carelli, titled “Moi, un indien” (2004) in reference to Rouch’s famous film, Moi, un noir (1958), chronicles Carelli’s unique life trajectory and history with Brazil’s Indigenous peoples when he was adopted at the age of sixteen by the Xikrin in the south of Pará. His militancy and activism are the results of these formative experiences in Pará, where he lived for a number of years as a member of the Xikrin tribe. In this text, Carelli explains how his activism then further developed over the years with his work at the CTI, and how the camera was offered to Indigenous groups as an instrument that would allow them access to their own images, as well as a tool to elaborate and recreate these images (Carelli et al. 2). In this way, the camera was not “a transparent object,” but rather became another actor on the scene (Carelli et al. 2). Laura R. Graham’s research on the Xavante of Central Brazil and her examination of the politics of Indigenous representation reaching a broader public have provided important context and a meaningful discussion on “the shift that has taken place over the last 25 years in the A’uwẽ-Xavante peoples’ use of audio-visual media to achieve greater representational sovereignty” (Graham and Penny 13). Regarding achieving a broader public and Indigenous representation, when it comes to Indigenous cinema and the films of VNA in the current global film distribution system, the ambitious and utopic desire to eliminate the gatekeepers of the film circuit in favour of direct distribution is evident and is an issue of great interest in any broader discussion of Indigenous media. In South America, many Indigenous communities are marginalized by mainstream cultural practices, even though their history has been coopted and used to form national myths, heritages, and histories. Arguably, the vastly diverse expressions of Indigenous cinemas as part of a wider arena of cinematic culture are vital to an in-depth and complex picture of Brazilian Indigenous cinematic culture, including the potential for self-determination and sovereignty through self-representation. 58 Of relevance here is Graham and Penny’s analysis of what it means to “perform Indigeneity”; they articulate how “public and individual subjects continually interact to shape emergent Indigenous identities in public arenas and intimate spaces” (4). In effect, Indigenous cinemas function as performative arenas “in which Indigenous Peoples engage broader publics and other interested parties (…) and attempt to get their versions of history and regime[s] of value acknowledged and disseminated to wider audiences” (Graham and Penny 4). With a genealogy of Indigenous film and video in Latin America and its political position in the Indigenous struggle for self-determination, Amalia Córdova and Juan Francisco Salazar’s chapter, “Imperfect Media and the Poetics of Indigenous Video in Latin America” (2008), provides an excellent overview and makes an important connection between Third Cinema (see Section 1.7) and the “deep rooted cultural aesthetics” or “poetics of Indigenous media” (Córdova and Salazar 40). Certainly, Córdova and Salazar’s text on “Imperfect Media” has been relevant to my framing of VNA’s cinematic works, as discussed and referenced in future chapters. Moreover, Freya Schiwy’s book, Indianizing Film: Decolonizing the Andes, and the Question of Technology, with her focus on Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia, has also been an important source on knowledge production, and on decolonial and anticolonial frameworks in Latin American Indigenous media. Although anthropological texts comprise the majority of the literature on VNA, much less has been written in English about VNA from a film studies perspective.40 My interdisciplinary 40 Of note for futher reading on this topic is the book Documentary Filmmaking in Contemporary Brazil: Cinematic Archives of the Present, by Brazilian film scholar Gustavo Procopio Furtado, which came out in January 2019 and includes some discussion of VNA and selected films. 59 study of VNA, as an archive and as an organization, centres on VNA’s cinematic content and interrelated aesthetic-cosmological-geographic-social-historical and political contexts through an analysis of VNA’s films in all their diversity (as craft, culture, art, ritual, healing, philosophy, community, politics, performance, cosmology and spirituality). More specifically, my film analyses and conceptual framework engage with what Michelle H. Raheja, a Native American literature and film scholar of Seneca descent, has termed “visual sovereignty.” Raheja explains that visual sovereignty is a form of resistance to ethnographic film conventions that “stretch[es] the boundaries created by these conventions” (“Reading” 1161). In this sense, visual sovereignty is part of a larger project to dismantle and question the legacy and aftershocks of colonialism, while envisioning contemporary Indigenous identities and redefining film history and theory from an Indigenous frame of reference. To date, there are no studies correlating Indigenous production in Latin America to Fourth Cinema,41 or to visual/ representational sovereignty (Raheja; Graham), as part of what Faye Ginsburg (1994) has productively called an “embedded aesthetics” that “draw attention to a system of evaluation that refuses separation of textual production and circulation from broader arenas of social relations” (“Embedded” 368). The distinct social, cultural, and political processes that each filmmaker and filmmaking collective experiences in the production of their filmic object, as well as the complex mediations that each film undergoes as it is viewed by multiple audiences in 41 Fourth World Cinema or Indigenous Cinema comes as a late addition to First, Second, and Third Cinema. The term “Fourth Cinema” was first coined by the Māori filmmaker, Barry Barclay, as explained in 1.7.1. 60 different contexts, are part of the filmmakers’ and films’ engagement with inherently intricate cultural boundaries. Kristin L. Dowell’s ethnographic study, Sovereign Screens: Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast (2013) takes up some of Ginsburg’s concepts as articulated in the latter’s study of Aboriginal media in Australia (1994) and her definition of “embedded aesthetics” to describe some of the complex cultural mediations, social relationships, and “possibilities and connections with others that Indigenous media opens up at various levels of scale, from within and across local communities to global partnerships and collaborations” (Graham & Penny 15). Dowell provides an in-depth discussion of Vancouver’s Indigenous media community and the various mediations that take place on and off screen as part of building sovereign relations within the Indigenous media arts community. While Indigenous media has gained increasing attention and prominence around the world, and while there are numerous ethnographically informed analyses of Indigenous uses of audio-visual technologies that shift attention away from the cinematic texts themselves, VNA’s dynamic cinematic output has received relatively little in-depth scholarly attention in film studies. My interdisciplinary investigation addresses how the above Indigenous media participate in transforming dominant notions of cinema, media, representation, and politics while critically calling into question the current western cinematic canon and its exclusion of entire cinematic bodies, such as Indigenous cinemas in Brazil. 42 Certainly, Brazilian Indigenous films, and even 42 By cinematic body, I refer to an entire cinematic universe and object of study, such as, for instance, cult cinema. 61 Latin American films, are entire film continents ignored by Alain Badiou, 43 the French philosopher, in his writings on cinema; nonetheless, Badiou’s view of cinema, namely “that [cinema] renders human presence visible, which testifies in no uncertain terms to human freedom” (7), articulates a vital truth about VNA’s cinematic project. It does so by validating histories, values, cosmologies, and ontologies specific to the Indigenous groups represented in VNA’s films, while destabilizing hegemonic stereotypes that circulate in dominant media and without simplifying or essentializing Indigenous identities. From a film philosophy perspective, I cite Badiou in dialogue with Gilles Deleuze’s writings on cinema,44 as they engage with cinema’s relationship to thought. Indeed, Badiou asked a fundamental philosophical question in an interview in Cahiers du Cinema in 1998: “What does cinema think that nothing but it can think?” I propose taking this contemporary European philosopher’s question about cinema and inserting it into a Brazilian Indigenous context by conceiving of VNA’s archive as a resource for thought, for feeling, for understanding. As such, we can conceive of film as an ontological art (Badiou). If we conceive of a film as an independent being with thoughts and feelings, we can then ask: do specific films and bodies of films have a specific way of thinking and feeling? And if so, what is that way of thinking and feeling and how does a new idea in cinema shift our understanding, our orientation, and our 43 Badiou talks about his “discovery of entire continents of cinema, the great silent films, for example” (3). 44 See Deleuze’s Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinéma 2: The Time Image (translated from the French). 62 education of cinema and the world?45 I elaborate an argument about VNA’s archive as an immersive,46 cosmopolitical technology that challenges western modernities while contributing to knowledge production. I recontextualize “immersiveness” through the example of VNA as a non-western epistemological modernity that engages a decolonial reading of the archive. From Abya Yala’s geo-political vantage point, through indigenized knowledge production VNA’s archive becomes a sovereign arena, a village, a universe of possibility in decolonizing imaginaries. As articulated by Rauna Kuokkanen, the Sami scholar: “a change in the ‘real’ is impossible without a simultaneous change in the ‘imaginary’” (4). Consequently, the archive, as a decolonial, albeit imperfect technology, is significant in its potential for reshaping Brazil’s national discourse and historically fraught relationship to Indigenous peoples. Not unlike Brazil’s mestizo and hybrid population, VNA’s films can be seen as hybridized cultural objects: they intersect with a diversity of social, geographical, political, historical contexts; they reveal multiple influences (televisual, cinematic, cultural, spiritual, 45 For an informed and accessible discussion of Badiou’s ideas on cinema see Nico Baumbach’s blog post and essay: “Philosophy’s Film: On Alain Badiou’s ‘Cinema’” at: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/philosophys-film-on-alain-badious-cinema/ 46 I use the term immersive to counter the dominant use of the term “immersive technology” as relating to wider fields of view, surround sounds, stereoscopic and 360 degree visuals, virtual environments, augmented reality, and the gaming industry. I propose a rethinking of immersive technology from an Indigenous subject position. As a non-Indigenous person, I propose an entry into decolonizing a relationship to Indigeneity through these cinematic texts, thus suggesting the potential of VNA’s archive as an immersive technology. 63 traditional, new, young, old); and they are often co-created with Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers. As such, VNA’s films highlight various ways in which Indigenous identities are multi-vocal and are constantly in the process of being (re)made and transformed. In this way, by analyzing and demonstrating how specific films from VNA’s archive constitute heterogeneous dialogic processes (both internal and external), I point to how VNA’s films contribute to a larger cinematic culture and how the films, as cinematic texts, as cinematic bodies, interact and intersect in complex ways with existing cinematic regimes and ideologies. More specifically, I look at how Indigenous filmmakers view their own work and how their work is viewed as it passes through complex “circuits of culture”,47 forms part of these interactions and intersections. I draw from a sample of films from VNA’s archive of approximately ninety films, along with an existing bibliography and first-hand interviews, to analyze the films, thematic tendencies, and the social, cosmological, and cinematic contexts in which they were created. Thematically, VNA’s archive could be categorized into four types of films: First, politically militant films like Vincent Carelli’s recent works; second, films that affirm Indigenous culture through the documentation of ceremonies and rituals (as seen in the Xavante filmmaker Divino Tserewahú’s filmography); third, films of numerous filmmakers across diverse ethnicities that practice and perform daily life as expressed in the Ashaninka filmography with such films as A Village Called Apiwtxa (2010) or the Waimiri Atroari film Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village 47 Used in cultural studies, the “circuit of culture” framework looks at such aspects as representation, identity, production, consumption, and regulation. See Himpele; also see Du Gay et al. (1997) and Gerard Goggin (2006). 64 (2003); fourth, films from the Mbya-Guarani film collective that combine political militancy, spirituality, and daily life. My analyses examine the fluid and not-so-fluid processes that inform the films, their makers, their futures, and their legacies. The archive is comprised of films from numerous ethnicities, collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers, films by individuals and collectives, and films that span vast geographies and time periods across Brazil (1986–present). As such, the breadth of the archive makes it heterogenous; it intersects with diverse individuals and collectivities across time and space. However, it is cohesive as a comprehensive decolonial technology that addresses Indigeneity, history, nation, race, racialization, gender, resilience, and futurity. 65 Chapter 2: Indigenous Cinemas: Cosmopolitical Technologies and Performances Ceremony and ritual, the spiritual and the social, and the practice and performance of daily life in the villages are constituent elements of cosmopolitical visions and enactments. The goal of this chapter is to discuss the history and evolution of VNA as a pedagogical project, and also to show the diversity of Indigenous cinemas in Brazil. Analyses of films that consider the cosmopolitical as a thematic thread throughout VNA’s filmography will serve to identify other thematic categories relevant to the multi-vocal nature of the films and filmmakers introduced so far. I argue that film and video, as cosmopolitical technologies, can unsettle established conceptions of Indigenous cinemas, politics, and representation by looking at two films: the Xavante film Pi’õnhitsi, Unnamed Xavante Women (56 mins.) (2009), co-directed by Divino Tserewahú and Tiago Campos Torres, and the Kuikuro film Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (28 mins.) (2004), co-directed by Takumã Kuikuro and Maricá Kuikuro. These films illustrate the hybrid nature of Indigenous cinema and the various negotiations that occur within and beyond Indigenous villages, including the interactions of film crews, with tribal, and cinematic networks. 2.1 Locating the Cosmopolitical in VNA’s Filmography Krenak makes the following statement: The original people of the forest are Indigenous people. Our tribes are our people that have always lived in the forest, even the people who don’t live in regions that are large forested areas such as the Amazon, the people of the cerrados, or the people from the regions of 66 capoeira, are people of the forest, of the bush. It is the culture of our people, it is a culture that has an economy, that has a whole organization from what nature offers, from what nature offers to humans. (52) In an interview with Beto Ricardo and André Villas Boas in May of 1989, Krenak expressed the indivisible relationship between Brazil’s Indigenous people and their lands. He goes on to explain how over the last five hundred years, different people have come into these Indigenous territories and built an economy and culture of extractivism completely at odds with Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies (Krenak 52). In Brazil, in Latin America, and on a global scale, Indigenous media, mobilizations and movements have drawn attention to expansion of extractive industries, particularly mining and agro-industrial enterprises and their infringement on Indigenous territories, on Indigenous rights, and on the rights of other-than-human beings, (animals, spirits, oceans, mountains, rivers, trees, plants, and even technology) or the “Rights of Nature.”48 Briefly, the concept of the Rights of Nature recognizes that nature has legal rights to protection based on a holistic understanding that all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined. Issued in 2008, the new Ecuadorian Constitution is one of the more visible examples of these cosmopolitical processes. An article written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous politicians states: “Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution” (qtd. in de la Cadena, “Indigenous Cosmopolitics”). In 2010, Bolivia also issued a Declaration of the 48 See Ayma et al. for an in-depth understanding of the “Rights of Nature” and related issues, with writings by over thirty Indigenous and non-Indigenous earth activists. 67 Rights of Mother Earth, recognizing it as a living being. Article 1:2 of “The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” (April 22, 2010) asserts: “Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings” (2). In the Brazilian context, for the first time in history the River Doce, as a legal subject represented by the Pachamama association, is going to court to request protection from future disasters. This monumental move was precipitated by the 2015 disaster in the state of Minas Gerais, where sixty million cubic meters of iron waste flowed into the River Doce, causing flooding and at least seventeen deaths. On November 5th 2015, the Rio Doce disaster was the result of a catastrophic failure of the Bento Rodrigues dam, an iron ore tailings dam in Bento Rodrigues, a sub-district of Mariana, Brazil (Lopes). The dam is the property of Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton. An online article detailing this case explains: “The lawsuit was filed against the Federal Government and the Government of Minas Gerais and calls for a Disaster Prevention Plan to protect the entire population of the Rio Doce basin”49 49 On January 25, 2019 (since the writing of this chapter), another dam in Minas Gerais, just east of the town of Brumadinho, also experienced a catastrophic failure that environmental experts claim could have been avoided (see: www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/brazil-brumadinho-mine-tailings-dam-disaster-could-have-been-avoided-say-environmentalists/). Owned by the same company which was involved in the Mariana dam disaster, Vale S.A (formerly Companhia Vale do Rio Doce or Sweet River Valley company), the “world’s number one producer of iron ore” (Senra), is responsible for a tidal wave of toxic sludge over the town of Brumadinho. More than three hundred people are reported missing or confirmed dead to date, with countless animals dead and missing and homes destroyed (Senra). 