Ever since their first contact with the Western world in 1969 the Paiter Suruí, an indigenous people living in the Amazon basin, have been exposed to sweeping social changes. Smartphones, gas, electricity, medicines, weapons and social media have now replaced their traditional way of life. Illness is a risk for a community increasingly unable to isolate itself from the modernization brought by white people or the power of the church. Ethnocide threatens to destroy their soul. With dogged persistence, Perpera, a Christianized former shaman, is searching for a way to restore the old vitality to his village.
Luiz Bolognesi’s film sensitively documents how Western technology and church-based prayer are subsuming the lives of a people whose world was previously shaped by hunting, harvest and community meals. Unfolding in densely atmospheric images, this film reveals their deep connection to the unpredictable rain forest, from which Perpera draws the strength he needs to resist the encroaching eradication of their cultural identity. His unwavering trust in the supernatural allows him to wander between quiet submission and targeted protection of the existential values that characterize the Paiter Suruí.
Special Mention Documentary Award Jury at the 68th Berlin Film Festival
Best Cinematography at the 28th Montreal First Peoples Film Festival
Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival
The Silver Hugo goes to Ex-Shaman for its haunting lyrical and deeply cinematic variations of the themes of colonialism, oppression, alienation, dignity and rebellion. This film, a collaboration with the Amazônia tribe ‘Paiter Surui’, achieves a powerful and mysterious lucidity. This work is even more important as the highly corrupt racist Jair Bolsonaro is likely to become the next president of Brazil, which could deal a deathblow to indigenous people’s desire for autonomy and ancestral lands.
What’s not conjectural is the photographic beauty of the widescreen images, shot by Pedro J. Márquez with a timeless stillness that seems to resist the race toward change that began in 1969 and has caused so much destruction ever since.
Institutional Licensing Options
DVD with PPR: $349
DVD with Digital Site License: $449
DVD with Digital Site License + Public Performance Rights: $499
Production year: 2018
Director: Luiz Bolognesi
Produced by BURITI FILMES and GULLANE