Movies about the Native Peoples of

Amerika: Terra Incognita Jerico
Yai Wanonabalewa: The Enemy God

Clockwise: Amerika; Jerico; Ya-Koo; Mburucuya; Orinoko; Yai Wanonabalewa

Amerika: Terra Incognita

(América, terra incógnita)
(America: Unknown Land)
Director:Diego Rísquez
Writer:Diego Rísquez, Luis Ángel Duque
Cinematography:Andrés Agustí
Music:Alejandro Blanco Uribe
Year/length:1989. 95 minutes. PG-14.
Setting:Amazon and Spain, 1500s
Indian Content:high
Home Release:VHS
Rating: lousy ok good

This is an experimental film with almost no dialogue, except for a few words in Italian in the middle of the film. Conquistadors capture an Indian (Alberto Martín) and bring him back to Europe along with birds and other exotica. He is kept at court as a specimen to be displayed and looked at. A princess in the Italian begins a clandestine affair with him and has a child. Eventually, the Indian escapes the castle, but only goes to a small island where they can watch him with a telescope. Slow, symbolic, and dream-like, this fascinating experiment might have benefited from more rigorous cutting. But the contrast between indigenous harmony with nature and European estrangement from nature has never been expressed better. Amérika, terra incógnita may be regarded as part of a trilogy of films that begins with Bolívar: sinfonía tropical (1981) and Orinoko: nuevo mundo (1984, see below). His images are often based on well-known 19th century paintings by Arturo Michelena or Juan Lovera.

Sinopsis en español:
Amérika fue soñado por los Europeos. Ellos pensaron en un mundo nuevo, en unas tierras incógnitas, donde todas las fantasías tienen soporte científico. Amérika con K es el sueño, la fantasía, de unos seres "descubiertos" sobre ese continente de fabuladores, soñadores y guerreros que vinieron a interrumpir desde Europa la esplendorosa, mágica e idílica vida de un continente sorprendido en candidez.

Cenizas eternas

(Eternal Ashes)
Director/writer:Margarita Cadenas
Cinematography:Alfredo Cova
Music:Tulio Cremesini
Year/length:2011. 100 minutes.
Setting:Orinoco River; a Yanomami village
Language:Spanish, Yanomami
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none

Cenizas eternas tells the story of a mother, Ana (Patricia Velásquez), and her daughter, Elena (Danay García). Although they are separated in the space and time, they remain united forever. The people and the millenarian culture of Yanomami are the framework of this story of their unbreakable bonds. After an accident in the Orinoco River in the 1950s, Ana was considered dead. When Elena becomes an adult she wonders if her mother is alive and she travels to the Amazon to search her. Yanomami played some of the roles and made the costumes for the film. Some Piaroa y Jivi people also worked on the film. Actress Patricia Velásquez is of Wayuu descent and hopes that the film will create interest in indigenous culture.
Official website: cenizaseternas.com

Sinopsis en español:
Cenizas Eternas, protagonizada por la actriz y modelo venezolana Patricia Velásquez y ópera prima de la directora Margarita Cadenas, cuenta la historia de Ana, una mujer que durante los años 50 viaja al Amazonas y sufre un trágico accidente en el Río Orinoco. Sola en la selva, Ana es invadida por el miedo a lo desconocido. En la ciudad su familia la da por muerta, pero Elena, su hija, interpretada por Danay García, vive con la esperanza de encontrarla un día. Pasados los años, Elena crece y decide buscar a su madre. Con ayuda de su tía y un sacerdote, se interna en la selva para buscar a una napeyome, extranjera en lengua Wayúu, de la que hablan los niños yanomamis y quien Elena presiente es su madre. El drama y el suspenso se mantienen en todo el largometraje anunciando su inesperado final.

El film cuenta con la participación actoral de Erich Wildpret, Arlette Torres, Francisco González, Ángeles Cruz, Dixon Dacosta, Enrique “Chino” Dorante, Alejo Felipe, Amílcar Marcano, Marcos Moreno, Julio Mota y Beatriz Vázquez, entre otros. Fue producida con apoyo del Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía (Cenac) Está realizado en lengua yanomami y castellano. Los escenarios fueron totalmente recreados y toda la indumentaria fue elaborada por indígenas, que también participaron en la filmación. La conocida actriz internacional, Patricia Velásquez, de ascendencia Wayúu, indicó que la premisa del largometraje es reivindicar la visión que se tiene de los indígenas. "Si el público siente amor al ver esta historia, el trabajo está hecho," dijo Velásquez.

