In partnership with Vídeo nas Aldeias, we present a programme of films that reflect the diversity of the indigenous communities living in Brazilian territories. Whilst the environmental crisis threatens our everyday lives, these communities have an ancestral, peaceful and respectful way of organizing their activities in harmony with their environment. What can we learn from their historical experience of resistance to threat – against their societies, their health, their ways of life?

The historic trauma of imperialism is unfolding, through globalisation, into the present technological dominance over the earth. In recognising how globalisation controls which stories are told and why, we reflect on this contemporary moment of being locked to our screens. Which stories matter to us now? In experiencing Vídeo nas Aldeias, how might we rethink humanities’ unequal presence and what is at stake? How do we choose to live now?

Ailton Krenak, Brazilian indigenous leader and philosopher, wrote for his conference provocatively entitled Ideas for delaying the end of the world:

“How to justify that we’re a humanity, if more than 70% are completely alienated for the minimum exercise of being? Modernization threw those people from the countryside and the forests into a life in the favelas and the peripheries, to become workforce in urban centers. These people were uprooted from their collectives, their places of origin, and thrown in that liquidifier called humanity. If people don’t have deep bonds with their ancestral memory, with the references that sustain identity, they will go crazy in this crazy world we share.

Let us think about our most consolidated institutions, such as the universities or the multilateral organisms that emerged in the 20th Century: the World Bank, the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations Organization (UNO), The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). When we tried to create a biosphere reserve in a Brazilian region, we had to justify before UNESCO why it was important that the planet was not devoured by mineration.

For that institution, it is as if it was enough to maintain only some places as a free sample of the Earth. If we survive, we will fight for the pieces of the planet that people didn’t eat, and our grandchildren or great great grandchildren – or the grandchildren of our great great grandchildren – will be able to take walks to see how the Earth was in the past. Those agencies and institutions were configured and kept as structures of that humanity. And we legitimized their perpetuation, accepted their decisions, which many times are bad and bring us losses, because they are at the service of the humanity we think we are.”

The destruction of the planet, the current threats to our health and lives, come from a specific world vision, which promotes the individual human, gendered, subject. And, it’s this idea that can be deconstructed, through a collective, convivial spirit. Some of us already desire, and sense the collective within the constellations of what life can be. The crisis of the individual gaze, where every ‘unknown’, every ‘other’, is perceived in binary terms, as a threat, can perhaps dissolve, when we look anew.

Made of films created by and within the context of a very specific project and quest: how can cinema, in the making of new work, be a tool to remember, imagine and build on these histories? How can we collectively, share responsibility, to learn and pass on, from one generation to the next, the idea that we are the land?

This programme is both a provocation and an invitation to those who are perhaps only now, waking up to the crisis of the western gaze and its impact on the material world.

‘I am black because I come from the earth’s inside’
Audre Lorde, Coal

Dr Erinma Ochu (She/They)
Curator, Doc/Fest Exchange

Maria Stoneman (She/Her)
Head of HR & Participation


The Exchange Film Programme is free and available to watch until 15 November on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects


Thanks to the generous support of Wellcome Trust all films in The Exchange programme can be accessed free of charge.