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Our Indians

After plunging into the world's film archives to see what footage was available on native Brazilian Indians, writer-director Sylvio Back emerges four years later with the compilation docu "Our Indians." Great as the idea is, the result is fairly predictable, alternating amusing camp with outrageously outmoded and patronizing views of the indios. Pic will find a niche as specialized TV fare in Latin American markets. The collage opens with a colorful and unlikely "war" between indios filmed on a fabulous beach, segues into B&W shots of conquistadors in full movie costume, jumps through some army newsreels and hits its high points in excerpts from feature films including Aloha Basker's 1930 "The Last of Bororos," Humberto Mauro's 1937 "Discovery of Brazil," RKO's kitschy 1950 "Jungle Head Hunters," Nelson Pereira dos Santos' 1972 "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman," and even a 1935 German film called "A Brazilian Rhapsody."

With:
Narrator: Jose Mayer.

The problem is that none of this is very new or surprising, generally proposing the kind of simpleminded racist stereotypes that Hollywood once reserved for Africans living in the jungle. For insights into indio history, one has to depend on the voiceover narration.

Our Indians

Brazilian

Production: A Riofilme release of a Usina de Kyno production. Produced by Margit Richter. (International sales: Grupo Novo de Cinema & TV, Rio de Janeiro.) Directed, written by Sylvio Back.

Crew: Editor, Francisco Sergio Moreira; image consultants, Mario Cereghino, Francisco Sergio Moreira, Cosme Alves Neto, Carlos Roberto de Souza. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 19, 1997. Running time: 65 MIN.

With: Narrator: Jose Mayer.

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