Dauna: Gone with the River

Director:Mario Crespo
Writers:Mario Crespo, Isabel Lorenz
Cinematography:Gerard Uzcategui
Music:Alonso Toro
Year/length:2015. 104 minutes.
Setting:Warao village on the Rio Orinoco;
1950s to present
Language:Warao; Spanish
Indian Content:very high
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Dauna (Yordana Medrano) is a little girl living in her Warao community on the delta of the Orinoco River in the 1950s. A missionary encourages the children to go to school to learn to read. Dauna finds that she loves reading and becomes an outstanding student. As she matures, however, she finds an increasing conflict between her intellectual growth and the expectations of her family and community, who expect women to be more subservient. She marries her childhood sweetheart, Tarsicio (Eddie Gómez), but he becomes jealous of the priest and tries to thwart her progress. Some animated sequences make the traditional tales come alive. This is an excellent, unique film that joins Mexico's Erendira Ikikunari and El corazon del tiempo in a small but growing group of movies about Native American women who defy their male-dominated society.

Sinopsis en español:
Dauna se atrevió a ser diferente y para defender su vocación, tomó decisiones por las que sufrió e hizo sufrir. Enfrentó las costumbres atávicas de su cultura y pagó su precio. Sin rendirse a las derrotas y pérdidas, éstas la condujeron hacia la reconciliación y la leyenda.

Desnudo con naranjas

(Nude with Oranges)
Director:Luis Alberto Lamata
Writer:Laura Goldberg
Cinematography:Andrés Agustí
Year/length:1994. 110 minutes.
Setting:various parts of the Caribbean, during the Guerra Federal (1959-1963)
Indian Content:low
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good
An Indian captain in the Federal Army discovers a mute woman adrift in a small town where the army is fighting. After a fierce battle, only the captain and the mute survive, and so she follows him around as he decides where to go. At first he tries to abandon her, but eventually they fall in love. In the course of their wanderings the captain is tricked into buying a bilongo, an amulet of Afro-Caribbean lore that gives the owner luck in gambling but also condemns the owner to hell if he cannot sell it to another poor soul for less than he bought it. This is a charming film, full of surprises and symbolism, and beautiful cinematography, but it does not show any Indian culture. The captain is constantly called an Indian by other characters, but the actor, Daniel Alvarado, does not look like an Indian. Based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Sinopsis en español:
En el sangriento siglo XIX venezolano, lleno de guerras, brujerías y supersticiones, un indio y una blanca deciden abandonarlo todo para amarse libremente; pero eso es algo que se paga caro: El infalible bilongo (un amuleto portador de riqueza y perdición), la guerra, y el mismo destino, intentarán impedirles su cometido. Basado en un cuento de Robert Louis Stevenson.

Doncella de piedra

(Stone Maiden)
Director:Miguel M. Delgado
Writer:Miguel M. Delgado, Rómulo Gallegos, Ramón Pérez Peláez
Cinematography:Gabriel Figueroa
Music:Gustavo César Carrión
Year/length:1956. 95 minutes.
Setting:slave farm in Venezuela
Language:Spanish, a few phrases in Guajira
Indian Content:high
Home Release:DVD (Mexico, no subtitles)
Rating: lousy ok

Remota Montiel (played by Elsa Aguirre) is the daughter of a Guajira woman who died in childbirth and a Venezuelan man whom she never knew, who sent her to school in the United States. As a woman she returns to Venezuela to live among and help the guajiros, who are enslaved by whites. One of the guajiros believes Remota to be the incarnation of the Doncella de Piedra, the stone maiden, who according to their beliefs would become flesh and save them. He also tells her the truth about her father, who is the co-owner of the slave-owning company. Remota is sold to the richest of the Guajira chiefs, a man she despises, but her estranged father learns of his daughter just in time and prevents the marriage. However, he dies a few months later, and Renata must form an alliance with a neighboring community of Uriana Indians in order to free the Guajira slaves. Based on the 1943 novel, Sobre la misma tierra, by Venezuelan writer Rómulo Gallegos (1884-1969). The film was made in Mexico while Gallegos was in exile, having been ousted from the presidency by a coup d'etat.

