Name curator: José Sarmiento and Mónica Delgado
Name artist: Paula Gaitan
Title of the work you have chosen: UAKA
English title: UAKA
Year of production: 1988
No subtitles (on purpose....)
*About you (the curator)
1. Name: Mónica Delgado / José Sarmiento Hinojosa
2. Function: Film Critic (Director and former co-director of Desistfilm.com)
3. What is your main interest: Independent/experimental cinema/arthouse cinema
4. Where do you come from/ where do you live: Lima, Perú
*About the film and the filmmaker:
5. Name artist: Paula Gaitán
6. Title of the work you have chosen: UAKA
7. English title: UAKA
8. Year of production:1988
9. Format: 35mm
10. What can you tell about this work?
Uaka tells the story of the indigenous people of the region of Xingu (the Kayamura), an almost unknown place between the Amazon River and Bolivia. Paula Gaitán infiltrates the community to create a film that is part ethnographic experiment, part documentary, but overall a film-poem, where the everyday activity of the tribe (confronted with the “occidental life”: rock music, technology, etc) is combined by the telling (via intertitles) of the legend of the hero Mavutsinim. Meliés is also part of the formula, reminding us of the telling of this fable, this story of magic and life.
11. How does this relate to the theme ‘politics and poetry’ in your opinion?
Immensely. Not only by making the invisible “visible” again, but also by deliberately hiding the meaning of the words of the tribe, Gaitán provides a limited access to the Kayamura community. In fact, we can watch their rituals, watch them confronting the modern and occidental world, but we’re unable to understand their language. This is a community so far apart that their voices are alien to all of us, and we might try to understand them from our position in the world. Also, the poetry is present in their rituals, in the telling of the Mavutsinim story, in the sky, in the trees, in Meliés, the music, the whole imagery and mysticism of the tribe.
12. Are politics and poetry (or politics and arts) two separate worlds according to you? Why / why not?
Every action of ours, intentional or not, our mere denial of participating in politics, shows that we are constantly active, in action or inaction, in politics. Whereas is activism or not, poetry and politics are intrinsically together, especially in realms like cinema, where I dare to say, every shot might be a political art.
13. There are a lot of political tensions and changes in the world right now. Do you (already) notice any changes in the focus and/or ideas and work of artists because of these developments? Do you have examples?
We see new filmmakers, new ideas, an awakening in front of the world we have now. Artists like Sylvain George, Jim Finn, Travis Wilkerson, are reinventing themselves constantly in light of what’s happening now in the world. And this is also occurring in different areas of art. We cannot be oblivious to the fact than the world is a place of conflict and injustice, and we are part of everything that happens.
14. Besides the theme of ‘Politics and poetry’ are there any other comparisons between this artist and Ivens according to you?
Paula Gaitán (her husband Glauber Rocha) and Joris Ivens were very good friends, so yes, their work comes from a common ideal, a cinema of resistance, of bravery, of denounce.
Directed by: Paula Gaitan
Screenwriter: Paula Gaitan
Cámera: Jonhy Howard
Editing: Paula Gaitán and Aida Marquez
Sound Design: Carlos Alberto Camuirano and Paula Gaitán
Cast: Takuman, Ianaculá , Sapaim
Sobre Uaka/SKY/San Francisco film festival
In the midst of the Brazilian jungle, near the mountains separating the Amazon River from Bolivia lies the Xingu, a region unknown to outsiders as recently as twenty years ago. The Xingu creation myth is the subject of this first feature by Paula Gaitan, who shows how well she has learned the lessons of cinema nôvo. Neither documentary nor fiction-and still less an ethnographic film-it's best described as an "image poem" about the quarup ritual. Sky depicts a culture thousands of years old still living according to its own legends: the hero Mavutsinim was the first to learn how to revive the dead, by chanting songs before wooden trunks (quarups) decorated and painted with images of the dead. Resurrection could only take place if this magical practice remained secret. But men betrayed their promise and tried to discover Mavutsinim's secret. From that day forth the dead have been unable to return to life. Today those whose dead are honored must remain in mourning for an entire year, not participating in any tribal activity. Then they are led to the center of the village for a symbolic purifying bath where their bodies are made up to mark the end of mourning. The next day the quarup trunks are thrown into the river which transports the dead to a new existence in another world.
Amiens Film Festival
• Directed and Written by Paula Gaitan. Photographed by Johnny Haward. With Takuman, Ianacula, Sapaim, Xingu Indians. (1988, 78 mins, In Kamauira with English subtitles, Color, 16mm)