Short Indigenous Films 2019

2019 Celebration of Indigenous (and afro) Languages

Language plays a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, and social integration, but also as a repository for each person’s unique identity, cultural history, traditions, and memory. However, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate, as part of the so-called seventh extinction in which the diversity of the planet is at stake. The United Nations declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages in order to raise awareness of them, not only to benefit the people that speak these languages but also recognized that the world’s diversity inhabits in the multiple tongues that describe it.

The NCLAFF celebrates such diversity.


Director: Yasmin Thaiiná. Brazil. 2017. 21 min.

Language: Portuguese (English subtitles)
KBELA is an audiovisual experience held in a collaborative way by black women about black women. Whether through the movies or through the hair, these women have in common the search for new possibilities to narrate their stories in different fields where machismo and racism are obstacles to be overcome. The film’s production process is based on networks of affection and the internet – the cast was summoned on social networks to ensure the diversity of characters who also collaborated with their personal stories for the short. An online kitty had the collaboration of 117 people and raised $ 5,000 to pay for the film’s recordings.

KBELA é uma experiência audiovisual realizada de forma colaborativa por mulheres negras sobre mulheres negras. Seja através do cinema ou através dos cabelos, essas mulheres têm em comum a busca por novas possibilidades para narrar suas histórias em diferentes campos onde machismo e racismo são obstáculos a serem superados. O processo de produção do filme é baseado nas redes de afeto e da internet – o elenco foi convocado nas redes sociais para garantir a diversidade de personagens que também colaboraram com suas histórias pessoais para o curta. Uma vaquinha online contou com a colaboração de 117 pessoas e arrecadou R$ 5.000 para custear as gravações do filme.

Spirit in the Eye |Alma no olho 

Director: Zozimo Bulbul. Brazil. 1974. 11 min.

Language: Portuguese (English subtitles)

Inspired by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s book Soul on Ice and dedicated to John Coltrane, Soul in the Eye marks the beginning of Black Brazilian films. The film is a metaphor about slavery and the search for freedom through inner transformation, in a game inspired by concretism.

Mãtãnãg: The Enchanted Woman. (2019)

Director: Shawara Maxakali and Charles Bicalho. Brazil. 2019. 12’ 50 min.

Language: Maxakali (English subtitles)

Mãtãnãg, an indigenous woman who follows the spirit of her husband, killed by a snake, to the village of the dead. Together they overcome the obstacles that separate the earthly world from the spirit world. Once in the land of the spirits, things are different: other forces govern the supernatural. But Mãtãnãg is not dead and her soul must return to the living world. Back in the village, reunited with their relatives, new vicissitudes during a ritual will provide the opportunity for the living and the dead to reconnect once again. With the script based on research on the indigenous oral tradition, this film is spoken in the Maxakali language and subtitled. The illustrations for the film were made in a workshop at Aldeia Verde (Green Village), directed by Jackson Abacatu, in the municipality of Ladainha, in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

With presence of Charles Bicalho*

Konagxeka: The story of the Maxakali’s Flood

Director: Isael Maxakali e Charles Bicalho. Brazil. 2016. 13 min.

Language: Maxakali (English subtitles)

Konãgxeka in the maxakali indigenous language means “big water”. It’s the maxakali version of the great flood. As a punishment because of selfishness and greed of men, the yãmîy spirits send the “big water”. It is an indigenous film. One of the directors is representative of the Maxakali indigenous people in the state of Minas Gerais, southeast Brazil. The movie is in Maxakali language, with subtitles. The illustrations for the film were made by indigenous Maxakali during workshops held at Aldeia Verde (Maxakali Green Village).

With presence of Charles Bicalho*

“Kuwoi Wujan”

Director: Jose Luis Cote. Colombia. 2018. 4 minutes 55

Language: Jiw (English subtitles)

This film portrays the myth of creation of the Jiw people. The Jiw is a nomadic Amazonian community of Southern Colombia. The story tells the close relationship the Jiw have with nature, the forces of good and bad are in constant struggle. It is located also in context with Western presence in their territories.

Nukak: Still Waiting

Director: Jose Luis Cote. Colombia. 2018. 8 minutes 15

Language: Nukak Maku (English subtitles)

The Nukak Maku are one of the last peoples contacted in the Amazon, it was in 1988 that first contact happened. During the last three decades much of their knowledge has been lost. This film is the result of collective memory exercises that intend to reconnect the Nukak with their ancestral knowledge. The message is for the new generations that are missing the value of being one with the land. All was produced in the jungle, all material and cultural production developed of their relationship with the land.

To know more about UN’s actions to conserve languages visit:

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