Sinopsis en español:
Remota Montiel es una hermosa mujer guajira que vive con sus tías debido al fallecimiento de su madre y al abandono de su padre. Por falta de recursos, sus tías se vieron en la necesidad de venderla al jefe de la tribu local. Al enterarse de eso, su padre decide rescatar a la hija que nunca conoció. Después de algunos años de vivir en el extranjero, Remota regresa a su tierra pero no es bien recibida debido a que su padre vendía a los indígenas como esclavos a su socio Gadea. Remota hará todo lo posible por frenar las injusticias que provocó su padre y recuperar el cariño de los guajiros. Basado en la novela Sobre la misma tierra de Rómulo Gallego.

(Little Indian, Big City)
Director:Hervé Palud
Writers: Igor Aptekman, Philippe Bruneau, Thierry Lhermitte, Hervé Palud
Cinematography:Fabio Conversi
Music:Tonton David, Manu Katché, Geoffrey Oryema
Year/length:1994, 90 minuntes. Rated PG.
Setting:Venezuela, Paris
Indian Content:medium
Home Release:VHS (dubbed into English), region 2 DVD
Rating: lousy ok
Steph, a broker living in Paris, wants a divorce from his wife, who has been living among Indians in the Amazon for the past 13 years. Steph travels to the Indian village to expedite the divorce and discovers he has a 12-year-old son, Mimi-Siku. He brings the Indian-raised boy to Paris where comical hijinx ensue. Cute movie. Remade as Jungle 2 Jungle.

Sinopsis en español:
Un agente de bolsa llamado Steph descubre que tiene un hijo, Mimi Siku, viviendo en el corazón de la selva venezolana. Le lleva a París, donde comienza la diversión.

Le Jaguar DVD

Director/writer:Francis Veber
Cinematography:Luciano Tovoli
Music:Vladimir Cosma
Year/length:1996. 100 minutes.
Setting:Paris and Amazon
Language:French; some Spanish, English, and an indigenous language
Indian Content:medium-low
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy

Wanu (Harrison Lowe) is a shaman from the Amazon visiting environmental activists in Paris. In a hotel he passes by Francois Perrin, a jobless Parisian gambler, whom he recognizes as a kindred spirit. Wanu follows him home and gives him important gifts, including a small bag of stones that transmit his spirit to the wearer. The next day Wanu suffers a heart attack, and his environmentalist friend Campana claims that only Perrin can save him, by going to the rain forest to reclaim Waru's spirit from the man who stole it. Anxious to escape his gambling debts, Perrin travels to the rain forest with Campana while Wanu lies in a hospital in Paris. They find Kumare (Danny Trejo), an Indian who has become an evil and feared businessman who has become rich by logging the Amazon. Now they must defeat him to regain the soul of Wanu. This is a silly adventure-comedy relying on tired comic formulas. Rui Polonah, who has played many indigenous roles in makes a brief appearance. Wayuu actress Patricia Velásquez (who later starred in Cenizas eternas) plays a minor role. The DVD of Le Jaguar is available in the original French or in dubbed English, and also has English subtitles.


Director/writer:Luis Alberto Lamata
Cinematography:Andrés Agustí
Music:Federico Gattorno
Year/length:1990. 89 minutes.
Setting:Spain; Omagua territory, 16th century
Language:Spanish, some Omagua, occasional Latin
Indian Content:high
Home Release:VHS
Rating: lousy ok good very good excellent

Fray Santiago is more comfortable with his Latin books and students, but instead the church ships him off the New World to convert natives. Disgusted by the brutality of the Spanish soldiers traveling with him, Fray Santiago runs off with a small group of rebels, who are later killed. The priest is eventually taken in by a village of Omagua Indians who teach him their language, introduce them to their hallucinogenic powder, and accept him as one of their own. As the priest learns to stop converting and love the Omagua, he wrestles with the nature of faith in philosophical voiceovers (which are oddly spoken in a woman's voice). Low budget but captivating. Contains graphic violence and unabashed male and female nudity.

