Tuire Kayapó (First Contact) is an intimate portrait of Tuire, the prominent female chief of the Kayapó people, known for her environmental activism in the Brazilian Amazon since the late 1980s. In the film, it’s impossible to ignore the parallels between the issues impacting Tuire’s people and the problems that have come to light during the pandemic, problems that have always been there but that many in the west were conveniently blind to.
It’s a startling film based around conversations with Tuire and the project as a whole is an interesting insight into the process of making something collaborative with respectful intent. Aware of the Eurocentric tradition of building skewed narratives about indigenous people, Yolacan spent time documenting the work that went into developing trust and a closer relationship with Tuire and the Kayapó people. This became an essential part of the project and allowed a much greater autonomy to the people she was filming and photographing.
Not only does this project explore the practices and traditions of the Kayapó people but, Tuire’s words on screen encourage us to reset our thinking around globalization, around our arrogant approach to nature, and inspire a deeper respect of our interconnectivity with all life on earth. As Tuire says, “we all need oxygen to breathe, we all need clean water.” We are all inhabitants of the same planet and what happens in the Amazon affects us all.
Text by Danielle Pender (excerpt). Gratefully reproduced with permission.