68 (Lopes). This legal action on the part of the Pachamama association is linked to a paradigmatic shift in constitutional processes that started in neighbouring Latin American countries, (Ecuador (2008) and Bolivia (2012)), giving legal agency to nature. Further, in 2017 in Colombia, in a case closer to Brazil’s legislative context, the River Atrato, which was a victim to mining, gained legal rights (Ebus). The River Doce, according to the Krenak people living on its margins, is considered “Uatú Júpú”, a living entity and a “mother river” (Bieber 128). This shift from an anthropocentric conception of nature as a resource for human exploitation is being contested for the first time in Brazil on a judicial scale. The lawyer cited in Lopes’ article explains that the Brazilian Constitution does not yet recognize the rights of nature, “but there are several international treaties signed by Brazil that were used so that the River Doce could bring the law suit to court. The first time a river had its recognized rights in the world was in Ecuador in March of 2011” (qtd. in Lopes). In a 2016 interview, Ailton Krenak, whose traditional territory includes the River Doce, discusses the history of the river and its significance for the Krenak: The River Doce, Watu, can be thought of as a place where, in the first half of the twentieth century, until the 1920s, the Krenak still lived with the innocence of having a sacred river, loaded with meaning, and symbols, where the water spirits interacted with the people - from which the families were sure they could get food and medicine. (Qtd. in Senlle et al.) 69 This statement by Krenak reinforces his ideas on the interconnected nature of Indigenous economies and organization, arising from a relationship to the land, rivers, and oceans; it also illustrates the interconnected relationships between biodiversity and culture. Concurrently with recent allegations against extractive industries by Indigenous people based in age-old Indigenous claims and philosophies, a series of theoretical proposals that critically interrogate the divide between nature and culture has emerged over the last few decades in the fields of history, anthropology, sociology, science, and philosophy. According to these proposals, “the divide reflects a specifically Euro-modern epistemic regime, the result of an equally specific distribution of ontological differences in the world” (De la Cadena 1). The cosmopolitics in VNA’s filmography reframes the nature/culture divide and embodies an ontological politics enacted and embedded in the films discussed in this chapter. A conceptual political proposal, based in an Indigenous centered cosmos and its politics, (defined as a cosmopolitics), traverses the above filmography. It simultaneously acknowledges the diversity and wealth of cultures, histories, territories, languages, geographies, worlds, and cosmovisions specific to each of the forty Indigenous groups represented. The concept of cosmopolitics is elaborated here from an Indigenous “perspectivism,” in regards to which Eduardo Viveiros De Castro outlines how “classical categories of ‘nature’, ‘culture’ and ‘supernature’” are redefined from an Amerindian perspective (469). Thus, from an Indigenous subject position (as articulated by Viveiros De Castro) founded on “the mutual implication of the unity of nature and the plurality of cultures… a spiritual unity and a corporeal diversity” (471), the cosmopolitical and political are seen in relation to how humans and other-than-humans, see and relate to each other. Sylvie Poirier situates cosmopolitics, “in the metaphysical sense of the politics of the cosmos” 70 (76). One aspect of this human and other-than-human interdependence is illustrated by relationships with non-Indigenous filmmakers, agents, and technologies. Patricia Ferreira, a VNA-trained filmmaker and part of the Mbya Guarani Cinema Collective, whom I interviewed in December 2016 in Olinda, explains how she and her fellow Mbya filmmakers think of the camera itself as a Guarani person. By personifying the camera and reconceiving it as a Guarani entity, the filmmakers imbue it with sovereign cultural, spiritual, and social potential. To follow this logic, video technology as perceived by Mbya Guarani, understands the filmmaking process as holistic, interconnected to community, nature and the cosmos. The electronic video signal of video not only informs a way of observing and interpreting the world, but is itself absorbed and Indigenized. These filmmakers are not shooting a subject matter outside of themselves; rather, they are working and creating within a collective, interdependent, and interconnected understanding of their world order which positions video technology as a part of their ecosystem. Andréa França observes, in her essay on VNA, that “…these images create a truly egalitarian cinema, a cinema in which each body–whether the body of the plant, the shell, the cayman, the agouti, the child or the Elder–has the same value as any other: all of them equally different, important and unique” (30). The articulation of an “egalitarian cinema” is expressed through the filmmakers’ subject position; they are part of a collective, interconnected, and interdependent whole. This philosophy renders the traditional production process, with its structure of the director as head of a hierarchy, extraneous in VNA’s process; the same holds true of many other Indigenous production processes in which films are “community authored” (Langton 3). As Faye Ginsburg explains, “with an interest in enlarging analyses of film texts to account for broader contexts of social relations (…) new media forms are seen as a powerful 71 means of (collective) self-expression that can have a culturally revitalizing effect” (“Embedded Aesthetics” 366, 368). They engage the notion of an “embedded aesthetics,” as defined by Ginsburg, that centres on social relations. This idea can be expanded here to include humans and the sentient environment or other-than-human relations in the context of the cosmopolitical. The articulation of a cosmopolitics in VNA’s filmography can thus be understood as part of the counter hegemonic discourses and “modernities of the Non-West” (Shome 70) anchored in Brazil’s geopolitics. Gustavo Lins Ribeiro, a Brazilian anthropologist, succinctly states: “There is not a singular cosmopolitics capable of dealing with the entire complexity of the global counter-hegemonic struggle and with the existence and proliferation of critical subjects in fragmented global-spaces” (4). VNA’s cosmopolitics are specific to the embedded conflicts, histories, interculturalidad (Schiwy), “multinaturalisms” (De Castro), and geopolitics of the knowledge and experience of Brazil’s Indigenous peoples. I propose using this cosmopolitics to expand our reading of VNA’s cinematic texts, as part of an epistemic shift which integrates Indigenous knowledge systems that are already visual-oral systems. As Poirier productively states that “[i]n indigenous socialities, politics and poetics (aesthetics) are intertwined; they cannot be disentangled” (50). Rather than adapting hegemonic regimes of audio-visual literacy, VNA’s filmography is framed here as part of a cosmopolitical (and poetic) project, with the goal of shifting the discourse on what constitutes technologies of knowledge. I use the term “cosmopoetic” as defined by Sylvie Poirier in her article “Reflections on Indigenous Cosmopolitics-Poetics”; she states that, “the political acts of producing and reproducing the diverse social relations between humans and non-humans… always imply forms of art and creativity in the sense that they involve aesthetic and performative aspects” (76). Drawing on Poirier’s discussion as it relates to VNA, the performative act of reproducing relationalities of 72 reciprocity between humans and other than humans on screen will be shown to contain political and aesthetic dimensions. 2.2 Introduction to the History and Evolution of Teaching and Training at VNA The newly-emerging of film festivals (Cine Kurumin) and even biennales (Bienal de Cinema Indígena (2016)) dedicated to Indigenous cinemas in Brazil, as well as audio-visual training programs geared toward Indigenous filmmakers, are relatively recent phenomena that have occurred over the last few decades and go back to VNA’s first organized audiovisual workshop in 1997. Although Indigenous cinema in Brazil is a growing category, it is important to note that it is quite young compared to that of Canada, where the early work of veteran filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin (Abinaki) inaugurated Indigenous cinema in 1971 with Christmas at Moose Factory. Nonetheless, the first generation of filmmakers to emerge from VNA’s initial workshops and training programs, including Takumã Kuikuro, Ariel Duarte Ortega, and Divino Tserewahú, are already VNA veterans in their early thirties and forties. Interestingly, when I had the opportunity to participate in the sixth edition of Cine Kurumin, a Brazilian film festival dedicated to Indigenous cinema, I was able to witness an emergent cinema which has largely not been formulated by western pedagogy, university film programs, or professionalizing film institutes. In fact, Ailton Krenak, one of Brazil’s most influential Indigenous leaders and the founder of the first Biennale of Indigenous cinema (2016),50 in his keynote address at Cine Kurumin, warned against the homogenization and 50 Aldeia SP – Bienal de Cinema Indígena (2016). The first edition of this event took place in 2014 in São Paulo and was simply called Aldeia SP. In 2016, it became a biennale. 73 monovision of western culture and education inherently entrenched in colonization and capital: “We are all embodied in the same culture, shaped by the same worldview, and probably reproducing the same thing that is done in Hollywood, the same thing that fills the imagination of people all over the world” (Krenak, “Da Minha Aldeia”). Krenak warns against accepting the one-world vision and one-world-order, in favour of a pluriversal conception that includes the diversity of cinematic worlds represented in the Cine Kurumin program and by extension at VNA.51 He further makes visible the power structures of economic inequalities and their intertwined relationships with history, the geopolitics of knowledge production, and cultural disempowerment (Shome 67). As Ribeiro sums it up so well: “Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, NASA and the Pentagon are icons of a political economy based on production, dissemination and reproduction of images, high technology, financial capital and military power” (9). Krenak, thus makes a case for a recontextualizing of our reading of Indigenous cinemas rooted in Indigenous knowledge systems. He goes on to discuss how Indigenous cinema in Brazil was unimaginable twenty years ago, meaning a film conceived, directed, shot, edited, and distributed by an Indigenous filmmaker. I situate VNA as a key catalyst in this burgeoning cinema. When VNA first launched in 1986, and Carelli started touring his first films at international film festivals in the early 1990s, 51 Ana Carvalho, a VNA member, was part of the organizational and curatorial team of Cine Kurumin, where several VNA produced films were screened. The festival also included the participation of numerous filmmakers and members of VNA’s team, including Vincent Carelli, Ana Carvalho, Takumã Kuikuro, Patricia Ferreira, and Kamikiã Kisêdjê. 74 he became conscious of Indigenous cinema as a global phenomenon with projects in many countries including Canada, (Igloolik Isuma Productions incorporated in 1990), Mexico (Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Cine y Comunicación de los Pueblos Indígenas or CLACPI 1985), and Bolivia (Centro de Formación y Realización Cinematográfica or CEFREC 1989) (Carelli, “Moi un indien” 6). Carelli’s partnership with anthropologist Dominique Gallois, who was already working with the Waiãpi, was a highly fruitful collaboration. The films The Spirit of TV (1990) and Meeting Ancestors (1993) were made with Gallois. Subsequently, these films gained international recognition on the festival circuit. An important partnership was also established with the University of Mato Grosso to make a television program about Indigenous groups in Brazil; the Programa de índio (“Indian Program”) was created and four twenty-six minute episodes aired on national television between 1995 and 1996. It’s also important to note that during the early years of VNA, as a result of the success of Carelli’s films and a growing interest in the VNA project, Carelli travelled to the US and was able to secure funding from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations; in 1995 he secured international support from Norway and the Netherlands (Carelli et al. 48). Significantly, Carelli traces the evolution of VNA from a project that made films with Indigenous participation, to one that documented events and rituals exclusively for the concerned Indigenous groups, to one that developed an Indigenous inter-tribal video network, to one that organized its first video workshop. Carelli explains how in 1997 a meeting was organized in the Xingu bringing together over thirty Indigenous participants from different parts of the country who were already a part of VNA’s video networks (Carelli et al. 202). 75 Divino Tsewerahú, a Xavante filmmaker who had already been filming ceremonies in his village since 1991 and had participated in the Indian Program in 1996,52 assembled a crew from the workshop in the Xingu to film an important ritual in his village in Sangradouro taking place later that year (Carelli et al. 202). From this first workshop and training experience, which lasted over two months, Tsewerahú made the film: Wapté Mnhõnõ, The Xavante’s Initiation (1999). After this first national encounter of diverse Indigenous groups through the Indian Program, VNA decided to work more regionally, in partnership with other non-governmental organizations (such as the CTI), and with Indigenous associations (Carelli et al. 48). At this juncture, Carelli invited filmmaker Mari Corrêa, who had been trained at the Ateliers Varan in Paris in Jean Rouch’s direct cinema methodology, to work with VNA. It is important to mention Corrêa’s work and influence at VNA, as she was the main person responsible for coordinating the workshops between 1998–2009, was co-director of VNA until 2009, and trained numerous filmmakers, including Divino Tserewahú. She also co-authored and edited numerous films at VNA. Cinema direct, as a documentary approach in the late 1950s in the US and Canada, was made possible by technological advances in portable filmmaking equipment that ultimately allowed for more intimacy in the filmmaking process and approach. The desire to directly capture reality evolved from Jean Rouch’s early experiments in cinéma vérité,53 in particular when he handed the camera to the subject and co-author of his film Moi, un 52 Programa de índio is a Portuguese expression, often used derogatively to suggest a disorganized program, running late, and functioning badly. 53 Jean Rouch who is considered to be a foundational proponent of cinéma vérité was known for combining improvisation with the use of the camera to unveil social political truths. 76 noir (1958). Regarding when Corrêa joined VNA in 1998 and began coordinating the workshops, Carelli notes a significant shift in VNA’s character and trajectory: “Mari gave the project a radical and definitive turn, with a new language proposal and the timing of her editing, in tune with Indigenous time” (Carelli “Moi, un indien” 6). The Ateliers Varan’s direct cinema approach, an observational style of filmmaking, along with teaching through practice, became VNA’s guiding filmmaking and teaching principles. The first workshop Carelli and Corrêa coordinated was in February of 1998 in Rio Branco, in partnership with the Pro-Indian commission of Acre. As Corrêa explains in an interview with Carelli and the filmmakers Eduardo Coutinho and Eduardo Escorel, the films are hybrids (Corrêa et al. 35) and the workshops reflected this: The workshop is like this: they start by moving, learning to focus, ... we begin to work by doing exercises. The exercise we usually do is to film someone's everyday life. Someone they choose in the village to accompany, from morning till night. And at the end of the day, when they finish filming, we gather in a room, which is open to the whole community, watch the material and take a critical view. (Corrêa et al. 42) The main idea behind this pedagogy, adapted from the Ateliers Varan, is for students to learn through practice and by making films. At VNA, this process of trial and error unfolded in such a way that student filmmakers would define a theme or follow a character in their village. The filmmakers in training would take the camera and receive basic instruction on camera functions, and perform tests by filming their subjects, while the workshop coordinators (i.e. Carelli and Corrêa) were absent during the filming. At the end of each day, all workshop members would gather to look at the footage and provide feedback. Carlos Fausto, who helped coordinate the first workshop held in the Xingu in 2002, explains in an interview, “You get the 77 camera and say this is a camera, it works like this. Go and film. So they start filming something and then they come back. We look at the footage and we say this is not good or this is completely out of focus. How do you focus?” (Personal interview). The understanding of how to do a long shot or a close-up is learned through this process of experimentation and practice, as opposed to the more standardized study in the classroom of identifying and dissecting what we have coded as film syntax through slides of diagrams and film clips of different shots, angles, and camera movements. Cinema’s history, inseparable from its technological evolution, draws from the conventions of Italian Renaissance painting in terms of perspective. As Jean-Louis Baudry aptly puts it in his influential text “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus”, “But this much, at least, is clear in the history of cinema: it is the perspective construction of the Renaissance which originally served as a model” (41). It is important to note that the film camera itself, the apparatus, not to mention the evolution of film history, is imbued with western ideology and hegemony. My discussion and film analyses focus on how the legacy of western knowledge, never neutral or objective, is subverted, countered, and resignified in the body of works at VNA. Carelli, in conversation with me as well as in various texts and interviews, concedes that there was and is a pedagogical approach in VNA’s teaching of filmmaking using video technologies. However, before the articulation of any method, in his capacity as founder of VNA, program coordinator, director, and filmmaker, Carelli works intuitively and relationally, always listening to the people he is working with, always seeking to understand beforehand the internal protocols and politics of each community and space he is in (Carelli et al. 198-199). In this way, VNA’s approach to working with communities, under Carelli’s leadership, has always 78 allowed for a great amount of freedom of expression, improvisation, and spontaneity, all traits that are reflected in some of the films and their structure. As Carelli affirms, “The collective desire to make the film produces their synergetic energy, while the filmmaker’s intimacy with his/her home environment ensures their originality” (Carelli et al. 199). This particular approach is evidenced in the film Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004), as will be discussed. Looking back at VNA’s evolution as a pedagogical project, in the year 2000 VNA disbanded from the CTI while maintaining a large network of institutional and individual partnerships with film professionals; it became an independent non-governmental organization (NGO) with the aim of training Indigenous filmmakers. VNA coordinators also realized the benefits of doing workshops with specific Indigenous groups and villages (as opposed to multi-ethnic groups); in this way, the same language and a closer intimacy between youths and Elders is exploited to maximum effect in VNA’s filmography. As emphasized by Carelli, “There is no more emotional moment for us, as participants in this work, than seeing a group of young people interviewing an Elder–the latter happy to be asked – amazed to hear stories previously unknown to them…” (Carelli et al. 199). In the context of the intimacy of the village, during the duration of the VNA workshop (approximately three weeks to a month), the whole village attends open-air projections of films from other communities, as well as other fiction and non-fiction films, thereby collectively immersing an entire village into cinematic culture (199). Resources and funding continue to be factors as well. The political and cultural climate under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s (“Lula”) presidential tenure (2003-2010), allowed the video training workshops to flourish. Carelli articulates this national shift in public cultural policy as revolutionary: “After 18 years of work financed through international cooperation and very little national recognition, in Lula’s government, the minister, Gilberto Gil and his team, create a real 79 revolution in their politics of public culture” (Carelli et al. 199). Under Gilberto Gil’s appointment as Minister of Culture (2003-2008), a project known as “The Live Culture Program” (O Programa Cultural Viva) had the underlying mission to show Brazil to Brazilians: Accepting that “Brazil doesn’t know Brazil” and that in a “Country for Everyone” every citizen should have the right not only to consume but to produce culture from their own perspective, a new era was initiated of valorizing Brazilian cultural diversity and making access to funding for culture more democratic. (Carelli et al. 199) This new era of governmental funding under The Living Culture Program included “Points of Culture” (Pontos de Cultura) for all of Brazil, and was decisive for projects like VNA. The famous Brazilian musician, Gilberto Gil, in his new role as Minister of Culture, thus changed the very notion of culture in government. He invited Célio Turino to develop “a program of democratization and access to culture” (Sader qtd. in Turino 8). Over a period of five years under the management of minister Juca Ferreira, this program “provided the means for the multiple voices of people to express themselves” (Sader qtd. in Torino 8). The hierarchy of culture previously promoted in governmental spheres had been characterized by the “white washing” of television and soap operas, with notions of refined culture associated only with the “fine arts” and high culture, and both links to business and market economies. This hierarchy was eliminated; a much more inclusive conception of culture was adopted, one Gilberto Gil called: “an embracing culture, present in everything and everyone” (Turino 186). Turino, a key player in this new public program, said of VNA: Video in the Villages and Indigenous filmmakers produce documentaries and fiction films; shorts, mediums and feature films spoken in the voice of Indians; films written, directed and staged in kaxinawá, kuikuro, huni-kuni, ashaninka ... Narratives that establish a 80 dialogue from the voice of the one who makes their own culture and not by the voice of the "other." (Turino 16) Points of Culture, under Turino, was more than a public policy; it was a concept and “maybe a theory” (15). Indeed, as of 2004, VNA entered a new phase of production, Carelli explains how the Points of Culture program gave considerable support to the network of villages that VNA was working with, thereby allowing for the purchase of better production equipment, more production workshops, publication of DVDs, and ultimately more autonomy for Indigenous filmmakers (Carelli “um novo olhar” 10). 