Sinopsis en español:
Un cura franciscano es enviado a América, junto a los españoles en plan de conquista y colonización. Cae prisionero de los indios caribes, con su fe cristiana y su deseo evangelizador. Sin poder comunicarse, sólo ante una cultura que desconoce y aterroriza, se convierte progresivamente en uno más y tiene mujer e hijo. Ante una disputa con los jefes de la tribu huye y rápidamente lo atrapan los soldados españoles. Es acusado de hereje y cae en manos de la inquisición. Lo encarcelan y enloquece.


Cuadros de la naturaleza
(Mburucuyá: Portraits of Nature)
Director:Jorge Acha
Cinematography:José Luis Celeiro, Jorge Acha
Year/length:1991. 93 minutes.
Setting:Orinoco River region, 1799
Language:Spanish, English
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good

This unreleased experimental film is a dramatization of selected passages from the journals of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the great explorer and naturalist who studied the Indians, plants and animals of the Amazon and other parts of the Americas. Most of the passages read in the film are from Humboldt's 1799 travels in the Orinoco River basin, but the last half-hour of the film includes some of his observations on the Incas. The passages are read (by narrator Jorge Diez) first in Spanish, then in English, though there is some of Humboldt's native German thrown in too, as well as some indigenous language. Mburucuya has no plot. It is comprised of sounds and images of nature, Humboldt's journals and drawings, an assortment of modern and indigenous music, and minimalist dramatizations of Humboldt's time spent with Indians of the Orinoco. This is truly an experimental film, perhaps even moreso than the works of Diego Risquez. In fact, it would be surprising if Mburucuya were not inspired by Risquez's films, which came out only a few years before this one. Jorge Acha stated that the film's intention was to observe European culture through the lens of the Latin American.

Humboldt is played by Ariel Kupfer. His partner, the botanist Aimé Bonpland, is played by Patrick Liotta, while the actors playing the three or four Indians, and the Inca boy in the Peruvian digression, are uncredited. No credits are given in the extant film, which is essentially complete, but was left unedited when director Jorge Acha died in 1996. Acha made only two other feature-length films. Mburucuyá means passion flower in Guarani.

Sinopsis en español:
Rodada en 1991, Mburucuyá (que lleva por subtítulo Cuadros de la naturaleza) es una composición de imágenes que se construye sobre una analogía con los libros de historia natural. Un catálogo armado sobre aquello que la película narra: la llegada al continente sudamericano de dos famosos naturalistas, Alexander von Humboldt y Aimé Bonpland (interpretados por dos actores no profesionales, Ariel Kupfer y Patrick Liotta, respectivamente), y el encuentro con la cultura indígena, con un interlocutor privilegiado: el indígena (papel desempeñado por el actor Jorge Diez, quien había trabajado anteriormente en Hábeas Corpus). Acha confesó que con esta obra intentaba observar "la cultura europea desde la óptica de un latinoamericano". El film combina fragmentos del diario de viaje de Von Humboldt en 1799 por la cuenca del Orinoco, con frases extraídas de su correspondencia; de esa conjunción nace un interesante relato. El espectáculo de una naturaleza plena de sonidos, colores, olores vírgenes y desconocidos para los científicos europeos, los deslumbra constantemente. Von Humboldt dice en un pasaje: "Se cumple el sueño de mi juventud: veo la cruz del Sur."

En 1799 Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, en compañía del botánico Aimé Bonpland, partió del puerto de Marsella rumbo a Sudamérica, donde permanecería cinco años. El geógrafo y naturalista alemán no venía en busca de un conocimiento nuevo. Venía en busca de nuevos objetos para integrar a su viejo y racionalista modelo de pensamiento. El choque entre las dos culturas, entre los dos modos de pensamiento, era inevitable. La descripción perfecta de las plumas del pato nos hace perder su esencia, su alma. "Mburucuyá", esa extraña flor latinoamericana que los españoles rebautizarán como "pasionaria" por sus pistilos que recuerdan los tres clavos del Cristo en la cruz, es más que nada color y movimiento. Es un aliento de Duración que escapa al racionalismo científico de Von Humboldt, que da por concluida su misión después de haber "disecado más de mil seiscientas plantas y recolectado más de seiscientas especies" y no haber podido acercarse ni un milímetro a esa cualidad otra, a ese conocimiento distinto, que supone la mirada del indígena Yancagua, "cazador de jaguares", que permanecerá por siempre "atrapado en el sueño de Alexander olor a jabón".

