Gullane, one of Brazil’s biggest production companies, has tapped Paris-based Upside Distribution to handle international sales on “Ex-Shaman,” which world premieres in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section.
Produced by Lais Bodansky, “Ex-Shaman” is the second feature from Luiz Bolognesi, who also wrote the script. The helmer’s debut, “Rio 2096, a Story of Love and Fury,” won the Annecy Festival’s best picture Crystal in 2013.
“Ex-Shaman” follows Perpera, the elderly former shaman of the Amazon’s Pater Surui community, and one of the few people alive who grew up without contact with white invaders. His people are now plundered by logging companies and corralled by evangelists, but still turn to him in crisis, when he once more invokes the forest spirits.
“This shaman’s fight to keep his traditions alive is captured with poetry and unique cinematography,” said Upside’s Antoine Bertrand-Hardy.
Though a documentary feature, “Ex-Shaman” is shot in CinemaScope and carefully composed, often of symbolic images, such as of mist over a striking local river whose spirits once brought Perpera fish.
“Most documentaries on indigenous subjects are done in a spirit of urgency, without rigor. I wanted to capture the spiritual greatness and richness of their culture,” Bolognesi said.
“The film tackles a vital current issue,” said Gullane’s Fabiano Gullane. “Indigenous rights, ethnocide and deforestation affect people as far apart as indigenous groups in North Dakota in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline to aboriginal Australians in their struggle against historical injustices.”