2.3 Divino Tserewahú Divino Tserewahú, one of the Indigenous filmmakers who benefited from Points of Culture, made numerous films and participated in a series of television programs (Indian Program), filmed material for his community, and trained numerous filmmakers. His filmography includes: (1) Hepari idub’rada: Thank You Brother (1998), (2) Wapté Mnhõnõ: The Xavante’s Initiation (1999) co-filmed with Caimi Waiassé, Jorge Protodi, Whinti Suyá, (3) The Struggle Goes On (2002), (4) Wai’á Rini: The Power of the Dream (2001), (5) Daritizé: Trainee Curator (2003),56 (6) Tsõ’rehipãri: Sangradouro (2009), and (7) Pi’õnhitsi: Unnamed Xavante Women (2009). In Tserewahú’s own words, One day Jeremias took the camera and said to me: “I’m going to teach you.” Later he said to me: “Now you’re going to watch what you recorded.” That evening he took the tape 56 This is VNA’s translation from the Portuguese Aprendiz de curador, which is more accurately translated into English as “the healer’s apprenticeship.” 81 from the camera and stuck it in the video. “You’re going to see what you recorded today. You’re going to be startled, but don’t be.” I was impressed. How does the camera record? How does it remove our body, our image? (Qtd. in Carelli et al. 201) Tserewahú’s brother passed down a camera to him that he uses still. By 1990, he was already considered official videographer of the village of Sangradouro (qtd. in Carelli et al. 54). He has filmed a series of ceremonies, rituals, and festivals, in various formats ranging from VHS tapes and mini-DV tapes, to HD footage. Arguably, Tserewahú’s cinema embodies the theme of culture as ritual in VNA’s filmography; all of his films typically explore this recurring theme. In his village, Tserewahú recalls that when he asked the Elders if he could make his first film, the Elders asked: “This film you want to make, who is it for?” and Tserewahú answered: “It’s for us. We want to do our first film on the initiation of the Xavante. This will serve us all, all of you in the village. Because in Sangradouro culture is alive and no one has recorded it yet” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 57). Tserewahú has stressed the protocol of always consulting with village Elders as part of his filmmaking praxis and of the “embedded aesthetics” that are a signature in his body of films. 57 The question of authorship is complicated by the collective nature of Indigenous filmmaking, within which consultations and protocols have to be followed. To illustrate, Tserewahú discusses the three month-long editing process of Wapté Mnhõnõ, The Xavante’s Initiation, explaining how he made three trips between the editing table in Sao Paulo and his village in Sangradouro: “Every time the elders said something about a scene, I would stop, ask a 57 In February, 2019, I attended a roundtable discussion with Tserewahú at the InDigital III conference, where he asserted his practice of consulting with Elders as part of his praxis. 82 question and jot down everything that they said. ‘Stop, stop’, they would say. ‘Go back a bit. That bit has got to change!’” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 203). Certainly however, non-Indigenous members of VNA are sensitive to and aware of Indigenous community protocols. Editing, particularly during VNA’s early productions, was done by non-Indigenous filmmakers. This re-telling of the story at the editing table by a non-Indigenous filmmaker, who likely has their own influences linked to formal education, cinematic training, and references from film history, is exemplified in the collaboration between Divino Tserewahú and Tiago Campos Torres, who co-authored and co-edited Pi’õnhitsi: Unnamed Xavante Women (2009). 2.4 Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women (2009) “First they suggested ‘contaminated water’ to me but I didn’t want that. Afterwards they suggested: ‘You’ll never break coconut’ but I didn’t want that either. I chose Pea’a’õ, ‘Jatobá fish’, because my father-in-law offered it.”58 Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women begins, in narrative terms, in media res. The complex and somewhat cyclical structure of this film tells the story of an age-old ceremony that seems cursed, doomed to being abandoned. In the film’s opening sequence the dominant themes emerge: the film camera’s presence is made apparent, as part of a self-reflexive cinematic approach; the focus on masculine bodies as integral to Xavante ritual and cosmology is highlighted; the fragility and resilience of Xavante traditional knowledge and practices in the digital era are underscored. The sound of a male voice singing over a black screen is the first 58 An Elder recalls how she received and chose her name in the naming of the women ceremony, Pi’õnhitsi. 83 thing we hear before any images appear. Fade from black and we see a dancer adorned in a mask made from palm fronds that cover most of his body, clasping what appear to be traditional spears made with wood and feathers. The rhythmic singing voice continues, and the subtitle, “Sangradouro 2003” appears. The camera man, Tserewahú, asks the dancing masked figure who is framed in a medium close-up: “What does that mean?” The filmed subject responds in the Xavante language:59 “It’s the dance of the Anteater, Manã’uipre.” The camera pans across the bodies of dancers in the palm frond regalia (see Figure 2-1), who are all clutching what appear to be arrows and spears, then cuts to a medium wide shot of an Elder explaining the protocol for this dance and ceremony: “You have to buy the shorts for the Wapté. If you don’t buy them, I will break your camera.” This exchange between filmmaker and filmed subject highlights the dialogical method reflected upon in a meta-commentary on the filmmaking process. 59 The Xavante are a central Brazilian Indigenous Gê speaking people, numbering approximately 15, 325 (Graham and Penny 309); the Xavante language is spoken in about 170 villages in Mato Grosso. 84 Figure 2-1 Screen shot from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA In this opening sequence, the handheld camera zooms in and focuses on a close-up of an Elder’s face, then reframes the shot to a medium close-up as he explains the history and significance behind the complex choreography of the dance: “This ceremony was explained by the elders thus: a long time ago, the women went to look for honey. On the way, they became thirsty and went to drink water.” A cross-fade from the Elder’s face to a reenactment of the legend as performed in the actual ceremony ensues. The storyteller continues: “The U’u, who lived in the water, caught the women.” We see two women in a lake slowly submerge their heads underwater (see Figure 2-2). The subtle, non-diegetic sound of ambient music enhances the scene of the ancient legend. “Only the pregnant woman, who waited on the shore, escaped. The women spent days in the water before they emerged with their faces turned black and they died. A man appeared who had spiritual power.” The camera cuts back to the storyteller. “He went to the lake and began to stamp his feet.” The camera cuts to a new register of images: super 8 footage of the ceremony recorded by the German missionary, Adalberto Heide, from 1967. The subtext for this Super 8-wielding German missionary is the subject of another VNA-produced film directed by Tiago Campos Torres, O Mestre e o Divino (2013). Adalberto Heide lived with the Xavante for 85 over forty years and has produced an impressive and important archive of images of the Xavante in Sangradouro since his arrival in the 1960s. Figure 2-2 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA. The first film title appears after this elaborate four-minute opening sequence, with the title Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women over black; the sound of the rhythmic male voice we first heard becomes a motif, maintaining the beat and pace of the cuts and edits, tying together the different registers of images. The film moves between documentation of footage from various attempts at carrying out the naming of the women ceremony from 1967, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2008. After the title sequence and in the most recent (2008) footage of Sangradouro, we eventually hear Tserewahú’s voice-over explaining the premise for the film and its title, which tells us that the women never receive their names. This narration foreshadows the changes to come in this Indigenous village. Tserewahú’s voice-over explains: “The ‘Naming the Women’ festival traditionally took place every seven years and practically took four months.” The footage cuts to Elders viewing the archival footage and footage of other attempts to carry out the ceremony over the years, on an editing table monitor. In this way, the film’s highly self-reflexive structure continually reminds us of the filmmaking process in all its complexity and its 86 specificity to this story. The filmmakers’ frustrated attempts over the years to make a film on the “Naming of the Women” festival is never concluded nor captured by the camera, thus creating the framework for a different film. In essence, the film to document the “Naming of the Women” festival is never made. This highly self-reflexive film effectively becomes a mise-en-abyme of the festival, of culture, of the hybrid nature of cinema itself while commenting on the archive and the repertoire (Taylor 2003). While Taylor’s investment in performance studies outlines a productive argument for distinctions between the archive and the repertoire, I argue that in the case of video production at VNA, the camera itself is absorbed into an embodied practice and repertoire of rituals. In this way, VNA’s archive is imbued with “corporal knowledge” (Taylor 13) and “embodied culture” (16) both through the camera’s movement and POV as well as as witnessed in the filmic material of performances that further highlight “an embodied praxis and episteme” (17). In Pi’õnhitsi and other VNA produced films, we witness non-verbal practices “such as dance, ritual, cooking” that both preserves “communal identity and memory” (18) and continues to decenter “the historic role of writing” (17) introduced by colonization. While Taylor lists videos and films as archival material, I argue that film (and video) transcend the binary of archive (as memory) versus repertoire (as embodied knowledge). Film and video as artform and medium have the versatility to collapse, perform, represent, and hybridize both regimes of knowledge production (archive and repertoire) as outlined by Taylor. Thus, understanding the archive and repertoire as mutually co-existing within VNA’s filmic corpus becomes an implicit facet of VNA’s intervening role as a decolonial and de-westernizing technology that ultimately avoids binary, hierarchical, and Eurocentric modes and definitions. 87 The document/archive of the festival in Pi’õnhitsi develops into a document of its obstacles and failed attempts at performing the festival. Consequently, Tserewahú’s embodied filmic practice of working from within his socio-politcal-cultural-cosmological context is more successful than the execution of the festival. In this way, when Tserewahú makes a film on a Xavante ritual, he is a part of the film’s universe, a part of its practices and cosmovisions, and he embodies a part of the collective entity and identity of his community. Tserewahú is indivisible from his filmed environment; the film’s nexus centres on tensions between this insider’s viewpoint (Tserewahú’s) versus the outsider’s one (Campos Torres). Another key thematic explored in Pi’õnhits is changes in generational practices and perspectives. Relevant here is a narrative by Elders Adão Top’tiro and Thiago Tseretsu that reveals Xavante cosmology and the impacts of colonization and modernity on Xavante cosmovision: The Xavante depend on the cerrado [savannah in Portuguese] and the cerrado depends on the Xavante. The animals depend on the cerrado and the cerrado depends on the animals. The animals depend on the Xavante and the Xavante depend on the animals. … We want to preserve the Ró. … If everything is fine with the Ró, we will continue to be Xavante. … The new generations today want to buy outside food. They have forgotten that food comes from the Ró, not from the city. (Qtd. in M. Ferreira 163) This narrative articulates the indivisible relationship between the Xavante and the land, as well as the recent shifts among newer generations of Xavante following this wisdom and cosmovision. The film articulates and explores a host of issues, from the technical and structural to the philosophical, cosmological and political. These issues are quite transparent and are consciously woven into the structure of a different film than the one originally planned. The 88 original film proposal, which was to document the Pi’õnhitsi festival to be performed in 2007, essentially becomes a meta-discussion on the filmmaking process, on the participants involved, on the setting, on Xavante community and intergenerational politics, on Xavante gender politics, and on cosmovisions and cosmopolitics in a living Indigenous culture situated within a post-missionized, colonized, and modernized Brazil. Figure 2-3 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA Conscious directorial decisions to draw attention to some of the negotiations, complexities, dynamics, and politics that arose in the making of this film include footage of Elders criticizing the filmic material at the editing table in Sangradouro from 2003, as well as footage of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers, Tserewahú and Campos Torres, discussing and clashing on the direction of the film at the editing table at VNA in Olinda in 2008 (see Figure 2-3). We also see a scene in the village in 2008, when Tserewahú projects an edited version of the film to the village, inviting its inhabitants to participate in the filmmaking process by giving feedback and advice on the edit. The Elders look at the projected super 8 footage filmed by the missionary Adalberto Heide, in 1967 and remark that the ceremony in 1967 was “good”, “unique”, and “authentic”. They point out their relatives and are inspired to execute the festival again in its original and authentic incarnation. The Elders complain that some people no 89 longer want this festival despite its beauty and importance: “They don’t let the girls take part and tell them things happen in the festival.” The Elders also lament how many of the adornments seen in Heide’s 1967 archival footage are no longer being used today. In a voice over, Tserewahú explains that after screening the 1967 footage to the village, facing pressures and limited funding to make a film on this ceremony, the Elders decide to do a reduced version of the festival, “at least enough to film”. The performance of Indigeneity and of filmmaking itself becomes a leitmotiv. França observes that: The glances towards the camera, the gestures, smiles and dialogue, are intensely strong moments precisely because they show an indigenous awareness that the filming involves a game between filmer and filmed – a game in which the performance of the Indians is linked to factors that are produced by the documentary and for the documentary and which do not exist without it. (31). More specifically, Tserewahú performs being a filmmaker and being Indigenous in front of the camera: we see him filming, interviewing, discussing and consulting about aspects of the film with community members and Elders. For instance, in one scene, Tserewahú is filmed as he sets up an interview to discuss the ceremony with a community member, his uncle. Tserewahú consciously frames his uncle’s regalia and adornments; meanwhile the other camera, presumably Campos Torres’, makes it visible to the film’s audience how Tserewahú portrays tradition and Indigeneity on camera. We see Campos Torres’ camera film Tserewahú, as the latter asks his uncle to take his shirt off, arranging the mise-en-scène in such a way as to highlight his uncle’s Indigeneity by removing unwanted glimpses of western clothes hanging on a clothesline in the background in favour of framing the traditional Indigenous adornments, such as maize (see Figure 2-4). 90 Figure 2-4 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA Yet the non-Indigenous elements are not entirely excluded, nor invisible: from the medium close-up of Tserewahú’s uncle talking, the camera cuts to a shot of arrows hanging on a wall over a Gregorian calendar and a framed portrait of the Virgin Mary, reflecting the influence of the Salesian missionaries in this Xavante village as well as the syncretism in the filmmaking process itself. In many ways, the film shows the negotiations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous elements and between Tserewahú and his community. Carelli discusses the collective nature of working with the Xavante and the tensions and negotiations between Tserewahú and VNA’s non-Indigenous filmmakers regarding Tserewahú’s obligation to get approval from his Elders: (…) the Xavante – who are a warrior people – have an important ritual involving children. They’re a real army. There’s a trial of strength… And they have a desire to construct an image. And this, in turn, causes a clash with us … At some point the elders put pressure and the kids complain, … The child rebels and the camera cuts. I said: “Hey Divino, why did you cut?” “Ah! Because the kid came over to talk to the camera and the Elder didn't 91 like it. Were I to carry on filming, they’ll put the blame on me.” (Carelli qtd. in Corrêa et al. 40)60 Intergenerational dialogues and clashes, and the recurring thematic of tensions between modernity and tradition running through VNA’s filmography underscore the tensions arising from adopting digital technologies as a form of preservation and continuity; they are also a means of adaptability and resistance. The theme of modernity’s encroachment in Sangradouro, reflecting the violent histories of colonization, is subtly treated in Pi’õnhitsi, yet we witness how the missionization of Xavante villages dramatically interfered with Xavante cultural production. The film asks: What happens to an age-old ceremony in an Indigenous community in the twenty-first century? One community member explains the importance of the naming: “The women enter the festival to receive their names. The name given by the family at home is less esteemed. The festival name lasts forever.” Arguably, it is the sacredness of this naming and ceremony that cannot be captured on film. Yet, what happens to a community when this ceremony is abandoned and women no longer receive their names? How does this evolution affect gender roles in the community? In fact, young Xavante women are rather under-represented in this film. We learn relatively little about the evolution of gender roles or whether the women give consent; their voices, desires, and ambitions remain relatively silent in an Indigenous community that has been missionized and in a ceremony that traditionally demands extramarital relations. As a result of the contradictory statements, which seem to reflect differentiated gender and generational 60 Carelli is cited here in an interview with Eduardo Coutinho and Eduardo Escorel, (two important Brazilian filmmakers and film critics). They refer to the filming of two films: Daritzé, Trainee curator (2003) and Wai’á Rini, The power of the dream (2001) by Divino Tserewahú. 