Directors:Abigail Truchess, Carl West
Writers:Hada Bejar, Paul Coloma
Cinematography:Diego Falconi
Music:Shubert Ganchoso
Year/length:2005. 93 minutes.
Setting: Soropo, a town in Estado Portuguesa, Venezuela, 1651-1652.
Indian Content:medium
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy ok

In 1651 the image of the Virgin Mary began to appear above the Rio Tucupido where the Cospes Indians lived outside the hacienda of wealthy white people. The Virgin appeared first to Matilde de Alcazar, the daughter of the hacienda owner. Shocked by the miracle, she fell off her horse and lost her ability to walk. But she was inspired to begin teaching the children of the Indian servants how to read the Bible. The Virgin appeared again various times to the Cospes and bade them accept baptism and live with the White Man. Some of the Indians obeyed, but the cacique Coromoto refused. Much of the film shows Coromoto torn between his wife and children, who want to obey the Virgen, the village yemana (curandera), who urges him to distrust the whites. In January 1652 most of the remaining Cospes move to a new settlement on the Rio Guanare called La Villa del Espiritu Santo, where the whites give them land to farm and indoctrinate them in Christianity. Coromoto himself eventually concedes and moves to this land, but soon he finds that his people have become dispirited slaves to the white man. On September 8, the Virgin once again appears to Coromoto and his family inside his hut. Coromoto seizes the glowing image, and it appears emblazoned on his hand. Somehow he captures the image in a leaf, and the next day the priest comes to see the miracle (which remains to this day Venezuela's most venerated object). Two more miracles follow: Matilde, sitting by the river with her husband, sees one of her Indian students drowning. She dives into the river to save him and finds that she is able to walk again. Coromoto, meanwhile, still unconvinced by the miracles, moves with some of his men to the mountain, and while crossing a stream he is bitten by a poisonous snake. The Virgin appears to him once again and he repents of his stubborness. The Virgin forgives him, and he dies a baptized and converted Indian. At the end of the film the priest praises the Civilizing Virgin, "la virgen civilizadora" who brings peace to all races.

The Indians get about a third of the screentime, and the rest of the story tells of Matilde's courtship with a wealthy Spanish philanderer to is smitten by her beauty and devotion (a scene in the trailer suggests that the film may have once been longer, having included a scene of the Spanish conquest of the region in 1591). Like many religious movies, El milagro de Coromoto is rather lifeless and perfunctory. The production values are good, but the script and acting are second-rate, and the actor who plays Coromoto in particular suffers from Wooden Indian Statue syndrome--stiff, grim, and monosyllabic. The positive portrayal of the peacable, willing conversion of the Indians is of course propaganda. Filmed in Ecuador. The DVD pictured at left, which goes by the title La virgen de Coromoto, has English subtitles.

Indian characters: Coromoto: Wolframio Benavides. Esposa: Monica Lara. Hechicera: Diana Borja. Jose: Marcelo Baez. Pablo: Ciro Toapanta.

Sinopsis en español:
En 1652 se aparece la Virgen María a un Cacique Indio llamado Coromoto. La Virgen hace su aparición delante de toda la familia y le pide acepte ser bautizado. Así comienza nuestro relato, una historia en al que el Cacique Coromoto después de grandes presiones internas, decide al final de sus días, aceptar el bautismo y la fé Cristiana. Mientras todo esto sucede, la hija de una adinerada familia, queda invalida a raíz de un accidente y logra gracias a la gran fé que le tiene a la Virgen María, volver a caminar nuevamente y encontrar el amor verdadero, aquel que no se encuentra todos los días.

