This entry was posted on April 3rd, 2017


By Aldo Padilla

The extermination of the indigenous people in Latin America didn’t stop with the independence from Spain. This colonization has been dragged for a long time and the present powers haven’t totally adapted to that which is presented in a different way, which doesn’t comply with the cannons imposed by Occident, and it seems that everything that represents a threat to the so-called equilibrium acquired in the last years must be exterminated. This idea is represented in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, where Occident is seen as a threat against the comfort zone of Japanese costumes within XVI century, while in the Latin American case the external agent is even older than the current society. How to fight something that is so ingrained in the mere soil? It looks like the paradox of a tree that needs to survive without roots.

In past centuries, the diffuse borders between Paraguay and Brazil gave place to the free movement of the indigenous people from one place to another. It is just in this century, against the infinite agricultural machinery of Brazil that Paraguay has claimed this border to plant immense crops of “yerba mate”, soy, or any other product that the moment demands. Through all kind of tricks, the Brazilian government has achieved to corner the southern villages in small spaces, whose anthropological evidence of their former existence are just small cemeteries that keep testimony of something that survived against the denial of the so-called progress, something which in Brazil is ironically inscribed in its flag: “Ordem e progreso” (order and progress) as an excuse to commit a number of barbaric events.

The monumental work of the directors of Martirio refers back to a project initiated almost 30 years ago by Vincent Carrelli, who in the period of 1988 to 1995 had a first contact with the Guaraní-Kaiowa indigenous people, a relation that was resumed 15 years after to verify the deterioration of their situation, when the government and land owners of the place tried to evict the people of the after mentioned areas with threats, attacks and completely unjust laws that traded crumbs in favor of complete submission. The relation of the filmmakers with the people feels close to the film and allows empathizing with them through small stories that reinforce the legitimacy of their demand.

Facing the search of truth by the filmmakers is the manipulation from the political power, which is evident in the different speeches where the indigenous people are shown as a horde hungry for land, of an extreme violence against the “small businessman” and even questioning the nationality of such places. The press is accomplice of this game through videos that look to manipulate the truth and also rendering these small towns’ demands invisible.

The shot opening the film is a recording where Vincent Carrelli struggles to understand the hybrid dialect used by the indigenous people, which is an excellent resource understood as a way of starting a path. Almost at the end, the same shot is repeated, but now with a proper translation, which indicates that through the recording process an evolution has been reached, a connection with the indigenous people which doesn’t feel alien anymore.

Directors: Vincent Carelli, Ernesto de Carvalho, Tatiana Almeida
Produced by: Papo Amarelo, Video nas Aldeias
162 min