92 perspectives by the film’s interlocuters, our knowledge, as an uninitiated audience, is curbed. Concerning Xavante gender roles, Graham explains: Men manage exogenous relations, especially interactions with Others that take place “outside” of Xavante communities–in dreams, ceremonial activity, the forest, or the city–then selectively bring their knowledge and experiences of Others into “interior” space… Women, on the other hand, manage many aspects of alterity on the “inside” of Xavante social life through provisions and nurturance. (“Genders” 315) The above division of gender roles is also evidenced in VNA’s filmography which, following this pattern of males mediating outside interactions with non-Indigenous agents, has led to a prominence of males attending the film workshops, and, consequently, a majority of male filmmakers. We see this trend of collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous male filmmakers continued in Pi’õnhitsi: Unnamed Xavante Women. The marked masculinized gender patterns in Tserewahú’s filmography, as part of Xavante cosmology, focus on male roles in ceremonies and on initiation rites specific to boys and men. In this regard, Graham points out: “Public ceremonial life in the community primarily revolves around male-centered activities whose cyclical periodicity organizes the ceremonial lifecycle and also creates and expresses social formations and meaning in social life” (“Genders” 315). Although Xavante women are certainly less prominent in the film than their male counterparts, women’s appearances and voices in Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women nonetheless highlight shifting ideologies between young and older generations of women, as well as the complexity of gender roles and the asymmetries and complementarities internal to Xavante society. Even in this women’s naming ceremony, Pi’õnhitsi, as witnessed in the film, women seldom publicly appear; the visual elements concentrate on male expressive forms and male- 93 centered ritual activity through choreography, song, dance, regalia, body paint, and feather ornaments specific to male performances. The historically nationalized image of the “Xavante Indian” in the Brazilian imaginary as hypermasculine is relevant in contextualizing the importance of picturing a shifting balance of gender roles in the film. A persistent mass media campaign from the 1940s through to the 1980s created a highly public image of the Xavante associated with: “bravery, heroism, endurance, and resistance” (Graham, “Genders” 309). As stated by Graham, Xavante men become metonyms for the larger social as a whole “within the national imaginary….” (“Genders” 312). Indeed, in Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women, the few scenes featuring women and the filmed interviews with women arguably disclose how their voices are less represented in the history of media on the Xavante. In dominant media, Xavante have been depicted as “noble savages,” as per elite agendas (Conklin and Graham 696). At approximately eleven minutes into the film, a female Elder who went through the ceremony in her youth criticizes the younger generation of girls who no longer want to participate in this ceremony. She explains that in her youth the ceremony lasted three months, and that one lived through the experience of having relations “with some people.” We hear the interviewer (Tserewahú) say to this Elder: “The girls today are afraid of this festival because they say the men queue up to have sex with them.” The Elder says this is a lie and that the relations are only with some men, brothers-in-law. “There are rules” she explains. She also discusses the influence of the mission on her life and on the community: “We’re the generation that went to the Salesian boarding school, we learnt the Bible…. We, from the Nodzo’u and Anaro’wa groups, didn’t know what the festival was like, but all of us took part at the time.” Despite the fact that she was at the mission boarding school, she explains how all of the girls 94 participated. “We aren’t slack like you all, who are abandoning the festival,” she says, addressing the camera directly. Tserewahú later interviews some Xavante female youth about their opinions on holding the festival. One young woman explains that some people do not want the festival to be held; these interviews show mixed opinions on holding the festival and, arguably, the misunderstandings about holding a festival that many youths have never witnessed. One woman explains, “I think in the past, there really were sexual relations during the festival. But today things have changed, it’s no longer like that.” Another female youth says, “I think a lot of people will go to the festival. I want to take part too.” On balance, the film shows both the fragility and persistence of this ceremony, as well as the Xavante sense of resistance and resilience in a post-contact world, impacted by the missions who discouraged the practice of extramarital sex. Fittingly, we see a Xavante man address this imposed contradiction, speaking to a group of youth: “The church doesn’t prohibit the white peoples’ carnival. But it prohibits our beautiful festival. We can’t let them.” An open discussion on the filming of sexual relations in the festival, however, remains constrained, perhaps as a result of the Salesian missions which considered extramarital sex taboo. The film’s subject and pretext, the Pi’õnhitsi ceremony, nevertheless incites discussion and dialogue within the community, while the film’s self-reflexive dialogic mode generates a meta-discussion on a living culture undergoing radical changes. We see this through a series of motifs in the film such as the generation of Elders who seem to long for and lament a past they remember as following the protocols of their Elders. One elder recollects her experience of the festival: “One of my brothers-in-law painted me, and I loved it. It was like he was my husband.” Those codes of gender and sexuality in the festival that imply extra-marital sex appear to be 95 cherished in the memories of this Elder, despite the fact that the Salesian priests considered this festival a “sin.” We hear Tserewahú recount this history to Campos Torres at the editing table at VNA’s headquarters in Olinda. Poignantly, we learn in this scene between Tserewahú and Campos Torres that Tserewahú was conceived in a Pi’õnhitsi festival held in 1973. The ensuing scene shows Tserewahú’s intimately-linked biographical relationship to the festival and to being born out of this complex ritual that blurs lines between biological and adoptive parents in Xavante society. In this way, a key part of the film’s drama can be located in Tserewahú’s interconnected relationship to this ceremony and in his personal struggle to film the disappearing ritual. The decisive role Pi’õnhitsi played in Tserewahú’s life (including the circumstances of his birth) was also significant in that it was during a 1995 Pi’õnhitsi festival that Tserewahú met Carelli. Lucas Ruri’õ and Bartolomeu Patira invited Carelli to film the four-month-long festival, in a growing concern that it would otherwise be lost (Cernicchiaro 3579). In effect, this was the last successfully executed festival in Sangradouro; all future festivals were interrupted through a series of mishaps including accidents, illness, deaths, and a lack of conviction and commitment from a younger generation of Xavante who are intimidated by the extramarital sex. The film, as highlighted by film scholar Gustavo Procopio Furtado, becomes a meditation “on failure and on the difference between intention and realization” and on “the tensions between the living experience of indigeneity in the present and the audiovisual record of a traditional practice” (70). In this way, Pi’õnhitsi creates an open-ended dialogue between embodied practices of filmmaking and indigeneity, between archive and repertoire, between virtual and real spaces, between recorded, memoried and ritual time. 96 After Tserewahú’s personal testimony about his origins and place in his family, in the village, and as a Xavante, the film cuts to an impressive and immersive scene filmed by Carelli and the young Tserewahú. We see a large group of Xavante men in body paint with feathered adornments, carrying spears and arrows, running and vocalizing as part of the 1995 ceremony. The camera cuts between distant wide shots and medium close-ups among the men carrying out this ceremony. We then cut back to the editing table in Olinda where a third camera frames Tserewahú, who explains to Campos Torres what is happening in the ceremony: “So, right now they’re concluding the festival…” Although the film’s structure avoids linearity in time and space, the film begins with the opening rituals of the ceremony in 2003 and ends with the concluding rituals of another attempt at the ceremony at an unknown date. Tserewahú explains, “The Elders collect these black jaguar ear decorations and divide them in two identical parts… they’ll be passed on to the next festival owners. When they’re handed over, everyone there focuses all of their attention on them. … If he lets it fall, it means he’ll die very soon.” The film cuts from this final footage of the festival, as pictured in the editing room monitor with Tserewahú and Campos Torres in the frame watching the footage, to a full screen of the live action footage. Figure 2-5 Screen shots from Pi’õnhitsi, used with permission from VNA 97 We immediately become immersed in this final sequence. We see the performed gestures of two pairs of Xavante young men in a choreographed and meditative symmetry, as witnessed by the whole community (see Figure 2-5). Like the community, we, the audience are held captive and captivated in the time of ritual, in this enactment of a world order where the entire community is collectively united. We hear the singing voice of an Elder in the crowd, while another Elder says to the men: “Don’t drop it! If it falls, it’s a bad sign. It announces the death of one of them, it’s dangerous.” Ritualized time takes over in this final sequence in which the future of the ceremony and lives of the young men are at stake. The sense of suspense, of drama, of tension, of holding one’s breath, of complete focus and concentration on this doubled act, a dual gesture of timed throwing and catching, is as palpable as the exhalation one feels watching the final shot of the backs of the two men walking away from the camera with the bundles of regalia safely in their hands. 2.5 Takumã Kuikuro Whereas Tserewahú’s cinema often features rituals as part of a meta-ethnographic cinema, Takumã Kuikuro’s filmography, consonant with Kuikuro culture and cosmology, 61 tends to blur lines between document and fiction. Or, as Carelli puts it: “Fiction among the Kuikuro isn’t an issue. It is a procedure, a method of working” (Carelli et al. 99). The tendency towards fiction is particularly present in the films Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon 61 Kuikuro is a corrupted form of the term Kuhi ikugu, “o lago dos peixes agulha” (lake of the needle fish). See Carlos Fausto’s article “Sangue de Lua: Reflexôes sobre Espíritos e Eclipses”, (13n2), for more on the etymology and history of the term Kuikuro. 98 Menstruated (2004), Imbé Gikegü, The Smell of the Pequi Fruit (2006), and the The Hyperwomen (2011), in which setting the stage, staging events, re-enacting myths and rituals are all performed for the camera. Takumã,62 who is known for his skilled cinematography, has also authored and co-authored numerous films including: Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004), Imbé Gikegü, The Scent of the Pequi Fruit (2006), Kajehijü Ugühütu, The Handling of the Camera (2007), and the most acclaimed feature debut, The Hyperwomen (2011) co-directed with Carlos Fausto and Leonardo Sette. More recently, he independently produced and directed Pele de branco (2012), Karioka (2014), and London as a Village (2015). Takumã Kuikuro is the first-born child of Samuagü Kuikuro and Tapualu Kalapalo (Corrêa et al. 66). He was born in 1983 in the village of Ipatse, one of three villages on the Indigenous land of the Xingu, in the state of Mato Grosso. This Kuikuro village is situated in the Xingu National Park (26,420 square kilometers), a park founded in 1961 by the famed Villas Bôas brothers (Orlando, Claudio, and Leonardo). The brothers are known for their twenty-five years of work for the Indigenous cause in Brazil; their belief was that Brazil’s Indigenous people should not be acculturated or civilized. In order to protect their isolation from the western world they created the Xingu National Park, the first protected Indigenous area in all South America and a prototype for other reserves all over the continent (“History of the Xingu”). When Claudio Villas Bôas died, Chief Raoni is quoted as saying, “Now our father gone. The Indians’ father is dead. He used to tell us that everybody in the city was crazy. He also taught us that the white 62 I often use first names to designate many of the Indigenous filmmakers to avoid confusion as some use their tribe’s name as a last name, (e.g. Takumã Kuikuro) or share a last name with other community members and filmmakers also quoted in the text. 99 man’s life is not good for us” (qtd. in Cowell and Schwartzman). The National Park, post-colonization, is a protected zone developed after the genocide of many Indigenous populations and the invasion of their traditional territories by farmers and ranchers. It is estimated that the Kuikuro population numbers in 1500 CE were about 10,000; the modern-day Kuikuro descendants now number close to 500 members (“History of the Xingu”). The park is only a fraction of the Xingu group’s original traditional territories, that were taken over mostly by farmland and industrialization. As Bernard Belisário’s work makes clear, the extensive audio-visual production conducted in the Xingu National Park is also important. A series of films have been made on the Xingu and its people since as early as 1912, when Major Luiz Thomaz Reis, a cinematographer for the SPI (The Indian Protection Service, and predecessor of FUNAI) went on expeditions with the renowned Marshall Rondon.63 Rondon’s legacy includes his support of the Villas Bôas brothers’ campaign to establish the Xingu National Park in the 1950s amidst strong opposition from the government and ranchers of the state of Mato Grosso. Many films, including a trilogy of 16mm black and white films shown on British television called Destruction of Indian – Series 63 Marshall Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon (1865-1958) led the “Strategic Telegraph Commission of Mato Grosso to Amazonas,” involving the setting up of a telegraph line between Mato Grosso and Amazonas. From 1907 to 1915, the commission became famously known as the “Rondon Commission.” Beyond the telegraph line which allowed for communication and surveillance in “border regions” the legacy of the commission “adquired great signigicance due to the contact with indigenous populations” (Alves Barbio). 100 in 1962,64 have been made by European filmmakers such as the British filmmaker, Adrian Cowell, who met the Villas Boâs brothers. As articulated by Carlos Fausto, the anthropologist and filmmaker: “This image of truly authentic Indians endowed with a ‘superculture’ received huge media coverage during the process of establishing the Xingu Indigenous Park and has populated the national imagination ever since” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 236). Leonardo Sette explains that they, the Xinguanos, are probably the most filmed people in Brazil. Sette says of the first workshop conducted with the Kuikuro in 2002: “They didn’t want to be on camera because they had already been filmed so often” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 214). Indeed, the cinematic history and presence of cameras and audio-visual production in the Xingu National Park left a mark on Takumã’s psyche, as this childhood memory reveals: When I was a child, around the age of five, the whites came here, photographers and filmmakers, and I saw their things, large cameras, like the TV Globo network, which came here some time ago. I would watch them in secret, walking behind, and I would wonder: what are these machines? I was still a child, I didn’t know. (Qtd. in Carelli et al. 102) 64 Cowell filmed in the Brazilian Amazon for over fifty years and produced a series of films and books. The Destruction of the Indian is a three-part series filmed in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Part 1: The Heart of the Forest follows the Villas Bôas brothers in the early days of the Xingu National Park while Part 2: Path to Extinction continues to explore the struggle of Indigenous peoples in Northern Mato Grosso. Part 3: Carnival of Violence was filmed around Lake Titicaca, on the border of Bolivia and Peru, with Indigenous farmers and Aymara peoples (www.adriancowellfilms.com/destruction-of-the-indian/4573904004). 101 Within this particular historic context of journalists, filmmakers and film crews in the Xingu National Park, Takumã participated in the first VNA workshop in his village in 2002. The workshop featured a partnership between the Upper Xingu Kuikuro Association, Carlos Fausto, and Bruna Franchetto from the Documenta Kuikuro project based at the Museu Nacional and coordinated by Vincent Carelli and Carlos Fausto (Carelli et al., 213). Between 2003-2010 Takumã and the Kuikuro Cinema Collective, led and coordinated by Takumã, made a series of films that circulated exclusively among the Kuikuro (Belisário 35). Takumã recalls his early experimentations with the video camera: When the camera arrived in the village, we began to film everything, everyday life in the village, the festivals, the wrestling. People started to ask us to film in other villages too. We documented songs, the stories told by the Elders. Over time I became the coordinator of the Kuikuro Cinema Collective. (Qtd. in Carelli et al. 217) Takumã is part of a generation of filmmakers trained by VNA who have gone on to make their own authorial cinematic works. Takumã’s trajectory is unusual in that, after the success of his first feature film, The Hyperwomen (2011), co-directed with Carlos Fausto, and Leonardo Sette, he went to Rio to attend the Darcy Ribeiro Film School where he received a more conventional film and audio-visual education and training. In my interview with Carlos Fausto, he explained to me that Takumã lived with him for the year and a half that he attended the school; as a result, Takumã “inserted himself in a network of people doing cinema and arts.” In turn, because of his access to this film and art network, Takumã did an artist residency in London where he made the film London as a Village (2015). He has been able to sustain himself by working on various projects, mostly as a cinematographer, and by leading workshops with other Indigenous groups (Fausto, Personal interview). 102 When I first met and interviewed Takumã in July 2017 at the Cine Kurumin film festival, he explained how he was leading workshops with Indigenous groups in Altamira where the hydroelectric dams are negatively impacting Indigenous peoples, their lands, and their culture. He stressed that the technical training in how to use audio-visual resources as tools not only served to resist the impact of environmental damage on local Indigenous communities in Altamira, but led to an invaluable exchange of culture between Indigenous groups. Takumã, who is Kuikuro, forms “part of an Upper-Xingu Carib subsystem with other neighbouring peoples speaking dialects of the same language (Kalapalo, Matipu and Nahukuá)…” (Carelli et al. 213). Takumã, who had previously lived all of his youth in Ipatse village speaking his native language, is now moving around the world as a Brazilian (Indigenous) filmmaker. His intimate and local knowledge of Indigeneity is expanding to national and global arenas of Indigenous identities. In 2017, Takumã collaborated with a British scholar (Jerry Brotton) and digital technology artist (Adam Lowe) to create 3D maps of Takumã’s community of Ipatse village, their territories and culture. The project titled: “Mapping the Kuikuro Community,” presented at The People’s Palace Project, an arts research centre in Queen Mary University in London, and as part of a workshop at the Tate Gallery in London was one of the outcomes of this collaboration and exchange. This collaboration also resulted in subsequent labs, presentations, residencies, workshops and exhibitions in England and Brazil. Takumã was further awarded a Fellowship of Queen Mary in December 2017 in recognition of his collaboration with Queen Mary University in London (“Xingu Encounter”). Within Takumã’s local, national and global exchanges and collaborations with audio visual technologies, the technologies themselves become a means of fostering Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty. As Takumã sums up: “Us Indigenous people, we don’t just make 103 films for ourselves, we make it for the community, collectively. We gather everyone to tell them about our project. White people make films with a couple of their friends, but really, they are making the films for themselves” (personal communication). Here, Graham’s articulation of how performances of Indigeneity can be leveraged resonates with Takumã’s filmmaking trajectory: As historically marginalized and seemingly disparate Native Peoples across the globe have found common cause in the emergent, and often elusive, Indigenous category, the performance of Indigenous identity as a means of establishing membership in this community becomes increasingly important. (Graham and Penny 5) In my conversation with him, and also as stressed in his presentation at the Cine Kurumin Film Festival, Takumã does not just want to make films for Indigenous peoples and risk being ghettoized in exclusively Indigenous film contexts. He wants his films to dialogue with national cinemas and to be shown in national and international contexts. As he explained: “I hope this happens in the future, that Indigenous cinema grows and participates in several important national and international festivals” (Personal interview). Takumã’s stance on cinema is reflective of the heterogenous positions of VNA’s diverse filmmakers on the role of cinema and its future. Nonetheless, the importance of Indigenous cinema as integrated into a larger film culture is relevant to a revaluing of Indigenous cinema as a stand alone cinematic artform within a plurivocal cinematic landscape. Takumã is currently working on a number of projects; one is about fire and the management of fire in the Xingu, and another is about Indigenous people in the city and how they live and survive in contrast to life in their Indigenous villages. Typically, Takumã’s projects are documentaries, all produced very independently with low budgets. The exception is his collaboration with the British scholar and digital technology artist, who used “3D Faro laser scanner to record vulnerable aspects of Kuikuro cultural heritage including 104 images, sounds, graphics, artefacts and architecture” (“Mapping”). Takumã also expressed a desire to make feature length fiction films but recognizes the resources it would take to create one. In his current situation, he does not have the necessary budget; yet as his networks, skills, ambitions, and resources grow, this seems like a reasonable goal. In Brazil, funding for many projects is through competitions which involve writing well researched, in-depth proposals and navigating highly bureaucratic processes. In my interview with Fausto, he explained that he received a grant and bought cameras for the Kuikuro. He said, “writing projects… they are not capable yet. Writing is a very difficult technology. Grant writing is difficult for us.” Considering that Takumã did not even speak Portuguese when VNA first came to his village in 2002, Takumã’s ability to leverage institutional support thus far has been impressive; as Fausto puts it, “Takumã had this very particular and specific trajectory because he was able to mobilize institutional support other than VNA” (Personal interview). In collaboration with the Kuikuro cinema collective, Takumã is currently launching the fifth episode of a thirteen-part series for TV Cultura called “Amanajé, the Messenger of the Future.” The series, features thirteen different Indigenous groups in Brazil’s central western region, 65 with twenty-six minute episodes that take the form of a film letter addressed to each community’s future generations. 