As a critic keenly attuned to white (especially American) saviour filmmaking, I was admittedly wary of tuning in to Alex Pritz’s debut feature The Territory, which just nabbed double honours (the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft and the Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary) at this year’s online Sundance. The film follows the plight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people, who, along with the Brazilian rainforest they call home, may soon no longer exist. Pritz, a non-Indigenous American director, and cinematographer – who’s worked with Matthew Heineman, another white American that likewise has a habit of dropping in on foreign conflict zones to lend a do-gooding cinematic hand – originally was introduced to the Uru-eu-wau-wau through environmental and human rights activist Neidinha Bandeira. The feisty Bandeira, who grew up in the rainforest observing the tribe and eventually became one of the doc’s main characters, has fought for the Uru-eu-wau-wau for decades though is not Indigenous herself. Nor for that matter is Gabriel Uchida, the Sao Paolo-born journalist, and photographer who connected Pritz with Bandeira in the first place. (Uchida is listed as a producer on the film – as is high-profile white American Darren Aronofsky.)
A complicated triangle
In other words, all of this non-Indigenous involvement – especially at a time when ridiculously talented filmmakers like New Zealander (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui Māori) Taika Waititi and Native American (Muscogee Creek/Seminole) Sterlin Harjo are landing deals in Hollywood and bringing all-Indigenous crews with them – initially left . . .
Dear reader. To continue reading, please create your free account with your email,
or login if you have registered already. (click forgotten password, if not in an email from us).
A subscription is only 9€ 🙂