Orinoko: Nuevo Mundo

Director:Diego Risquez
Writers:Luis Ángel Duque, Diego Risquez
Cinematography:Andrés Agustí, Marieta Pérez
Music:Alejandro Blanco Uribe
Year/length:1984. 103 minutes.
Setting:Orinoco River, 15th century
Indian Content:high
Home Release:VHS
Rating: lousy ok good

Like other works by Diego Rísquez (see Amerika above), this film dispenses with dialogue, telling the story entirely through images, sounds, and music. The first half of the film shows idyllic life on the Orinoco River before the invasion of the Europeans. Then a shaman has visions of the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Catholic mission of 1498. Risquez's Orinoko should not be confused with the made-for-TV film Orinoco directed by Julian Pastor.

Sinopsis en español:
Kosirewe, un shaman en trance, visiona a Amalivaca, el dios creador, quien le pronostica el final de la epoca de oro de la selva. El majestuoso rio, vera arribar a Colon que lo confunde con el paraíso terrenal, a Walter Raleigh alucinado por encontrar El Dorado, a Alejandro de Humboldt asombrado por la apoteosis vegetal que lo rodea... y siempre rio arriba llegaremos a las fuentes de Amerika, el primer torrente de la Orinoquia. El shaman siente que su mundo esta perdido pues ya nadie baila el ritual de la esperanza.

Director:Christopher Cain
Writer:Neal Jimenez, Peter Silverman
Cinematography:Juan Ruiz Anchía
Music:James Horner
Year/length:1986. 100 minutes. Rated PG.
Setting:Waika region of the Amazon, near Rio Negro; then various towns in Venezuela
Indian Content:low
Home Release:VHS
Rating: lousy ok good

A missionary in the Amazon is seduced by a mysterious indigenous woman of the Waika tribe, and moments later he is killed by an anaconda. A blond boy is born of the union, and he grows up on the river with his mother, until she is killed by gold prospectors. The boy then lives on his own and befriends dolphins, who look after him. Years later, a colleague of the missionary who died searches for the boy and brings him to an orphanage. This priest names the boy Lazaro. At the orphanage Lazaro meets Segundo (Ajay Naidu), a handsome, rebellious boy who is assigned the task of civilizing Lazaro in order to keep both boys in line. One day a local politician visits the orphanage for a ballgame, and Lazaro recognizes him as the gold prospector who killed his mother. He vows revenge, escapes from the orphanage with Segundo, and hunts down the killer. Where the River Runs Black is a very good movie, but one feels it could have been better. The cinematography is excellent (though the Playhouse VHS reduces the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to full screen). But the plot seems forced, and the leading actor, Alessandro Rabelo, is too innocent-looking to convincingly convey Lazaro's feral nature and his wrath. No Native American customs or culture are shown in this film, though its similarity to Emerald Forest and Ele O Boto make it worth checking out for fans of those movies. Based on the 1983 novel, Lazaro, by English-Canadian writer David Kendall.

(The Enemy God)
Director/writer: Christopher Bessette
Cinematography:John Petrella
Music:Tim Alberts
Year/length:2008. 100 minutes.
Setting:Yanomami territory
Indian Content:high
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy ok good

The true story of Shake, a Yanomami who attained the highest power a shaman can reach, that of "Child-Killer," in which he spiritually travels to another village to unleash his demons. The film spans fifty years and examines how life has changed among the Yanomami people and how the "new ways" challenge their faith. The Enemy God delivers a decidedly Christian slant on the issue of assimilation, but it is still an effective drama. You can order the DVD from the official site: www.theenemygod.com

Sinopsis en español:
En la jungla amazónica de Venezuela, donde el espíritu y el mundo natural convergen, Shake alcanza el mas alto honor de los shamanes Yanomamo al aprender a enviar a los “Espíritus” a destruir a sus enemigos. Pero este poder trae sangrientas disputas con las villas vecinas. Cuarenta años después, cuando los extranjeros o nabas desafían las prácticas Yanomano, Shake se encamina hacia una nueva verdad preguntándose en quién puede confiar y si los espíritus que el creía amigos lo han traicionado. En esta fascinante historia real, Shake recuerda su lucha por preservar las tradiciones Yanomamo mientras trata de alcanzar la paz. Las experiencias de muchas generaciones de Yanomamo son reconstruidas y filmadas en una villa maya en Belize, y producida con el apoyo de cineastas de los EEUU y Canadá. El proyecto de es una iniciativa multi-facética para crear conciencia acerca de los grupos indígenas.