65 The thirteen groups are the Karajá, Awa, Javaé, Tapuia, Kuikuro, Kalapalo, Ikpeng, Kisêdjê, Kaiabi, Xavante, Terena, Guarani Kaiowá, Guarani Nandeva. See the YouTube trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBmHh8Y89RM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2TzIrix4mHMqD2F9_0yNBN74OLzUX5R8FAiQ1XmtIdMQl13rKoIK0uqdc 105 Looking back at VNA’s first workshops with the Kuikuro, where the films Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004), and Imbé Gikegü, The Scent of the Pequi Fruit (2006) were made, the relational dynamics with non-Indigenous filmmakers and workshop coordinators (Vincent Carelli and Leonardo Sette, and anthropologist Carlos Fausto) were decisive in Takumã’s trajectory, as well as the process of making the films and the final form the films took. This highlights the hybrid nature of VNA’s filmography and the negotiations and evolutions that took place over the course of VNA’s history. Carlos Fausto, who spoke Kuikuro, and obtained the funding for this first workshop in Ipatse village, and who was the one who invited VNA, had a particularly decisive role. He started out as a translator during the workshops, but eventually ended up co-authoring the highly acclaimed The Hyperwomen (2011). Carelli says, “There’s a difference between the Kuikuro films and those of other peoples, with the presence of Carlos Fausto in the [filmed] interviews. …Carlos’ contribution resides primarily in this anthropological approach, the research, the moments of conversation” (Carelli et al. 214). Indeed, Fausto is an extrovert, and as Carelli explains, his presence catalyzes situations (214). Fausto reflects on his role and says, “Sometimes I think that I work much more as mediator in the case of the Kuikuro, at least compared to other groups working with VNA. And sometimes I interfere too much, perhaps even hindering the growth of the filmmakers” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 215). This statement raises questions on the role of non-Indigenous interlocuters at VNA. Certainly, past collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers at VNA have been fruitful. Today, with the growing number of skilled Indigenous filmmakers, including Takumã, the need for collaborating with non-Indigenous filmmakers is less evident. Today, a number of VNA trained filmmakers, such as Takumã, work autonously and are in a position to chose their collaborators. Takumã has stated, “We don’t need a non-indigenous 106 person to come and make their films and own our images. We have the right over everything there; we can make our own films. I say this to my people so they can value our indigenous film work” (qtd. in Bastos). Takumã does, however, emphasize the need for sponsorship and equipment for Indigenous-owned projects and explains how a level of reciprocity can be achieved for non-Indigenous people who want to film in his community. VNA has also been instrumental in providing access to production and post-production equipment. Significantly, all of these dynamics—the social interactions and negotiations, the drama and performance of culture, and the inter-personal dynamics within the workshops—become a part of the VNA produced films and of Takumã’s trajectory. Takumã adds that at the beginning of his film career, the Elders would not let him or his colleagues film, as they were seen as too young; the Elders asked for the “whites” to film. Interestingly, as a result of this rejection by mostly male Elders when Takumã first started to film, these young male filmmakers (seventeen, eighteen years old) ended up filming their mothers (who were the only ones who accepted to be filmed by them) and consequently the early films have a strong female presence and perspective. As Fausto explains: The older people said: “What do you think you lot are doing with that camera? You’re young, you have to work… Some feminist friends have said to me: “Wow, I think it’s really important that you used female narrators!” Of course, I don’t contradict them, but the real reason why the women are narrating the films is that they were the only ones who would talk to their sons on camera. (Qtd. in Carelli et al. 214) The prominent role of strong female characters throughout VNA’s filmography, that goes against all stereotypes of the brown, racialized Indigenous female body in film history as depicted through a western and male gaze, is notable. Although Fausto may dismiss feminist readings in 107 the Kuikuro filmography, there is a strong case to be made for (non-western) feminist readings of female representation in the archive. While the choice to showcase women among Takumã’s earlier works was arguably due to a lack of choice of filmed subjects, these female narrators are filmed with respect, are shown as knowledge keepers, as humorous, and as powerful women in their community. This framing of women in the Kuikuro (and much of VNA’s filmography) positions these Indigenous women in roles that often demonstrates their integrity to the social-political well-being of their communities. While women are shown to have distinct gender roles and responsibility within the community, the indigenized gaze frames gender equality as part of a collective whole that at times underscores gender fluidity and one that values reciprocity and gender complementarity. 2.6 Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004) “The expression nguné elü, which I translate here by eclipse, literally means ‘moon murder.’” —Fausto, “Sangue de Lua” 63 In a footnote, Fausto clarifies, Nguné, the Moon, is the twin brother of Taugi, the Sun, in Kuikuro cosmology (“Sangue de Lua 63). Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004), directed by Takumã and Maricá Kuikuro, opens over a black screen with the sound of women’s voices singing and feet rhythmically stomping the earth. A wide shot of a projection in the right half of the screen reveals rows of women singing and dancing. The next shot cuts to Indigenous youth watching the projection, then cuts to footage of the full moon. The projection is interrupted by someone yelling, “Look at the moon. Spread tapioca powder on your face! An eclipse is taking place!” We see women and girls with white tapioca flour on their faces while men cover their faces with black charcoal. A man explains: “I’m covering myself in charcoal, so the moon’s 108 blood doesn’t stain my face.” The eclipse, which holds mythical powers and associated rituals for many Indigenous groups, is explained here through Kuikuro mythology and cosmology. A female character clarifies that “everyone transforms, all the animals transform. The armadillo turns into a stingray, and the snake turns into a fish.” Another female character describes how one can see the manioc plants dancing. While yet another woman explains, “If you go to the city, you might be run over by a car. That’s why we don’t wander around during an eclipse.” Here we see the local intersect with rural, national, and urban, as the dangers of the city and of the forest are both highlighted during the time of the lunar eclipse. Figure 2-6 Screen shots from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, with permission from VNA Fausto recalls how, in November of 2003, he was in Ipatse village with Carelli, conducting a second workshop to finish the film Imbé Gikegü, The Scent of the Pequi Fruit (in Carelli et al. 215). The village was watching a film when the eclipse started to happen.66 He 66 Fausto recalls that they were watching the film Quest for Fire (1981), a French-Canadian adventure film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. “We were watching Quest for Fire and just in the scene where the embers are going out… as an aside, because I’m very hairy, the Indians 109 explains how Jakalu, a community member, asked Carelli to turn off the film as the villagers had to play flutes; the men went to the center of the village to play the ceremonial and sacred flutes, while people in their houses woke up their objects by hitting them. Carelli says of the genesis of this film: “It was all very quick. The rituals began that same night. It was kind of nerve-wracking for us there and things were already happening. When they stood up and went to play the flutes, we decided to change the course of the work. We knew we had a film” (Carelli et al. 216). In fact, the film is part documentation and part reconstruction of what took place in the village during this lunar eclipse, as well as a sort of quest to understand how the moon, considered male, can menstruate. Takumã adds his recollection of the filming process: The next day Vincent suggested it would be a good idea to film everything associated with the eclipse. People still didn’t trust us, the workshops had yet to produce anything. … But we explained that we were learning still and we talked about the importance of this documentation. Various festivals take place after the eclipse, young people go to fetch plant remedies to strengthen their bodies. We say that when the moon menstruates, blood falls on us and everyone has to stay awake. (Takumã qtd. in Carelli et al. 216) A scene in the film, where a man is hitting various objects, pots and pans, and saying “Wake up! Wake up! It’s an eclipse! The moon is showing his face,” reveals another moment where different worlds collide, as Japanese technology and Indigenous mythology coincide under the spell of the lunar eclipse. As he is hitting the television, telling it to “wake up”, it always say I’m descended from the monkey… a Kuikuro friend said: ‘Are you watching? Didn’t I tell you the whites come from monkeys!’ (Fausto et al., Vídeo nas aldeias 25 anos: 1986-2011 215). 110 spontaneously turns on (see Figure 2-7). Fausto later explains how this scene was constructed by having someone off screen use a remote control to switch the television on just when the character hits it to wake it up (in Carelli et al. 216). Carelli stresses that: “one of the striking features of the Kuikuro life is that everything turns into fiction”, as is evident in this and other Kuikuro films that blur ethnography, documentary, myth, and fiction. Another contributing factor to the Kuikuro’s tendency toward fiction in their films, in addition to Kuikuro cosmology and ritual practices, is the historical context of having been heavily pictured by others. There is an acute consciousness of their image in relation to the non-Indigenous other. Figure 2-7 Screen shot from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, shown with permission from VNA The performance of Indigeneity in the Kuikuro’s filmography is part of a global politics and part of their own cosmopolitics. Fausto notes how the Kuikuro “make use of this image in various circumstances. They are skilled at using it, well versed in discussing how they are going to present themselves” (in Carelli et al. 214). Graham and Penny’s discussion of “Performing Indigeneity” is relevant here: “When Indigeneity emerged as a legal and juridical category during the Cold War era, Indigenous cultural performance and display became essential to its 111 articulation, even its substantiation” (1). In this sense, the Kuikuro’s and Takumã’s filmography can be seen as part of a performative and dialogic process which challenges conceptualizations of Indigeneity, offering new embodiments and ever-shifting definitions through film and video. In the Kuikuro village, during the time of the eclipse and the following day, a series of rituals are performed as the separation between the living and the dead becomes blurred; all beings and spirit animals, itseke, are evoked, are out and about, are transforming.67 A shaman (pajé Tehuku) 68 explains how he smoked and entered into a trance where he was taken away unconscious to the place of the dead. “‘Look’”, the deceased told me, ‘it’s his daughter who’s menstruating’” explains the shaman. “All the spirit animals were dancing.” The idea that menstrual blood falls on the earth during an eclipse justifies throwing out all of the food and drinks which have become contaminated. Young people drink herbs in order to vomit, as part of an act to reject the moon’s blood which has impregnated their bodies. Male singers paint their bodies, dance and sing. Women walk towards the village center to dance. One woman explains: “We’re singing after the eclipse, we’re awakening the Hyper Women festival.” The shamans go around the village performing various rituals and cleanses, healing the sick for a much cheaper price than they usually charge. We see a shaman showing a small object between his fingers, and explaining, “This is what was inside her. This is what the shamans extract from people. This is the spirit-animals’ dart.” The camera pulls back from a close-up of the shaman’s fingers to a medium shot where we see the shaman wearing nothing but a t-shirt which reads ‘digital 67 Translated as “animal spirit,” itseke can have a threatening presence and “capture people’s souls” (Fausto, “Sangue de Lua” 66) 68 The word “pajé” in Portuguese is translated as “shaman” or “medicine man.” 112 revolution’ (see Figure 2-8). Again, different technologies and knowledge systems collide and intersect in interesting, intentional, and unintentional ways in this film. The same shaman with the “digital revolution” t-shirt says, “We’re going around like this curing all of the children after the eclipse.” A woman explains that, during the eclipse, the shamans, who are normally very expensive, perform their duties at a much cheaper rate; the whole community benefits from this altered economy. The shamans go from house to house, being paid with bars of soap, fish hooks, matches, and fishing line. Figure 2-8 Screen shot from Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, shown with permission from VNA In another article, Fausto recalls how, when the filmmakers showed the rough cut of the film to the community for the first time in June 2004, the chiefs asked to redo the filming without all of the things from the whites, “bicycles, watches, lighters, and the shaman’s t-shirt that said digital revolution” (Fausto “Registering” 15). Community discussions around complex issues of self-representation to ever more global audiences have become integral to VNA’s embedded aesthetics, relational dynamics, and hard negotiations. It was Maricá Kuikuro who stood up and defended the film, explaining that it was a documentary and not a fiction film; 113 Fausto explains how after much discussion, they kept the original footage (Fausto, “Registering” 15). Tensions between a desire to preserve cultural congruency and tradition on the part of the chiefs and Maricá’s insistence on documentary “realism” reveals generational and cinematic strains within the community, while ultimately invigorating nuanced perspectives on self-representation. Indeed, the Kuikuro’s distinct cinematic production often hovers between tensions and fluidities within documentary, fiction, ethnography, and mythology and the presence of coinciding technologies and cosmologies. The pajé Tehuku, who went into trance, explains “I listened to the festival of the spirit-animals. They danced all the festivals. While I was still in trance they were awakening the kagutu flutes. While it’s day here, there it’s night.” In this altered time/ space where everything transforms, the film ends with a question about how the moon, who is male, can menstruate. A filmmaker asks his mother: “Why does the moon menstruate?” “It’s his daughter who menstruates” she answers. Another woman says, “from a man he turns into a woman.” Yet another woman says: “The moon is a man, they were born as two men: Sun and Moon. Afterwards they transformed into women. How can that be?” And the screen fades to black before the credits roll. Of interest is that this conclusion underscores a non-western feminist gaze that further suggests gender fluidity among the Kuikuro. In both Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated (2004) and in Pi’õnhitsi: The Unnamed Xavante Women (2009) performance, singing and dancing as sacred and collective acts are shown as integral to Xavante and Kuikuro cultural continuity and identity. The fragility of the perseverance of these performances, rituals, dances, and songs is highlighted in both films. In Nguné Elü, The Day the Moon Menstruated, the lunar eclipse becomes an altered yet critical space/ time to activate and remember sacred songs, dances, myths, rituals, festivals, and 114 performances. The cinematic choices of what to include, the filmed cultural performances, the filmed interviews, the performed rituals and restaging of events in both films effectively present alternate value systems coexisting and interacting. The ritualized and sacred elements, often staged and performed for the camera, imply self-reflective engagements and discussions on what to show and what to withhold, while embodying a spectrum of unfixed possibilities for understanding Indigeneity, identity, and sovereignty. Also applicable to the cinematic context of Kuikuro and Xavante cinema is Graham’s comment in her discussion of public performances of the hula in Hawaii, that such public performances “teach others about themselves and their culture through emotive enactment, expression, signification, and explicit self-formation” (Graham and Penny 12). Sky Hopinka, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, adds to the reflection on the complex roles of Indigeneity and cinema when he says, “An Indigenous lens is not only about the way that we look at the world but also how we look at ourselves, how we see ourselves, how we listen to each other, and how we understand that we’re okay” (“An Indigenous Lens”). In this way, cultural performances in Indigenous-authored cinema become a means to both individually and collectively manage one’s self-image, while dialogically renewing, healing, and strengthening conceptions and discussions of Indigeneity, cultural identity, and Indigenous sovereignty among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. Beyond spectacular acoustic and visual performances, Graham and Penny also highlight the emotive in the experience of performing Indigeneity: “highly audible and visible expressions of Indigeneity… [these] performances and their internal dynamics can teach us much about what it means to ‘be’ Indigenous and what matters for people who claim this identity” (13). In this 115 way, Indigenous cinema, as stated by Hopinka, is a “tool to frame our perspectives” (“An Indigenous Lens”). Considering the hybrid nature of VNA’s filmography, involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborators, the Indigenous identities represented cannot be essentialized, nor viewed only in a local context. Indigenous identities within these cinematic objects are constantly being negotiated in relation to local, national, international, and global arenas, and reflect the specificity of the historical moment in time when they are being produced, viewed, analyzed and critiqued. In relation to the futurity of Indigenous cinema, Takumã explains that “we have a strong belief in film, that the camera is fed with people’s soul, meaning when we film someone, we capture them in video, and as long as the films are seen, people in them will live forever within the community” (qtd. in Bastos). The emphasis on the act of viewership as activating longevity and futurity speaks to the role and responsibility of an audience to bear witness to these films; his statement also reflects on the inter-relationships between memory, archive, and performance. VNA’s filmography must thus be viewed within these multiples spheres in time and space, as part of a subset of performed negotiations at each level within the local, cross-cultural, Indigenous / non-Indigenous, rural / urban, national/ international etc. The articulations of Indigenous practices through performance and documentation at VNA function on external (audio-visual) and internal (emotive/ spiritual) levels, constituting expressions and embodiments of a specific cosmopolitics, as part of declaration of representational sovereignty. 116 Chapter 3: Locating Sovereignty in the Auto-Ethnographic Poetics of Daily Existence in Three Amazonian Films “Cinema here is a shared experience of affirmation of language, rituals, food – in other words, a celebration of the everyday life of each village.” — Andréa França, cited in Corrêa et al. 30 The theme of daily life in the village is a common one in VNA’s filmography; we see Mari Corrêa’s influence in these films. Corrêa, who joined VNA’s team in 1998 and co-directed VNA with Carelli until 2009, articulates the idea of “filming nothing” (2004) as part of a cinematic approach in the workshops (Corrêa et al., Mostra Vídeo). The discussion of “culture” in VNA’s filmography is thus broadened to include, for instance, “the way in which children are cared for, the vegetable garden, food preparation…”, which all appear “as elements and manifestations of culture” (Corrêa et al., Mostra Vídeo). In this chapter I analyze the diversity of cinematic treatments of and approaches to the theme of daily life in an Indigenous village by comparing, contrasting, and examining how three films construct, embody, and experience everyday communal life through culturally specific methods of inquiry. In particular, I explore concepts of time, the senses, creativity, and the relations between the individual and the collectivity, as all of the above are cinematically rendered in the intimacy, performance, and daily life in three Amazonian films. The first film is Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village (2003), co-directed by Sawá Waimiri, Iawysy Waimiri, Sanapyty Atroari, Wamé Atroari, Araduwá Waimiri, and Kabaha Waimiri, featuring the Waimiri Atroari or Kinja people of the Cacau 117 village.70 The second film is Shomõtsi (2001), directed by Wewito Piyãko and featuring the Asháninka of Apiwtxa village. The last one is Kiarãsã Tõ Sâty, The Agouti’s Peanut (2005), co-directed by Paturi Panará and Komoi Panará, featuring the Panará people of Nasepotiti village. While chosen for their meditation on daily life, their geographical location within the Amazon, and their production period between 2001-2005, these films also provide the opportunity to discuss their relationship to “imperfect media” (Córdova and Salazar), and the “cosmological embeddedness of the everyday” (Overing and Passes 298). Framed as an alternative and creative site of knowledge production, these three works articulate a micropolitics that repoliticizes a practice of daily life. Certainly, all three films meditate on the inter-connections and inter-dependency between self and community, including animals, the sentient environment, and a greater cosmic order that is embodied and practiced in daily existence. I argue how these alternative visions of society and sociality repoliticize and ultimately reframe understandings of knowledge and power within a micro-politics of Indigenous ways of being and knowing in everyday practice. 