Regional | Film

Award-winning indigenous Brazil documentary screens in Aotearoa

By Waimanea Nuri, Te Rito Jounalism Cadet

Indigenous climate activist and executive producer Txai Surui and producer Gabriel Uchida have joined Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for a moving and intimate screening of their multiple Sundance award-winning documentary, The Territory.

The film sheds light on the indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people's never-ending battle against the growing destruction caused by farmers and illegal settlers in the Brazilian Amazon.

Members of the Amazonian community risked their lives to form their own news media team in the hopes of exposing the truth through the film's magnificent imagery capturing the scenery and sound, transporting viewers deep inside the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau village and giving them full access to the farmers and their families.

Surui said the film took three years to make as they continued to expose the genuine tale of the Brazilian colonisers.

"We wanted to tell this story in our way, the story that people don't know, how we are continuously battling for our home, our indigenous land," she told TeAoMā

Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, a 33-year-old tribal leader, was found dead recently, allegedly murdered while protecting and surveying his tribe.  Ari was a close friend and family member whom Txai considered a brother.

'Bringing justice'

"The film is about saving lives and saving our planet, not just saving the Amazon.

"It's also about bringing justice for Ari's death, which is also an important part of our film."

Brazilian journalist and producer Gabriel Uchida is from São Paulo and has lived in the Amazon rainforest since 2016.

Uchida says they divided into small groups and simply followed indigenous people with cameras, not interviewing them, just simply observing, and comprehending the various points of view in the Amazon.

“During the production of this film, my friend Ari passed away in a very brutal way, It's hard for us to talk about that but I cry all the time."

Māori film producer and distributor Chelsea Winstanley believes it is important to share The Territory with the rest of the world to raise awareness about the issues indigenous peoples confront.

Reminders needed

She says colonisation is still happening and continues to impact not only the Amazon but also Aotearoa and Australia.

"We need to be reminded of these tales because, as a diverse community, we need to support one another to ensure that it does not happen again."

The film in Aotearoa will have limited screenings throughout the country. For more information: