For the second consecutive year, the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival – Ethnofest and the Athens International Film Festival join forces. After the screening of Jean Rouch’s classic masterpiece “La Chasse au Lion à l’ Arc” (1965) during the 23rd edition of the Athens International Film Festival, the collaboration continues with the screening of “The Dead and the Others” by Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize.
“The Dead and the Others” is a wonderful example of a collaborative docu/fiction, a film of exceptional ethnographic interest. As viewers, we follow young Ihjãc, a 15-year-old native Krahô at the Amazon forest in South Brazil. His father passed away some days ago and everything is ready for the final, parting ceremony, which will signify the end of the mourning and will allow the father’s spirit to leave the world of the living and meet with his ancestors. Ihjãc has to perform this ceremony, however he refuses to do so. His father’s spirit talks to him, telling him that he has to put an end to his lingering. In a similar manner, Ihjãc deals with a lot of pressure from his social surroundings to carry on with the ceremony, however he still refuses to do so.
What lies beneath his refusal? Is it the strong emotional connection with his father? Is it linked with a reluctance to transition to the next level of his life as an adult? Or, perhaps, is it linked with his fear that, if he performs this ceremony, he will move one step closer to becoming a shaman, which is also signified by certain signs that he finds in the forest?
Ihjãc wants to avoid this pressure regarding his “duty”, as well as the decisions that he is required to make, so he fleas from the village and goes to a city nearby. There and then, he has to face the harsh reality of being indigenous in today’s Brazil for the first time. And this realisation will, eventually, be a type of transitioning ceremony for him.
Filmmakers João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora lived in the village of Pedra Branca and used their experiences to create this collaborative film together with the native Krahô people. They also collaborated closely with Ana Gabriela Morim De Lima and Ian Packer, two anthropologists with an excellent knowledge on Krahô culture. The actors are not professionals, but local people of this village who collaborated with the composition of the story, and a lot of the dialogues were formed while filming, as improvisations. The film’s major accomplishment is the fact that, although it can be unavoidably amateurish at times, it manages to avoid exoticisation of the Krahô life. In fact, it manages to articulate an important political discourse in the terms and in the language of the Krahô. For these reasons, the film offers a rich ethnographic record, not only of the rituals, the religious beliefs, and the everyday lives of Krahô people, but also of the violent reality and the exclusion that indigenous people experience in Brazil today.
“The Dead and the Others” will screen on Tuesday, September 25th, at 17:30, at Danaos 1. Anthropologist Silas Michalakas will be there to present the film.
In addition, “Alima”, an Ethnofest production in collaboration with the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA), will also screen at the 24th Athens International Film Festival within the context of the themed section “Greek Short Stories”. “Alima”, a film by Loukas Koubouris and Nickolas Papadimitriou, is based on an ethnographic observation of the daily routine of the fishermen at the Mesolonghi-Aitoliko Lagoon.
Over the centuries, local communities around the Messolonghi lagoon in Greece have developed a variety of fishing techniques to support their livelihoods. One of them is the creation of natural fish farms called ιβάρια (ivaria), still based on traditional knowledge, by using barrier traps to capture ﬁsh during their migration to the open sea. The locals have a special word for ivari fishing: Αlima.
“Alima” will screen on Thursday, September 20th, at 17:30 at Cine Ideal. The directors will be present to discuss with the audience.
The 24th Athens International Film Festival will take place from September 19th until September 30th. You can read the full program of the screenings and the side-events here.