Apiyemiyekî? recounts the story of the atrocities suffered by the indigenous people Waimiri-Atroari (Amazonas and Roraima, Brazil) as a consequence of the violent campaign of occupation that took place under the civil and military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–1985). The work stresses the importance of remembering the cruel and often concealed chapters of history. It attempts to restore a collective memory by starting out from the drawings realized by the Waimiri-Atroari during the ›alphabetization‹ process led by Brazilian educator and militant activist for the indigenous rights, Egydio Schwade, in 1985-1986. Rooted in Paulo Freire’s highly influential radical pedagogy, the practice of drawing was chosen to favor an equal exchange of knowledge, as well as to transcend the limits of verbal language and translatability.
The film indirectly reveals the clash between two antithetic worldviews: the ancestral knowledge of the Waimiri-Atroari, their relationship with the natural environment based on a deep understanding of the interdependence among living beings, and the necropolitics pursued by the invaders, their weaponized expansion and massacre with the aim of expropriating the land from its inhabitants to favor the growth of profit for private companies. The most recurrent question posed by the Waimiri-Atroari to the educators was: »Why did Kamña (the civilized) kill Kiña (Waimiri-Atraori)? Apiyemiyekî? (Why?)«.
As several theorists of decolonization have pointed out, when we compare the ›apocalypse‹ to the present social, political, and environmental collapse, we usually tend to forget that, for some, the world has been ending for over five hundred years. Since then, indigenous peoples in Brazil (as elsewhere) have been under constant attack and discrimination by governments and civilians that pursued predatory economic practices only favoring a few. Apiyemiyekî? emphasises the importance of keeping a collective visual memory that records a transgenerational trauma and of charting the events that have been concealed by the dominant history: a necessary act to resist collective amnesia and to forge a different future. (Vanina Saracino)
Images: Ana Vaz, Apiyemiyekî?, 2019 © Ana Vaz