In 1975, Award-winning French documentarian Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau arrived with his family to film a documentary about one of Latin America’s largest Indigenous peoples, the Kuna. Gaisseau worked according with the norms of the time period and from his own anthropological point of view and promised to deliver the film to the Kuna people. However, this never happened. The oldest members of the community had to wait for half a century until the film reels were finally found in Paris. The old and new generations of the community get to view the footage on a big screen with great emotion.
The poetic depiction by Andres Peyrot raises the important questions of for whom and why documentaries are made, and what kinds of moral-ethical questions are connected to them. Can the footage of people in front of the camera sharing their lives and culture intimately be considered the artist’s property?
The documentary also observantly examines the colonial structures and exoticisation of Indigenous peoples in the Western culture of cinema and storytelling. In addition to the big questions, this film containing old footage highlights important voices and is a beautiful homage to the Kuna people who gained autonomy in 1925.
Heta Heikkala (translated by Jenni Kaunisto)