3.1 Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village (2003) This forty-minute documentary on life in a Kinja village is the only film in VNA’s archive located within the Kinja community; it stands out for its meditative beauty. The film is an intimate communion with nature, highlighting the artful skill and performance of everyday 70 Kinja people is the term used by the Waimiri Atroari for themselves and I will therefore use Kinja to refer to this group of Indigenous people. For more, see: pib.socioambiental.org/en/povo/waimiri-atroari 118 existence as informal, intimate, and extraordinary. The Kinja are a forest people who dwell in the north part of the state of Amazonas and the south part of the state of Roraima, in the region of the tributaries on the left bank of the Baixo River Negro and the River Amazonas, and in the basins of the rivers Alalaú, Camanaú, Curiaú and Igarapé Santo Antonio do Abonari (Baines, “Waimiri-Atroari Resistance” 214). The Kinja are Carib speakers. According to 2016 statistics, their population had risen from 374 people in 1986 to 2,009 in 2018 (“Terra Indígena”). Part of their recent history includes the violent genocidal massacre that occurred during the twenty-one-year Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985), “According to a report recently issued by the State of Amazonas Truth Commission, at least 2,000 Waimiri-Atroari Indians disappeared during the right-wing military dictatorship, killed by agents of the state” (Branford “Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous Massacre”). According to this same report, there were approximately 3,000 Kinja people in the area in 1968. The records and statistics before 1968 seem to vary greatly, as reported by different anthropologists and the SPI. However, violations of human rights, loss of population as a result of genocide and epidemics, and the systemic invasion and appropriation of Indigenous land are not unique to the Kinja people; the above tragic truths are recurrent in Latin American Indigenous peoples’ history and pervasive in Brazil’s history with its Indigenous peoples.71 The Kinja peoples’ recent history reveals the collaboration of private interests and the 71 For a deeper understanding of the history of the Kinja people, see Claudia Voigt Espinola’s dissertation, O Sistema Médico Waimiri Atroari: concepções e prácticas, (1995). 119 state in strategically stripping them of their statutory rights (Baines 1991),72 a point I will return to later. The film Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village (2003) is a cinematic expression of the artful skill of everyday existence in a Kinja community, by six filmmakers from six Kinja villages. This VNA production came out of a workshop in the Kinja village known as the Cacau village under the coordination of Vincent Carelli and Leonardo Sette. The filmmaking process reaffirms the collective nature of communal daily life by intercutting footage from each of the six filmmakers into a single meditation on the daily life of a Kinja community; the film effectively takes us through a day in an imagined single Kinja village. We witness in this collaged village, as is the case with many Amazonian peoples, how daily existence revolves around activities including hunting, fishing, weaving, making houses, caring for children within a community, and converting animals and plants into edible food. Interestingly, the Xavante films discussed in the last chapter distinctively place emphasis on the practice of ritual events where rules and obedience are highlighted, while the Kuikuro emphasize the dramatic enactments and performances of Kuikuro cosmology in their filmography. The Kinja’s enactment of daily life is distinctively marked by informal and intimate interactions between community members and nature. Ritual and artistic production belong to the realm of the everyday and are interwoven into the informal and intimate relationships between individuals, the collective, and their environment. 72 For an in-depth discussion on this history, “Dispatch: The Waimiri-Atroari and the Paranapanema Company” and “Waimiri-Atroari Resistance in the Presence of an Indigenist Policy of ‘Resistance’” by Stephen G. Baines. 120 Several anthropologists have written about the intense conviviality and the “aesthetics of community” of Amazonian societies (Overing, Passes, Santos Granero, and Viveiros de Castro, to name a few). The term ‘conviviality’ is not used here in the usual English sense of being jovial, hearty, and festive, but rather to mean co-existing, sharing, and living together in harmony, a translation of the word “convivir” (living together) in Portuguese (Overing, Passes 2000). Many ethnographic studies by non-Indigenous observers of Amazonian culture have created a polarized image and discussion, by portraying Amazonian peoples as either fierce and warring (Chagnon) or peaceful and benign (Goldman). These tropes have fed the western imagination of the Amazonian other as either “Noble Savage” or “Pagan Cannibal.” As Overing claims, “There has been a very long history of Europe’s creation of its imaginary worlds of Amazonia and its accompanying discourse on lack, and on the cannibal, pathological other” (Overing and Passes 11). Considering the precedence of a dominant and supremacist European mental framework in what has been a largely European monologue, VNA’s filmography speaks back to this history of anthropology by reversing the gaze and eliminating the imposed framework of non-Indigenous observers. Indeed, my discussion and film analysis seek to understand and study the context of each film’s production, geo-specific history, community, cosmology, etc., and how this context forms part of a whole body of knowledge and thought. My intention here is to dialogue with the cinematic texts and the different ways they convey knowledge, seeing the world and being in it. I also explore how within a pluraversal conception of the world, and as part of VNA’s hybridized collaborations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous gazes meet, clash, co-exist, and interact. I have found Overing’s exploration of “the relation of aesthetics to virtues and affective life within a variety of Amazonian cultures” (Overing and Passes xi) to be particularly 121 productive and pertinent to my discussion of Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village. In this film we witness an art of feeding, speaking, working, and nurturing; these activities are both aesthetic and moral experiences, as they relate to a collective good. A Bolivian activist and sociologist of Aymara descent, Silvera Rivera Cusicanqui, affirms that thought must be produced from the everyday (Barber). Overing articulates the relationship of the individual to the collective in Amazonian society as “the self who belongs to a collective is an independent self, and that the very creation of the collective is dependent upon such autonomous selves…” (2). This is important to this cinematic discussion and is expressed through Indigenous eyes and voices in this film where we witness moments of distinct individual expressions of self and interconnections to a larger, social, and cosmic whole. As Overing sums up, “Amazonian sociality cannot be understood without the backdrop of the wider cosmic and inter-community and intertribal relationships” (Overing and Passes 6). A philosophy of being, and a politics of co-existence with and within the cosmos is thus expressed through a filmed repertoire of daily practices. Kinja Iakaha begins with a dark, slightly blurry close-up shot of burning wood and embers, conjuring a site and scene where stories are told. As viewers, we are observing a beginning–to a story, to a film, to the start of the day in the Cacau Kinja village. The idea of time is relevant here in framing the film; the time of the film, the time of the village, and the time of storytelling which all co-exist in this film, yet reference different experiences of time. We hear a male voice-over: “Let’s wake up people. Who will get food for us? Let’s go to the forest and hunt game for our children. We have to think about this.” The soothing sounds of women’s singing voices fade in and are heard as the opening title appears on-screen. In the darkness of dawn, the theme of survival, along with the beauty and musicality of female singing voices, sets 122 the tone and structure for the film. In effect, the film takes us through a day of life in a Kinja community with little explanation or commentary. Instead, we witness the unfolding of diurnal time in an immersive trajectory from dawn until dusk through a series of shots, scenes and sequences of the activities of community members that form the social structure of Kinja existence. Daily life is far from tedious or boring; the ordinary becomes extraordinary, as we are immersed in a creative practice of co-existence with nature and community through an art of existence and sociality. In my analysis, I pay particular attention to the details of everyday skills as the latter connect to the metaphysical and the beauty of consciously experiencing communion with the natural world. Everyday skills, duties, and responsibilities, form part of a sociality which speaks to the intellectual and aesthetic integrity of the filmmakers woven within this Kinja community. We hear diegetic sounds of the village waking up with people shuffling around, roosters crowing, birds chirping, and the sun rising. This opening sequence establishes our location in a Kinja village at the beginning of a new day. After warming up by the fire, a woman walks toward an older man sitting casually on a hammock with a stick. He announces, “It’s time to hit the bum.” The Elder proceeds to tap her front abdomen and backside a couple of times with a stick. Shots of women and children lining up for this morning practice, done without formality, explanation, or ceremony, are interspersed with shots of people warming up by the fire, grooming themselves and each other, and preparing food (see Figure 3-1). As people gather around to eat tortoise, we hear a man say “we need to find food if we want to eat well.” “You have to fish,” another man tells his son, who appears to be no older than ten years of age. The centrality of food and productive labour are thus evidenced as part of the order of the day, underscoring the relationship to land, water and territory. 123 Figure 3-1 Screen shots from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, with permission from VNA The fourth wall is broken when a small child looks at the camera and points, making funny faces.73 He is scolded by his mother. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the film could only have been made with the deep knowledge of, and membership in this Kinja community. For example, the camera follows two boys setting out to fish in a canoe. Then in synchronicity with the two characters, following them in their canoe as they paddle down a river to a shady spot, the camera’s invisible presence immerses us into their universe. We float in a canoe, along a shaded river, taking in rippling reflections of tropical trees. The film cuts from a shot of the boys fishing to a wide shot of the village. A woman exits the large communal round-house; as the camera follows her walking, she explains that she is going to make a carpet so that her husband can sit and make crafts. The camera, embodied by a Kinja member, sets the point of view as though we were also seated on the ground with this woman among her materials (palm fronds and straw) as she prepares to weave. Here, artistic production and the beautifying of daily 73 The fourth wall is a performance convention where the fourth wall is the imaginary barrier between performers and audience. Breaking the fourth wall in film is when a filmed subject looks or speaks directly to the camera and therefore to the audience breaking the illusion of an invisible wall. 124 existence belong to the realm of the quotidian. She explains her weaving process, while her toddler daughter sitting next to her playing with the strips of palm and straw undoes most of her efforts at organizing her work. She philosophizes, saying: “I also wrecked the straw like that when I was little. (…) With time, she will learn.” An intimate relationship to the community through moving image and spoken word forms the narrative syntax of the film as it communicates a lived experience while also revealing approaches to parenting and teaching. From a close-up of the beginnings of this woven carpet, the camera cuts to two men, armed with long sticks and a knife, entering the forest. The first half of the film moves between the two boys fishing, the reflection of the trees, sky, and clouds rippling on the water’s surface, to the men in the forest, perched high in the trees, gathering wood from the tauari tree,74 and women caring for small children and weaving. Cusicanqui (2010) comments on the precolonial (prehispanic) image of the woman weaver (in Andean culture) and the connection between labour and moral order (“Sociología de la imagen” 26). In the context of the film, her articulation of “recuperating the notion of conviviality” (“Sociología de la imagen” 26) connects to the image of the woman weaver here, post-colonization and post-genocide, as a politic and practice of decolonizing labour. Labour is often performed collectively for the common good, through a relationship to ritualized time and communion with nature that break with Gregorian calendar time and with capitalist chains of production and labour exploitation. In Kinja Iakaha, the scenes of these different characters and their various activities are not individualized, as occurs in some other VNA produced films such as Shomõtsi that I will 74 The tauari tree or Couratari tauari is a species of tree from the Lecythidaceae family only found in Brazil. It is threatened by habitat loss. (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/35436/0) 125 discuss later in this chapter. Here, the cinematic vision translates as a meditation on daily existence through the portrayal of multiple community members who form part of an inter-subjective whole. The collaged village and six cameras form a singular village. At times, these characters talk to the camera explaining their daily practices. Their way of addressing the camera is intimate and affectionate, we sense the embodiment of the camera as a part of their collective entity; the camera as a non-human presence is incorporated into daily ritual. The film can thus be positioned as a micropolitical act of resistence to western and anthropocentric hegemonies of individualism. More than a politics of representation, this is also a politics of articulation (Haraway 311). Haraway’s articulation of the “Amazonian Biosphere” as an “irreducibly human/ non-human entity” (311) is relevant to this politics of articulation, as witnessed in all three Amazonia films discussed here. Further, her discussion of a corporeal theory, and the “body as collective” (311) is pertinent to this Kinja cinematic praxis. Corporeal theory is relevant to this scene, when the film cuts to a POV of a man perched in the heights of the tree with a stick and knife, the camera floating next to him. The man in the tauari tree explains to the camera person how to remove wood without killing the tree. He then adds, “A long time ago, our grandparents killed the whites who took the bark from here.” This is the first mention of the white world, hinting at a violent history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Indeed, most of Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village meditates on convivial and harmonious interactions between fellow village members and their natural environment, with an emphasis on everyday skills and egalitarian relationships; only a few moments of the film allude to violent histories and conflict. In another scene, we see young boys (five or six years old) shooting arrows at a banana tree. One child looks into the camera and says: “The banana trees are the whites. We are killing the whites” (see Figure 3-2). In this scene, we witness the 126 anger and imagine the forces that are destructive to the tranquility and harmony thus far established in the film. In the realm of documentary, there is always a bigger picture left out of the frame, a narrative and universe in the space behind the camera. Here, and in any documentary, the unseen and untold can be said to form a subtext and backdrop for the depicted and edited spacetime. As the young boys aim their arrows at a banana tree, a long history of violent invasions of Kinja territories and dishonest manipulations and dispossessions of their image, identity, and land are shown to be present in Kinja daily consciousness and evoked in the space beyond the frame. Figure 3-2 Screen shots from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, shown with persmission from VNA After surviving mass invasions of their territories by the federal government in the 1960s through large-scale development projects such as the Pitinga tin mine by the Paranapanema Group, the implementation of a highway (BR-174) through their territory, and the construction of the Balbina Hydroelectric Scheme by Eletronorte in the 1970s (Baines, “Waimiri-Atroari Resistance” 214), the Waimiri Atroari (Kinja people) were often depicted by non-Indigenous Brazilians as exemplars of Indigenous resistance. This image, manipulated by Eletronorte as part of their propaganda campaign, helped construct the image of the Waimiri Atroari as a warrior people (Baines, “Waimiri-Atroari Resistance” 213-14). According to ISA’s webpage on the 127 Waimiri Atroari, the latter hold a place in the Brazilian imaginary as a warrior people “who confronted and killed any outsiders who tried to enter their territory” (Do Vale). As Baines explains: “The indigenist policy administration constructs and mediatizes images of the Waimiri Atroari, nationally and internationally, incorporating them in its intensive marketing policy” (“Waimiri-Atroari Resistance” 212). Interestingly, Baines cites a documentary film on the Waimiri by the Waimiri Atroari Program (PWA)75 that was shown on national television in 1994 as part of Eletronorte’s propaganda campaign. The film omitted demographic information on the Waimiri Atroari and “pompously alleged, at the end of the film, that the PWA ‘seems to have averted the extinction of a people’” (Baines, “Waimiri-Atroari Resistance” 219). This strategy by Eletronorte to create a rhetoric of ecological concern for large scale development in the Amazon region, through documentary film and other mass media channels situates VNA’s project as a vital counter-narrative within an asymmetrical social-historical, political and economic system. Significantly, VNA’s project, embodied in its filmography, reclaims and decolonizes the ongoing colonization of the Indigenous imaginary through a growing cinematic movement of visual and representational sovereignty. Thus, as Córdova and Salazar state in their discussion Imperfect Media and the Poetics of Indigenous Video in Latin America, “At the heart of this emerging Indigenous video movement in Latin America, we see a process grounded in local struggles for political self-determination, cultural and linguistic autonomy, and legal recognition, with potentially transnational and pan-American implications” (40). In line with Córdova and Salazar, I argue that the decolonization of the Indigenous imaginary through film and video has far-reaching 75 PWA (programa Waimiri Atroari) in Portuguese, as part of Eletronorte. 128 repercussions off-screen and beyond national borders. In the context of the cinematic universes represented at VNA, we witness modes of knowing, modes of conceiving daily life, modes of conceiving conviviality, and co-existence, that together can culminate in changes of consciousness. Córdova and Salazar, in their discussion of Indigenous film and video in Latin America, are essentially “updating and recontextualizing Julio García Espinosa’s notion of imperfect cinema” (41), by positioning Indigenous film and video as a distinct and complex field of cultural production. They articulate how Indigenous video production “inhabits its own representational space,” distinct from ethnographic film or non-Indigenous documentary media and production. Although the term “poetics” originates in the Greek notion of poiesis,76 Córdova and Salazar’s discussion refers to a specific poetics of Indigenous media that “considers the social practices involved in making (Indigenous) culture visible through video media” (40). Social relationships are reimagined through the moving image and what Faye Ginsburg (1994) has called “embedded aesthetics.” In Kinja Iakaha, the poetics of self-representation are located in making culture visible through a practice and aesthetics of everyday activities and interactions that are carried out, for the most part, with intention, affection, and love. Certainly, constructive and destructive forces are mutually at play; as Overing puts it so well, “If there is love and compassion to everyday practice that are engendering of its beauty, there is its danger as well; the possibility of a practice gone wrong, and of becoming an ugly, destructive manifestation of anger and hate” (21). Just as histories of violence and the destructive forces that threaten the 76 Poiesis from, Ancient Greek is a kind of making, creating, and bringing something into being (see Wikipedia for more). 