For decades, filmmaker Vincent Carelli kept returning to his friend, the late “Captain” Krohokrenhum, the leader of the Gavião indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon. As a white outsider, it took Carelli time to gain Krohokrenhum’s trust. Their long-term relationship resulted in this multifaceted and layered portrait of Krohokrenhum’s life and suffering under the kupen—the Gavião word for the white settlers—from the deadly diseases the settlers brought with them to the battles that flared with neighboring peoples under pressure from their rapidly shrinking territory.
This conclusion to a trilogy—after Corumbiara (2009) and Martírio (2016)—is more than just an oral history and ethnographic elegy; for Carelli, founder of the Video nas Aldeias project, film is a form of activism. Apart from the constant economic and political struggle with governments and companies as they destroy the landscape and force entire peoples to move, Krohokrenhum feared cultural assimilation above all. He saw film as a means to help the Gavião preserve their language and traditions for younger generations, who can thus rediscover their own cultural heritage.