Director/writer/ cinematographer:Franco Rubartelli
Music:Francisco Molo (composer), Esperanza Marquez (theme song vocal), Conchita Paquiño (theme song lyrics), Gerrit Peereboom (flute solo), Elaiza Romero (choir director)
Year/length:1985. 105 minutes.
Setting:Alto Orinoco river region
Language:Spanish, some Tupi
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good excellent

Pepiwe (played by Jose Gregorio Payema) is a Yanomami boy living in a Catholic mission. After getting into an argument with his teacher about the name of his river (she says Rio Siapa; he calls it Periquitos), Pepiwe decides to return to the jungle to look for his family. He paddles down the Orinoco with his dog and parrot, and during a stopover on land he meets yet another nun (Flor Núñez), but not one from his mission. She pays the boy to show him the way to San Carlos de Rio Negro (by the Colombian border). He reluctantly agrees, but after a day's journey the nun tries to sneak away and loses the canoe. Ya-Koo has elements of a road movie with comically mismatched traveling companions, and the two leads have great chemistry, but it is much more than that. When we see Pepiwe in his own element, wise in his own jungle, feeding and caring for both himself and the lost nun in the beautiful and deadly rain forest, we feel that an entire culture and way of life is being celebrated. And also, perhaps, mourned. "Ya-Koo" is the Tupi word for good-bye.

Sinopsis en español:
Un niño indígena de nombre Pepiwe decide abandonar la misión católica donde vivía por no sentirse cómodo. Regresa a la selva. En el filme no se critica a las misiones católicas, más bien hay momentos donde Pepiwe utiliza lo aprendido con las monjas, durante el regreso a su chabono.

Falsas historias

Director:John Petrizzelli, Cezary Jaworsky
Writer:Reyther Ortega
Cinematography:Cesary Jaworsky
Music:Jorge Reyes, Guason del Teclado
Year/length:1992. 26 minutes.
Setting:Mare Abajo, 1653
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good

A farce about the arrival of the conquistador Diego Garcia de Paredes in Mare Abajo in 1563. Historically, the Indians greeted the arriving Spaniards in a friendly manner. Garcia de Paredes and five soldiers disembarked and accepted the Caracas' inviation to dinner. The Indians then killed all six of them, and the Spanish boat had no choice but to sail away. This short film takes a comical approach to the story, mixing anachronistic elements and replacing the crew of soldiers with two African slaves, a matador, a flamenco dancer, and a choir boy. Starring Guillermo Montiel, Armando Gota, Francisco Alfaro, Pepe Luis Nuñez, Hugo Marquez.

Sinopsis en español:
Picaresca y surrealista versión de la llegada del conquistador Diego García de Paredes a lo que hoy es Mare Abajo en 1563, y sus consecuencias en la actualidad.

Massimo Dotta, 1989, 50 min.

Amazonas es tierra de fantásticas leyendas y cruentas verdades. Leyendas, algunas creadas por el criollo y otras muy antiguas que narran el origen de este territorio, de sus gentes y de cómo surgieron los animales y las plantas.

MAJAYUT (Señorita)
Elizabeth Pirela, 2008, 31 min.

Este docuficción cuenta cómo es el proceso de transformación de una niña wayuú en señorita, y el protocolo que debe seguir un muchacho para pedirla en matrimonio. La película es hablada en wayuunaiki, lengua del pueblo indígena más numeroso de Venezuela.

Gerson Bermúdez, 1980, 16 min.

Un niño se enferma, su madre y sus tías deciden llevarlo ante una curandera, quien lo tratará según las técnicas tradicionales de curación wayúu. El video narra este proceso, destacando la importancia y vigencia de la medicina tradicional en los pueblos indígenas.

TATUUSHI (Grandfather)
Jorge Montiel, 2010, 7 min.

When a tatuushi, a Wayuu grandfather, leaves to buy food in the city, he returns to discover his idyllic country home has become another victim of aggressive multinational resource companies. Available on Youtube:
Un Tatuushi (abuelo en wayuunaiki) deja su conuco (casa) para ir a la ciudad en búsqueda de comida. En su ausencia un trabajador, de las empresas carboneras en la Sierra de Perijá, destruye su hogar. Cuando regresa, el Tatuushi encuentra su hogar destrozado y lanza al cielo una plegaria que necesita ser escuchada.