129 harmony of the community are alluded to through children’s play, we also experience laughter, joking, and playfulness as part of the good health of the community. After a torrential rainfall, a group of youths are pictured in the forest. A young girl teases a boy high up in the trees when she says, “Oh yeah? Then it’s serious. You really are my boyfriend. Joking aside, are you my boyfriend?” She gives the slightest nod and subtle wink to the camera as the camera travels from a close-up of her casually leaning against a tree in the forest with other young women in the background to a medium shot of a young woman with her baby, as she looks up to the tree and says, “He said no,” and we hear laughter (see Figure 3-3). The camera cuts between men making a new house with the use of the strips from the tauari bark collected in the morning, to men fishing and hunting, and to the young women joking as they climb trees to collect açaí. One says to another, “We’ll see your underwear.” “There’s no problem,” the girl responds as they laugh and tease each other from a low angle view of the girls up in the trees. Figure 3-3 Screen shot from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village with persmission from VNA 130 From a close-up of the women’s hands collecting the açaí fruit to a medium close-up of two women picking the fruit off the açaí palm, one says jesting, “We don’t need men.” The other explains, “we’re going to prepare this açaí for the men who went hunting for us.” Work and play are experienced together as a social activity where work serves a social purpose. By working alongside other people in a social ambience, as viewers, we experience the emotionally pleasurable moments the characters are sharing on-screen. We see the hunters as they skillfully hunt their prey in an atmosphere of good humour and affection for their prey, each other, and the families they will feed. One hunter remarks, “This alligator is wise.” We cut to a wide shot of a group of women exiting the forest single file. One woman says, “We are all beautiful. I’m not fat. I’ll lose weight.”77 Laughter is heard and the next shot shows them returning to the village with plant food as they enter the communal house. The film cuts to the hunters returning single file down a forest path with their catch. Time is marked by this collective return to the village with plant and animal sustenance which will be prepared into meals, including the day’s final meal. The temporal experience of the film is synched with the temporal experience of the village’s daily rhythm, when almost exactly halfway through this forty-minute film (19.36mins), and halfway through the day, we see a wide-shot of the communal round house under a tropical 77 To feminist western ears these remarks appear contradictory in terms of body image. I would argue that the spirit in which they are said are very much in jest and therefore cannot be taken too literally. The tone and atmosphere are more about “making fun” in the sense of having fun and joking around rather than any real critical view of an imperfect female body that isn’t living up to an idealized standard of beauty. 131 downpour. The sound perspective allows us to feel the full impact of the force of the downpour as we hear, more than see, its intensity. The rain marks a shift in activity where time seems to slow down; the camera cuts to a medium close-up of an Elder weaving a basket, as he explains that when it rains like this, “We make crafts. Our grandparents made arrows and after they would go out to hunt. We continue doing the same thing to this day.” We see the hunters with their arrows and spears, beautified by colourful feathers and ornamentation, venture out after the rains. The temporal worlds contained within the film-time—the natural world, cultural life, ritual life, the narrative of the characters, their stories and ancestral histories, the diurnal cycles in this Kinja village—are all effectively woven together and synchronized. We are immersed in a complicit view of a patterned culture that reveals its distinct temporalities and poetics. As we begin to near the end of the film (35mins) and the light signals a later time of day, the film cuts from the women and young girls cooking to the same man preparing for another daily ritual. A young girl hands the man a paca (a large pig-sized animal from the rodent family). He grabs the animal by its hind legs and passes its dead body over the front and back of her body. After many children and adult men and women have lined up to have their bodies rubbed by the dead animal’s hind legs and body, the camera person asks, “Why are you doing that? Why do you pass the paca’s body over people?” The man answers: “This is to protect women during pregnancy, so they don’t miscarry. It serves as a protection during the time of giving birth so our children are born healthy.” We hear this voice-over while the camera travels behind a young woman carrying the dead animal on her back before throwing it on the fire, as it is prepared to be eaten after its ritual job is completed. 132 Figure 3-4 Screen shot from Kinja Iakaha, A day in the village, with persmission from VNA The film’s cinematic language embodied in the camera’s immersive gaze, is connected to the Kinja aesthetics of community, showing how “affect and intimacy” are “linked to Amazonian sociality…” (Overing and Passes 19). The Elder’s role, seems to be to ensure the healthy fertility of this community by performing the ritual of placing the paca’s body on the bodies of the next generation of youth (see Figure 3-4). This rich language of communal life as fertile becomes part of the cultural logic of the filmmaking process, in this film and as part of VNA’s praxis. As a body of thought and knowledge, VNA’s filmography counters the grands récits of cinema and prevailing Eurocentric foundations, contesting the manipulated images and supposed identities of Indigenous peoples implicit in dominant media production. Instead, this film presents a visual meditation on the poetics and rhythm of Kinja life, centered on conceptions of community, affect, and living well. In this way, the film’s semiotics of conviviality and collaboration in everyday existence provides a micro-political strategy that intervenes to challenge capitalist social processes and temporalities. A sovereign space-time is thus articulated through a cinematic consciousness that expresses and theorizes the micropolitics of Kinja ways of being, 133 through quotidian acts. Overing’s observations of Amazonian life based on an anthropology of the everyday are pertinent to this cinematic context: “The idea that there is an aesthetics involved in belonging to a community of relations that conjoins body, thought and affect is widespread in Amazonia…” (Overing and Passes 19). In VNA’s filmography, the everyday is far from irrelevant or tedious. Indeed, daily life is practical and necessary for survival, while it also reveals itself as a conscious, creative, cosmological experience and practice. As a result, a number of VNA films, including Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village, can be analyzed from the perspective of an ethnography of the everyday, of the ordinary, and of the local. This film teaches us a lot about Kinja thinking, about the art of social living, and about being in the world; the cinematic gaze immerses viewers in a daily practice imbued with conscious acts of relating to community and the cosmos. The film’s ending sequence pictures women, as they gather in the communal house with children slung around their bodies. The camera moves around them as one of the women asks, “How does it begin?” “With the song of the stick,” responds another. This comment connects to the scene of the stick ritual, shown in the morning at the beginning of the film. The women form two lines facing each other; they start to dance and sing, moving forward and backward towards each other, with the sounds of their voices and feet on the earth being heard. The film ends with close-ups, low-angle and wide shots of the women dancing and singing. A sound bridge is created as we hear the singing and sound of feet rhythmically pounding the earth over a final scene of women bathing and washing by a river as the sun makes it descent. We hear the synchronous sounds of water and scrubbing, as the women wash clothes and bathe with the continuous sound of their singing and dancing over the image. The final shot is of four silhouetted figures, women and children with a setting sun behind them; the audio of the singing and the synchronous and diegetic sound of water and scrubbing, 134 acoustically and visually suture a full diurnal cycle in the Cacau village. It is the same singing we hear at the beginning of the film. 3.2 Shomõtsi (2001) Shomõtsi starts with an establishing wide shot of an Asháninka village at dawn. We hear the sounds of life in an Amazonian Indigenous village awakening: birds chirping, roosters crowing, and dogs barking. An edited montage shows us medium wide shots and close-ups of animals, dogs, and parrots; then the film cuts to a long shot of our protagonist, an older man in his late 50s or 60s, as he walks, the hand-held camera following him. He collects chopped wood to make a fire. A voice-over tells us: “Shomõtsi is the name of a hummingbird which is small and red and lives in our forest. Shomõtsi is also a name of a character who you will meet in this movie.” We follow Shomõtsi in his morning perambulations. The narrator and filmmaker, Wewito Piyãko, explains to the viewer in the voice-over that he chose Shomõtsi because he lives near his house in the Asháninka village called Apiwtxa. Wewito goes on to say, “I’m going to show you how he lives day by day in this film.” The use of voice-over narration in VNA’s filmography after the early 1997 filmmaking workshops is rare. Here, the Asháninka filmmaker’s voice-over is distinct from VNA’s early films’ voice-over narrations, which were typified by the omnipresent, all knowing, authoritative voice of a non-Indigenous person (e.g. The Girl’s Celebration (1987), directed by Vincent Carelli). Wewito Piyãko’s voice-over in Shomõtsi does not mark him as an outsider or as a purportedly objective, all-knowing narrator. Although Wewito is looking at his world, even objectifying it from the standpoint of a filmmaker, the material effect of his voice combined with the intimacy of his camera’s gaze, 135 brings him into Shomõtsi’s social sphere and positions Wewito as another character in the film. In this context, Wewito explains his privileged relationship with Shomõtsi: My relationship with Shomõtsi preceded the film. I lived close to his small house and we would chat a lot. He was a teacher to me, he taught me about our culture. He was the one who taught me how to sing. In the workshop when we discussed who would accompany who, I already knew I would film him. (Qtd. in Carelli et al. 208-209) We never actually see Wewito; yet our entire cinematic experience is embodied through his camera movements, and the point of view is all through his camera’s eye. In short, we go where he chooses for us to go; we see what he chooses for us to see, and we hear his voice telling us what he wants us to know about Shomõtsi and his world. As a result of this subjective camera, questions often arise and are left unanswered or open ended in a more self-reflexive and distinctively authorial tone. Of interest here is that Wewito’s shooting ratio for this film was unusually low at approximately 1:6; this forty-two-minute film was edited down from seven hours of footage (Wewito, qtd. in Carelli et al. 75). Wewito articulates his particular approach to filmmaking when he says: “When I start to work on a film, when I have a topic to document, I already begin the process by thinking of my approach, what the beginning, middle and end of the film will be like” (Wewito qtd. in Carelli et al. 208). This process of in-camera editing signals this filmmaker’s editorial control of what is to be shown or hidden from the viewers. These choices of what to exclude from the general public’s eyes are hinted at further on in the film, a point to which I will return later. Wewito has discussed his specific involvement and control over the filmed material in the editing process: “First we pre-edited the film in the village, afterwards I went to Olinda. But unlike the first film, in this one I really took charge of the editing” (Wewito qtd. in Carelli et al. 209). Arguably, his audience is largely non-Asháninka 136 and non-Indigenous; we are aware of his subjectivity both individually and collectively within his community, and what he is choosing to show and tell us about Shomõtsi, himself, and his community. This more individualized point of view shapes Shomõtsi as a film in a way that is distinct from the collective nature of many of the co-authored films in VNA’s filmography, such as the previously discussed Kinja Iakaha, A Day in the Village. It is important to situate both the Asháninka’s collective and Wewito Piyãko’s individual history within this cinematic context, to explain how Wewito’s distinct vision, which frames the entire film, is informed by his specific personal and historical geo-political narrative. Born in 1978, Wewito has participated in three VNA workshops and has co-directed two films with his brother, Isaac Pinhanta, The Rainy Season (2000) and We Struggle but we Eat Fruit (2006); he also made a short film called Exchange of Views (2009) with Ernesto de Carvalho and the Hunikui filmmaker Zezinho Yube, as part a Brazilian Television program (Ponto Brasil Program). To better understand his positionality as a filmmaker, the following information from an interview with Antônio Piyãko, Wewito’s father, explains the family’s history. Wewito’s great-grandfather was an Asháninka man “who came from the Upper Eneki, from a village called Opokiyaki” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 209). Of relevance is that the Asháninka are the largest remaining Amazonian Indigenous group spread over a large geographical area with a “total population of approximately 100,000, only 1,000 of whom live in Brazil, the remainder living in Peru” (Carelli et al. 207). The Asháninka come from a warrior people who were known ever since the Incan Empire for “repelling invaders”; some Asháninka workers had to flee Peru’s violent and exploitative rubber extraction industry in the 19th century (Carelli et al. 207). Wewito’s great-grandfather came to Brazil from Peru as a part of this latter history. He worked for his Peruvian boss in what turned out to be “ruthlessly” exploitative conditions, along 137 with many other Asháninka families working in cotton. As explained by Wewito’s father “One day the Asháninka tired of this situation and decided to travel upriver in search of other work” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 201). Wewito’s great-grandfather, Samoyri Piyãko (or Samuel to the “whites”) journeyed on and settled at the mouth of the Amônia river (qtd. in Carelli et al. 201). Antônio, Wewito’s father, further reveals that he (Antônio) married Piti, a “white woman” the daughter of a boss known as Chico Coló, against, Piti’s mother’s wishes and in spite of her explicit disapproval of her daughter marrying an “indian.” Piti and Antônio had seven children, including Wewito (Carelli et al. 201). Wewito and his siblings are thus a product of this encounter between the Asháninka, who came to Brazil from Peru in the hopes of “taking refuge in more tranquil locations” (Francisco Piyãko qtd. in Carelli et al. 210), and of Brazilians who immigrated from Brazil’s Northeast to work in rubber extraction and then logging. Wewito’s white grandmother, Piti, is described as an ally to the Asháninka; her role in negotiating with the bosses, using her knowledge of the “language, mathematics and prices,” was foundational in establishing less exploitative conditions for the Asháninka in dealing with the non-Indigenous neighbouring communities. Wewito’s brother, Francisco, explains how “as children of this marriage, we also learnt to move between these two worlds, aware of their differences” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 210). VNA’s entire filmography presents and reflects upon this thematic of a hybrid cinema, the products of Indigenous and non-Indigenous worlds. The non-Indigenous world often appears as a reflection of violent histories of colonization and contact with Brazilian society, as well as more complex alliances and negotiations in self-representation. FUNAI (the government body responsible for protecting Indigenous lands), as a recurring player in Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in Brazil’s history with its Indigenous people, is also illustrative of this conundrum. Often 138 problematic, FUNAI has been complicit with the army and with large companies that have been responsible for forced removal of Indigenous people from their lands, for ecological degradation and resulting social upheaval (such as was the case with the Kinja people).78 In 1990, however, representatives of FUNAI appeared in Asháninka territory and helped them to demarcate their lands. Antônio and Piti’s children were all very involved in this project and in asserting Asháninka sovereignty. They participated in initiatives aimed at “self-sustainability, repopulating the native flora and fauna in their territory, strengthening their identity and culture, and ensuring their long-term survival through careful management of resources” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 210). This commitment to self-determination and sovereignty extends to filmmaking. Carelli goes on to express how the Asháninka are savvy filmmakers in terms of using video technologies as tools for promoting Asháninka land sovereignty: “The Asháninka have a great sense of marketing, the media and the internet, and the play of national and international alliances” (Carelli et al. 210). As a result of this skillful use of video technology by the Asháninka as tools of resistance and sovereignty, a politicized aesthetic of land sovereignty is enacted throughout their filmography, as in the film The Rainy Season (2000) co-directed by Isaac Pinhanta and Wewito Piyãko.79 Shomõtsi, which follows an older Asháninka man in Apiwtxa, does not directly address issues of land and food sovereignty or forest management and sustainability in the same way as other Asháninka films do; nonetheless, several scenes speak of Asháninka customs and 78 See Baines, “The Waimiri-Atroari and the Paranapanema company” (1991). 79 See also, Path to Life, Learners of the Future, Live Forest (2004) Dir. Benki Pinhanta, and We struggle but we eat fruit (2006), Dir. Wewito Piyãko. 139 relationships to the land and food. We follow Shomõtsi, with a couple of his younger children, from his home then down the river in a canoe, through the forest, to their garden where we see them working the land and harvesting cassava. Wewito’s voice-over explains to the viewer the importance of cassava in Asháninka culture and sustenance: “… it’s the most important plant for the Asháninka people. In addition to food, we also make our beer that we drink every day and on our celebrations.” Isaac Pinhanta’s (Wewito’s brother) discussion of his own actualization as a filmmaker in the film he co-directed with Wewito, The Rainy Season, expresses a similar sensibility to Wewito’s approach when filming Shomõtsi, “… looking at the images and discovering things and situations to do with your people that are there in your everyday life but usually pass unnoticed” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 207). The process of filming Shomõtsi, in line with Isaac’s logic of observing and discovering everyday life as extraordinary becomes a critical space for Wewito to reflect on his position within his culture and community. Deciding what to convey through film and video to an outside public is part a practice of self-determination through filmmaking. In one of the film’s early scenes we see Shomõtsi in his house, a separate unit isolated from any other visible dwellings. As in many Asháninka communities, people are often grouped in isolated households in nuclear family units with varying degrees of distance from other community members (Killick 703). We see Shomõtsi paint his face with a red paste. One of his younger children does the same in a less methodical manner than Shomõtsi, then says flippantly, “That’s enough, I don’t have a woman anyway.” Shomõtsi continues to meticulously paint his face with the use of a mirror. Without any ethnographic or anthropological explanation, we are immersed in this world through the camera of a fellow Asháninka neighbour and friend. The sound is all diegetic; we hear the rich, textured universe of the Amazon - sounds of the river, 140 birds, bugs and animals, in stereo depth and detail. It is important to note that Apiwtxa, as an Asháninka village and as a site, has come to represent Asháninka sovereignty through “resistance” and “sustainability” (Isaac Pinhanta qtd. in Carelli et al. 80).80 Thus, the presence and dominance of the soundscape becomes a sonic signpost situating us in a physical, cultural, and cosmological landscape, sonically highlighting the importance of place as part of the filmmaker’s subjective and collective positionality. Figure 3-5 Screen shot from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA It is not until the next day when we see a close-up of Shomõtsi painting his face again with even more precision than the first day, that Wewito’s voice over explains to his non-Asháninka audience, “We paint ourselves with annatto dye every morning, so we can go to work 80 José Pimenta’s article in Revista de Antropologia, “Indigenismo e ambientalismo na Amazônia occidental: a propósito dos Asháninka do rio Amônia” provides more in depth discussion about the context and history of extractive industries (logging in particular) in the region of the river Amônia and the Asháninka’s politics of resistance and sustainability. 