Refreshingly free of the tendency that hobbles many a doc on indigenous people to turn them into PC versions of the “noble savage,” “We Are the Indians” looks at a group of Guarani Indians in northeast Argentina during a particularly sensitive and even comic point in their collective existence. Brit filmmakers Philip Cox and Valeria Mapelman unobtrusively view two Guarani communities, the inhabitants’ complex private lives and the tribe’s public effort to protect their land. Adventurous fests shouldn’t pass this one by, while commercial prospects look fair for specialty tube and vid.
Amusing tone is set from start as Guarani tribesman Marcelo marvels at how his uncle performed in “The Mission,” a pic that dramatized his people. A striking split exists between the community run by liberal Chief Agustin and that headed by tougher Chief Juan Castillo, who accuses Agustin of allowing rampant drinking. While their struggle against a university’s land acquisition compels them to go to Buenos Aires (a very funny depiction of culture clash), all sorts of affairs of the heart bubble and explode in the villages. Lensing is sharp, and p.o.v. avoids condescension.