Here are three films to watch out for at the First People’s Film Festival, organized by Land InSights / Terres en vues. Films will be screened from July 30 to August 5, and to check out the detailed schedule, go to

Xingu (Jungle)

Cao Hamburger (Brazil, 103 min)

XINGUXingu is a Brazilian feature‐length docu-drama based on the lives of the Villas-Bôas brothers – Claudio, Leonardo and Orlando – who were instrumental in creating the National Xingu Park, the first officially recognized Indian territory in Brazil in 1961. A tract of two million square kilometres, the park is a safe haven for Indigenous people, and a model for dozens reserves throughout South America.

In 1943, the Brazilian government launched the March West to explore central Brazil and take control of the region – which the Villas-Bôas siblings participated in. The objective was to build airstrips and set up outposts in this uncharted area, and eventually opening it to economic development and growth.

This film underlines how destructive white man’s progress is for Indigenous people. The March West introduced life-threatening diseases to remote Aboriginal communities, transformed the natural habitant with highways and logging companies, and introduced private land ownership to communal lands.

This well-intentioned dramatization concludes with archival footage of the actual Villas-Bôas brothers, who realized that the only way to protect the remote tribes they encountered in the stunning Xingu region was to isolate them from the “civilized” world.

Nosilatiaj (Beauty)

Daniela Seggiaro (Argentina, 81 min)

beauty5Daniela Seggiaro’s debut feature film is a well-crafted allegory on the plight of Native people in Argentina. Set in a small town in northern Argentina, Nosilatiaj focuses on Yola, a teenage Native girl who works as a domestic worker for a large white family. Though not mistreated, Yola is given little respect by the family, a situation she stoically deals with.

Yola is a Wichi, an Indigenous group that lives in the northwestern Argentina near the borders of Bolivia and Chile. While the film is shot in Spanish, Yola narrates the childhood memories in Wichi Lhämtes.

She remembers her grandmother telling her, “Don’t ever let anyone cut your hair off.” The pride of Wichi women is their beautiful long hair, cut only when someone dies.

In preparation for her upcoming 15th birthday party celebration, Antonella, the boss’s daughter, pays a visit to the hairdresser. Yola accompanies her, but the visit turns into a nightmare for the Wichi teen when she is tricked into having her long braid cut off.

Seggiaro provides a meditative view of how dominant cultures, in this case Argentineans, have harmed Indigenous people through cruelty and ignorance.

Winter in the Blood

Alex & Andrew Smith (USA, 98 min)

chaske-spencer-winter-in-the-bloodYou know that the story will be a difficult one, when the film’s protagonist states at the beginning, “I was caught in the in-between space. My body was vulnerable to the spirits. I was as distant from my self as a hawk from the moon. My throat ached of a terrible thirst.”

Set on a Native American reservation in Montana, Winter in the Blood follows the intoxicated exploits of Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer of Twilight fame) as he searches for the wife who’s left him and taken his beloved rifle to pawn for a few drinks.

An aimless and self-destructive character mired in the past, Virgil, a Blackfoot, lives his days in an alcoholic haze. He is plagued with the ghostly memories of his alcoholic father, who was found dead in a snowdrift, and the accidental death of his older brother when they were teenagers.

Based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Native American writer James Welch, the Smith brothers succeed in capturing Virgil’s inner turmoil. The film makes good use of the glorious expanse of the Montana landscape, and has a top-notch soundtrack provided by the Austin-based Heartless Bastards.

Boasting an impressive array of Native American actors, the cast includes Gary Farmer (the mother’s oafish boyfriend), Richard Ray Whitman (the alcoholic father) and Saginaw Grant (a wizened Elder).