Chile’s Indigenous Filmmakers Make Their Voices Heard

Emilio Mayorga

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Chilean indigenous communities are turning to film to portray their world values, social problems and identities. That’s the case for Leo Pakarati, of the Rapa Nui from Easter Island, and Mapuche Claudia Huaiquimilla. Both will present their recent works as case studies at the European Film Market’s Chile Country in Focus.

Pakarati’s documentary plumbs the impact of colonialism on his people’s modern culture. A co-production between Paula Rossetti’s Mahatua Producciones and Nicolás López’s Sobras, “Te Kuhane o te Tupuna” explores ancestral beliefs of the Easter Island people through the relationship and dialogues of a grandfather and his granddaughter, and the story of the Moai Hoa Haka Nana’ia, one of the fabulous effigies of the island, stolen by British Commodore Richard Ashmore Powell in 1868 and offered to Queen Victoria.

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“In my family, the oral tradition is of utmost importance, and knowing the history of your ancestors helps you know your origin and explains the events of today,” Pakarati says.

He is developing “Nga Hinarere” (The Descendants), about the influence and impact experienced by the Rapa Nui following the arrival of a Norwegian expedition in 1956, led by explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The feature will be narrated by children of those who witnessed the event.

Huaiquimilla and Pablo Green at Lanza Verde are currently producing “Motín” (Riot). Where Huaiquimilla’s feature debut, “Bad Influence,” portrayed the lives of two teens, one a defiant youth and the other a Mapuche who was bullied and excluded, her next feature keeps its eye on adolescents living in the margins. In “Riot,” the fragility of a pair of teens at a Chilean youth detention center contrasts with the inmates’ brutal living conditions. The kids conspire to riot.

Pakarati acknowledges the value of “indigenous spaces” at international events. Nevertheless, he points out: “It’s time to be able to access all possible exhibition platforms under equal conditions, without surnames or prejudices.

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