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Kayapo Filmmaker: “Video Is our Bow”

Belo Monte on the Xingu River is among more than 60 dam constructions approved by the Brazilian government to increase energy production, despite more than two decades of protests and battles about its sustainability and legality.

The Kayapo and other indigenous and environmental groups oppose the dam project due to its negative environmental impacts on their lands and traditional ways of life. Their films record what officials say and do, thus holding the government accountable.

Transcript

Kiabeiti Metuktire: I always say video is our bow. It is our weapon.

With a film, it shows everything that has happened.

Onscreen Text: Filmmaker Kiabieti Metuktire is a member of the Kayapo community.

The Kayapo are an indigenous group who throughout the Xingu National Park in Brazil’s central Amazon region.

Kiabeiti Metuktire: My way of thinking is I want to make videos in our villages, for us to register our lives, then send it to others outside to watch.

We don’t want strangers arriving here, filming us, and never giving us the images. We produce our own images, not strangers.

The technology of the whites is now ours to use and arm ourselves.

Technology as a weapon

Kiabeiti Metuktire: When I started working, I would make a film about a dance, a party, a meeting, an event. When I get back to the village and transferred it directly to the video, everybody want to see it. The loved the film.

Onscreen Text: Eventually Kiabieti and other Kayapo would film political demonstrations to show indigenous engagement response to government policies or inaction.

Kiabeiti Metuktire: The first film I made was about Belo Monte.

Onscreen Text: Belo Monte on the Xingu River is among 60+ dam constructions approved by the Brazilian government to increase energy production, despite more than two decades of protests and battles about its sustainability and legality.

The Kayapo and other indigenous and environmental groups oppose the dam project due to its negative environmental impacts on their lands and traditional ways of life.

These films record what officials say and do, thus holding the government accountable.

Kiabeiti MetuktireKiabeiti Metuktire: Now, we are going to make better videos because now, when we enter the forest, accompanying officials who survey our lands, we hear about ranchers that are invading our lands, [and] we say “let’s go there and film.” We also register [the GPS] location.

Kiabeiti Metuktire: The film goes to the president of the republic and to the ministry of the environment for them to see that something is really happening there. Because how many times has a report been sent and they’ve not responded.

Kiabeiti Metuktire: When it’s written in pen, sometimes it’s worth something, sometimes it’s nothing but a lie.

The camera and GPS technology document where something takes place, and this knowledge now [further] arms us.

Credits