Eduardo Martínez, 1990, 45 min.

Joaquina es una mujer wayúu que realiza un viaje por la Guajira. Un recorrido inusual, en donde el mundo de los mitos se confunde con lo real y los muertos se comunican con los vivos a través de los sueños.


Aire Libre (Luis Armando Roche, 1997, 96 min)
En pleno cambio del siglo XVIII al XIX, dos jóvenes naturalistas europeos: Alexander von Humboldt y Aimé Bonpland, demócratas y humanistas convencidos, acompañados por el venezolano Pedro Montañar, se aventuran a través de la selva en la búsqueda del mítico Río Casiquiare. La realidad, a menudo bella, a veces despiadada, transformará ese viaje en un recorrido que los marcará para siempre.

Ayari: El veneno del Indio (Fini Veracohea, 1931) [silent]

Cubagua (Michael New, 1986; based on novel by Enrique Bernardo Núñez)

El hombre de la furia (Fernando Orozco, 1966)
After his father, an hacendado, is murdered, a young man is raised by a trio of rustlers and plans to avenge the killing.

Juurala tu eejirawaalat: La Raiz de la Resistencia (Organización Indígena Maikiraalasalii, 2012)
En la Sierra de Perijá, Maikiraalasali, una organización de campesinos del pueblo wayuu decide resistir ante la amenaza de la explotación minera y luchar por el derecho a construir un territorio autónomo desde las formas culturales propias.

Orinoco (Julián Pastor, 1986; made for Mexican TV)

El Regreso (Patricia Ortega, 2013)

Tokyo-Paraguaipoa (Leonardo Henríquez, 1996)
[A young Japanese man, Ryuzo, commits a crime of passion. To protect him his father, a rich computer manufacturer, sends him temporarily into exile to a faraway place called Paraguaipoa, near Maracaibo. This seems to him to be the safest place... but he knows nothing about the dangers in the antipodes. Because Ryuzo has slanted eyes and a mistrustful air, much like any normal Wayuu, he is mistaken by one of the native clans as a long-lost relative. Without being able to pronounce a word of the language he discreetly immerses himself in this mysterious culture. He discovers its laws and its legends. But most important, he falls in love with Campanule, a beautiful Wayuu princess, who has been sold as a wife to Challenger, a stranger to the tribe, a smuggler and a fighter.]
(Ryuzo, joven japonés que ha cometido un crimen pasional en Tokyo, es enviado por su padre a Paraguaipoa para eludir la justicia. En este paraje habitado por la etnia wayú conoce a la princesa Campánula. Entre ellos se produce un encuentro amoroso, adversado por el contrabandista Challenger, que finaliza con la muerte de Ryuzo al salvar a la princesa.)

Wayuu: La Niña de Maracaibo (Miguel Curiel, 2011, 125 min.)
[En la Guajira se erige una etnia tan antigua como la tierra. Una raza matriarcal llena de magia, ritos y grandes misterios. En medio de este pueblo nace la historia de amor prohibido entre Gamero, el Rey de los Guajiros, y Chiquinquirá, quienes contraviniendo la cultura wayuu deciden vivir su aventura pasional, a riesgo mismo de sus propias vidas. Es por ello que Gamero buscará la protección de un detective español llamado Alatriste, quien atravesará un intrincado laberinto de símbolos y ritos, donde no solo aparece la maracucha, "La Niña de Maracaibo", sino también la hija del Rey, la heredera, según la matriarcal descendencia tribal y con el mismo nombre, "la pequeña Niña de Maracaibo". Esta trepidante aventura transcurre a la sombra de un pequeño carguero repleto de misteriosos cambures. En estas tierras la vida es un viaje hacia el Jepira, desierto situado al norte de La Guajira, donde nuestras almas quedan en la memoria de los que la sobreviven. Alatriste, quien por cirscunstancias de su pasado llega a estas tierras, y debe enfrentarse al hecho de que El rey Wayuu ha trasgredido las reglas y se ha enamorado de una blanca Maracucha, entonces el universo de certezas que han estructurado la vida del detective, se le parte en mil pedazos bajo la egida de Chinka, la más joven hija del Rey Wayuu.]


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