141 or to a celebration” (see Figure 3-5). Through Wewito’s self-reflexive camera, we observe, as he does, the beautifying of the everyday through this ritual gesture of face painting. Isaac Pinhanta also speaks of this process of self-reflection regarding what to show and what not to show when he says: “When we began to work with video we began to see that we needed to separate things such as shamanism and spiritual issues. The Elders said: ‘No, you can’t film this.’ And so we are beginning to see what we can and can’t show to outsiders” (qtd. in Corrêa et al. 16).81 Pinhanta differentiates between the sacred myths and the myths that anyone can tell. We witness how there is a protocol for what stories can be told and by whom. In one scene, we see Shomõtsi explaining how Pawa gave the coca leaf to the Asháninka. Pinhanta explains how this is a good story to tell through video, “because outsiders will better understand us and respect us more” (qtd. in Corrêa et al. 16). Wewito, like his brother is also a teacher in his village and they both bring the teachings of their Elders into the cinematic realm. Wewito first came into contact with VNA when he was eighteen years old and a teacher in his village. The first workshop held in the Asháninka village of Apiwtxa resulted in the film The Rainy Season (co-directed by Isaac Pinhanta and Wewito Piyãko). All VNA’s work among the Asháninka takes place in this Apiwtxa village on the Amônia river, “an affluent of the Juruá river in Acre state, under the leadership of Isaac and Wewito Piãko” (Carelli et al. 207). Carelli explains how VNA came to work with the Asháninka in Apiwtxa village: “It was the rainy 81 Eric Michaels discussion around areas of sensity in media representation for Aboriginal peoples in Australia in Bad Aboriginal Art, and Graham and Penny’s discussion of Fred Myer’s “dialectic of showing while withholding” (12) provides further global context on Indigenous philosophies of sacred knowledge and decision making of what to show or not show. 142 season. The year was 1999 and we were running our second video workshop with indigenous teachers in Acre. It still followed the regional workshop model with students from different groups working together.” Carelli explains how the workshops in Apiwtxa developed: “We noticed that what was working was the idea of accompanying a particular character. … Our aim in the workshops was precisely that: to encourage a particular stance in relation to the world, the proximity of the characters, the lasting observation” (Carelli et al. 207). Corrêa’s pedagogical approach and influence are present in the workshops with the Asháninka; she not only coordinated the workshops with Carelli, but she signed off as editor of Shomõtsi. In this context, Jean Rouch’s cinéma verité legacy, as part of Corrêa’s training at the Ateliers Varan in Paris, distinctively marks VNA’s history, trajectory, pedagogy, and ultimately its cinematic outcome. Corrêa expressed her filmic and pedagogical approach in a discussion on “filming nothing,” as part of a meeting with filmmakers held in São Paulo (“Conversa a Cinco” 34-35). She articulated a shifting discussion on what it means to film culture beyond documenting ritual festivities: How to awaken their interest for more subtle, impalpable or even ‘invisible’ aspects of the culture? Elements revealed in the simple gestures of daily life, in life’s unpredictable instants that escape from the dogma of ethnic correctness? How to make them part of the composition of the real? (Corrêa et al. 35) Corrêa’s search for making the “real,” in all of its subjectivity, visible in contemporary Indigenous life became a dominant motif in VNA’s filmography. Certainly, Carelli’s cinematic instinct already incorporated many cinema direct characteristics; each film, each community, and each filmmaker brings their own distinct sensibility and ways of appropriating the audio-visual medium, ways of representing themselves and their villages. Wewito says of his restrained yet 143 intensely focused approach to filming, “Each person finds his or her own way. I only film stuff I’m going to use, I don’t record what is unimportant.” As his brother, Pinhanta, puts it, “…we are using the instrument of video in a different way, in our own way” (qtd. in Corrêa et al. 16). This appropriation of video technology as an Indigenized tool for self-expression exemplifies how the conventions and boundaries of ethnographic cinema are often challenged, expanded, and stretched in VNA’s archive. In many VNA films, we witness how the autoethnographic becomes a method of inquiry as well as a means to activate and perform sovereign, spiritual, cultural, and political positions through film. Although Shomõtsi follows another character in Apiwtxa, autoethnographic performance is relevant to the cinematic space that Wewito embodies through camera movement and voice-over narration. There is often little explanation of what is being filmed; the fourth wall of the observational camera is often broken when, for example, Shomõtsi directly addresses Wewito and asks, “Aren’t you going to use your machete?” We hear the filmmaker reply “no.” “Let me borrow it,” answers Shomõtsi. Our awareness of the corporeal relationship of camera to filmed subject is ever-present in this film; this type of interaction between camera person and filmed subject emphasizes a physical, complicit, and kindred intimacy, as opposed to the separation of filmmaker and filmed subject. In another scene, conventions of traditional documentary or ethnographic film are also broken when Shomõtsi addresses the camera person, saying, “Be careful not to film my balls.” He laughs as he and his children are seated, eating the food harvested earlier from their land. In an interview Carelli describes Shomõtsi as “stubborn, amusing, funny, as the Asháninka are in general” (Carelli et al. 208). Wewito’s self-reflective interpretations of culture and identity through the camera lens, at times playful and humorous, 144 become part of a dialogic process between his subjectivity as a filmmaker, his filmed subject, his greater Apiwtxa / Asháninka community, and the viewer. Wewito’s reflections are apt here: Filming, following a particular person or a family, is just like doing research. You become closer to the person, learning more and more about his or her life, discovering stories you had never known before. Discussing how we’re going to present ourselves in the video and what we’re going to show through the film to the community and to those who don’t know us, what makes us different from other peoples. (Qtd in Carelli et al. 208) This testimony demonstrates the transformative process of documentary filmmaking; it also articulates the responsibility and ownership of self-representation through an audio-visual language to a greater public.82 Significantly, as Linda Tuhiwai Smith explains, when an Indigenous person becomes the researcher and not merely the researched, “the activity of research is transformed” (93). In this sense, Wewito’s research engagement is a way of framing both the individual self and collective identity; his method of inquiry is autoethnographic and decolonizing. Autoethnographies have been defined as “self-narrative[s] that critiques the situatedness of self with others in social contexts” (Spry “Performing Autoethnography” 710). In the context of Shomõtsi and of much of VNA’s archive, the autoethnographical goes beyond the social and becomes a way of reclaiming contested geo-political-historical-cultural narratives while performing evolving Indigenous identities. Shomõtsi, as one component of VNA’s archive, 82 Laura Graham’s chapter: “Transformations of Indigenous Media: The Life and Work of David Hernández Palmar” provides a related example of the transformative power of Indigenous media on Indigenous media makers. 145 is part of a larger shared process of constructing culturally and politically distinct methods of inquiry (Whitinui 2014)83 within the cinematic space, often blurring lines between documentary, fiction, political film, ethnography, and autoethnography. Through Wewito’s camera eye, we witness the specificity of Asháninka cultural emphasis on self-reliance and voluntary relations based on amity and friendship, rather than on kinship. Here, Evan Killick’s ethnographic observations on Asháninka social relations are relevant: “Ashéninka themselves seem to place import on relationships that are not based on kinship and they regularly refer to such relationships in terms of the Spanish word Amistad (friendship)” (702).84 Killick goes on to explain that it is not that the Asháninka “do not see themselves as connected to others through webs of kinship, trade, and sociality but rather that their everyday existence is focused around a striking household independence and self-sufficiency” (703). Contrary to much of the literature on Amazonian sociality and conviviality (see Overing & Passes 2000), Killick argues that Asháninka cultural values place emphasis on 83 Paul Whitinui’s article, “Indigenous Autoethnography: Exploring, Engaging, and Experiencing Self as a Native Method of Inquiry” (2014) was particularly useful in framing VNA’s work as a distinctly “Native Method of Inquiry” as defined by Whitinui. 84 A footnote in Evan Killick’s article, “Ashéninka amity: a study of social relations in an Amazonian society,” (2009) succinctly expresses the different spellings and significations of Ashéninka / Asháninka recited here: “The Ashéninka are part of a larger ethnic group now known as the Asháninka, and previously referred to as the Campa. This group, in turn, is part of the greater pre-Andean Arawakan linguistic group which includes the Yanesha, Matsiguenga, Nomatsiguenga, and Piro (Yiné).” 146 formalized personal friendships in everyday life. The filmmaking process in Shomõtsi thus becomes a testament to an evolving friendship between filmmaker and filmed subject, while consciously or unconsciously revealing distinct Asháninka cultural and social formations as well as Wewito’s personal/political subjectivity. As Salazar and Cordóva contend, “at the center of a poetics of Indigenous media, we locate socially embedded self-representation, or the active process of making culture visible” (p.40) and audible. An example of “making culture visible” is when Shomõtsi paints his face for the second time and is preparing for the weekend festivity. We seem him adorn himself with a traditional, feather-laden woven hat, and with beaded necklaces. Wewito explains how, in a not so distant past, the beads were only used for personal use in celebrations and in the beautifying of daily life; in contrast, now they are also sold to make money to “buy the things they need.” Notably, Shomõtsi’s digital watch stands out in contrast to the rest of his traditional outfit as a reminder of the current times Wewito and Shomõtsi inhabit – one where beadwork is no longer exclusively made for personal and ceremonial use. Wewito then explains how the weekend is “the time of joy,” an occasion for the village to meet and celebrate “Piarentsi” with cassava beer, stories, songs and dances. Wewito’s voice-over provides a sound bridge from a scene of Shomõtsi in his house beautifying himself for the festivities to the next scene where we see him walking towards the village and then arriving outside his nieces’ house. Here, he jokes with the younger girls who give him a bowl of the cassava beer. Social gatherings are centered on the consumption of cassava beer; as explained by Killick in his ethnographic study: “They are informal, with no ritual elaboration and few social protocols. For the otherwise independent Ashéninka they are the main form of socializing and all are welcome, and encouraged, to attend them” (710). We see children playing traditional games 147 and soccer, listening to music and dancing. We see the preparation and serving of the cassava beer, and we watch as Shomõtsi drinks beer, plays the flute, dances and generally socializes with his Apiwtxa community. Most members are dressed in traditional garb, consisting of long and loose-fitting dark brown or cream and brown striped patterned robes with V-neck holes for the neck and longer sleeves for the arms, but we see one of Shomõtsi’s fellow flute players with a blue baseball cap that reads “Jesus” in large letters (see Figure 3-6). Through Wewito’s camera, the “Jesus” cap stands out as a contemporary reminder of Brazil’s growing Evangelism; in addition, it further evokes the Asháninka’s long and difficult history with missionaries, dating back to Franciscan missions in eighteenth century colonial Peru.85 The festivities continue until the beer is gone, and all the participants are more inebriated than sober. During this drunken and informal fraternizing, Shomõtsi asks his brother-in-law about going to the city. 85 Hanne Veber’s discussion of “Asháninka Messianism” (2003) provides a historical perspective on Franciscan missions, rebellions and Asháninka cosmology. 148 Figure 3-6 Screen shot from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA At the end of the weekend festivities and socializing, the camera fades out; next a fade-in to the dawn of a new day brings a new direction to the film. In terms of structure, roughly the first half of the film takes place in the village; the second half not only represents a change of location and setting from Apiwtxa to the nearest town, but the entire tone and narrative of the film shift drastically. We see two young men carrying a motor to one of the canoes. Wewito’s voice-over explains that Shomõtsi is going to the city to get his monthly pension. Besides the voice-over narration, the canoe ride down the river en route to the city is the first time we hear non-diegetic sound. Traditional Asháninka music, marked by flutes and a percussive rhythm over the image of a young Asháninka boy at the helm of the canoe, signifies the transition from village to town. In an interview, Wewito discusses his response to this unexpected turn of events: “It’s one thing to film in the village, another entirely to film in the town where the tensions are high because of our history…” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 208). Looking at the film’s overall arc, Wewito’s positionality behind the lens is fluid and dynamic, as he responds to his character’s actions and movements through time and space; his camera’s eye is always ranging between his 149 subjectivity as a fellow Asháninka, his responsibility in representing his community, the exploratory and self-reflexive lens of auto-ethnography, and the objectifying of a filmic subject as worthy of research and observation. Once their boat lands on the banks of the closest town, Shomõtsi changes out of his traditional clothes into a tee-shirt and pants. The camera follows Shomõtsi as he walks barefoot through the town; he walks past a sign that reads “municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo” and then he joins the long line of pensioners waiting outside a government building to receive their monthly payment. Wewito’s voice-over tells us that the airplane which brings in the money has not yet arrived. The film cuts to Shomõtsi, who explains that all there is left to do is to wait even though he and his Asháninka companions are stranded without any money to buy food. We see Shomõtsi and others from the village go the beach to set up camp while they wait. Wewito’s ease of filming in the village has altered through this spatial displacement: his positionality as Asháninka is reinforced and defended through a voice-over that says, “We, the Ashéninka people are used to sleeping on the river bank, it is part of our customs. We make a hut and camp out, just like they are doing here.” The implication seems to be that Wewito is perhaps countering a negative view of Asháninka that some in the town may have. Isaac, Wewito’s brother, elaborates on how, “when we’re in the town, they look down on us: ‘Ah, this Asháninka stinks, these old clothes’” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 209). The ensuing scenes of the encampment on the riverbank make visible a complex clash of values and ideas between the Indigenous (Asháninka) / and non-Indigenous (Brazilians). Some dependency on government money is part of the equation, as that is the reason Shomõtsi and his companions are there, waiting, just as we are (as viewers), to see if his pension will arrive. 150 Figure 3-7 Screen shots from Shomõtsi used with permission from VNA We see how they prepare some cassava cultivated and harvested from their lands; then a conversation about money ensues as one of Shomõtsi’s fellow Asháninka companions exclaims: “Money is made from some very strong material… It’s not like the other kind of papers. You wet it, hang it up to dry, and it goes back to normal” (see Figure 3-7). Godot is a pension in Shomõtsi and the circumstances of this wait; Shomõtsi and his companions sit in the shade on the beach waiting and philosophizing, bringing into focus the oddity of their situation – a government pension in an Asháninka context, the money failing to arrive, the encampment. 86 The wait seems even more noteworthy as the camera goes from a close-up to a wide shot; again, the same one of Shomõtsi’s companions as before says “The store owners don’t give anything away for free. Not even a piece of candy. That’s the way they are. They want to get rich, have a lot of money.” Their situation in the town forces the Asháninka community members into a position of waiting without money or food while underlying contrasts and clashes between the Asháninka way of life, the Brazilian state, and consumer society come to the fore. The same Asháninka man continues, “Our people don’t [have money]. We have our clothes to wear. If we have two or 86 I make reference to the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett which evokes the type of tragicomedy in the scene referred to above where Shomõtsi is waiting for his pension. 151 three shorts, that’s enough to go through life. That’s the way Pawa left us.” After three days of waiting Shomõtsi finally receives his pension for three hundred and two Reais. He then goes to some of the local shops to buy cloth; what we don’t see is him spending his money on alcohol. Yet we do see him drunk, with his bag of cloth and a depleted wallet. Wewito explains this moment in the film, “There were times when I thought about giving up. … That was a particularly difficult moment” (qtd. in Carelli et al, 208). We feel the tension of Wewito’s struggles with the ethics of representation, his accountability/ responsibility to the various communities he is engaged with. Notably, Wewito’s more distinctively authorial cinematic language arises from the tensions involved in the autoethnographic process as Fry articulates when she says: “Our knowledges of self/other/context [is expanded] by continually (re)activating our method of representation” (Spry, “A ‘Performative-I’” 339). VNA’s filmography as a whole develops a filmic language of affirmation, experimentation, and research through a diversity of narrative and filmic approaches. These approaches reflect nuanced and distinct cosmologies, aesthetics, and practices of each group, community, and individual filmmaker. The Asháninka’s idea of living well is distinct from the Panará and Kinja people’s idea of living well; the latter emphasize reciprocity, kinship, and physically closer communal social organization within their villages. In contrast, for the Asháninka, living peacefully and well means that “one must not live with others” (Killick 706). Indeed, the physical separation in village organization and spatialization, as well as the tendency for Asháninka human relationships to be based on affinity rather than on kinship, informs Wewito’s cinematic dynamic and approach in a way that is distinct from his Amazonian neighbours’. Wewito’s authorial voice throughout reflects an Asháninka “cultural emphasis on self-reliance” (Killick 704) and respect for individuality; his executive decisions on what to include 152 and what to cut also demonstrate his complicity, intimacy, and solidarity with his filmed subject. His choice to exclude scenes of Shomõtsi spending his pension getting drunk, although this reality is implied, is an autonomous political, ethical choice. Wewito continues, “I was a bit apprehensive about filming Shomõtsi in the shops, following him as he walked in the town. But slowly I overcame this fear. And I filmed just what I thought needed to be filmed” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 208). The spectrum of Wewito’s dynamic point of view, as he responds to the situations and circumstances where his protagonist leads him is experienced throughout the film. However, Wewito’s POV is nonetheless filtered through his distinctively strategic approach to filmmaking, which is focused and purposeful, as evidenced by his low shooting ratio. Although Wewito contributes a unique cinematic voice in VNA’s filmography, the film’s dialogic tone can be understood as being in conversation with several implied audiences - his Asháninka community, a larger local and global Indigenous community, and a local and global non-Indigenous community, not to mention VNA’s workshop coordinators (Mari Corrêa and Vincent Carelli) and editor (Mari Corrêa). Isaac Pinhanta responds to a core concern of the film when he points out that “Shomõtsi allowed us to see something important for the community, namely the question of pensions…” (qtd. in Carelli et al. 209). Notably, the film generated community discussions on issues of aging and pensions, as well as on the community’s relations with the municipality (Marechal Thaumaturgo), and on questions of trade and money (Isaac Pinhanta qtd. in Carelli et al. 209). As a result of community discussions generated from the film, Isaac Pinhanta explains how he brought the Asháninka films to the “Marechal Thaumaturgo Education Secretary” (209). C
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Demarcating screen space : cosmopolitical technologies at vídeo nas aldeias Shamash, Sarah 2019
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