Paris-based MPM Premium is bringing onto the market “Eami,” the latest film from Paraguay’s Paz Encina whose debut “Hamaca Paraguay” won a Cannes Un Certain Regard Fipresci Prize.
A timely ecological fable and tale of the pain of exile, “Eami” will be presented to select buyers in person at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur this week as well as online by MPM Premium’s Quentin Worthington.
He used 2020’s Ventana Sur market to unveil “The Pink Cloud,” from Brazil’s Iuli Gerbase, which went on to become a hit at this year’s Sundance Festival.
It would not be surprising if “Eami” figures at a significant festival in early 2021. Encina’s third feature, after 2006’s “Hamaca Paraguaya” and 2016 doc “Memory Exercises,” “Eami” delivers full immersion in the worldview mindset, forest and tragedy of Eami, aged 5, a member of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode community whose homeland is invaded by white hired-hands intent on brutally corralling the Ayoreo and driving them out of their ancestral lands.
Embodying Asojá, the bird-god-woman, Eami falls into trance in which she walks slowly and stunned through her beloved forest as she prepares to leave it for ever.
Narrated by Asojá, in Eami’s voice, who explains the Ayoreo’s world origins myth, the film tracks Eami who attempts to commit to memory her homeland landscapes – its thick forests, glades, ancient trees and lagoons – as she visits them for one last time – an act which in cinematographic terms is also carried out by the film itself in its more documentary stretches.
Another voice, of an older male Ayoreo, recounts how he was forced out of his forest and never saw his father again, who stayed behind. But the film belongs to Eami and Asojá, being told in their own words, with a large simple poetry and huge pain.
A hybrid, “Eami” is “for audiences who believe in the power of cinema, its visuals and empathy, an immersive experience which transports spectators on a poetical journey,” said Worthington.
He added that, besides theatrical and digital, another exhibition window could be some form of art installation, a form Encina has already explored in her previous works and also with her latest film, presenting several of her installations including some in an exclusively sound format at the Fondation Cartier.
The film’s background, Worthington noted, is the forced displacement of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode who lived in the Northern Paraguayan Chaco, by one of the most rampant deforestations in the world, as companies use the land for stockbreeding, in addition to smuggling wood rolls and converting the indigenous population into a cheap labor force.
Currently, more than 25,000 hectares of forest are cut down every month. After 20 years of legal battles, in 2018, the Totobiegosode Ayoreos succeeded in getting the Paraguayan State to give them the title to an 18,000-hectare reservation, Chiadí, that is part of their natural and cultural heritage.
But the Ayoreos’ problems are far from over. Still “Chiadí, ancestral land where the Bird, the Tree and the Wind live, slowly burns. With it, the memory of the world as we know it disappears,” the film’s synopsis runs.
Worthington will present a first trailer and stills at Ventana Sur. “Eami” is produced by Silencio Cine, backed by prestige upscale network Arte France and co-produced by Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes’ Louverture Films as well as Sagax in the U.S.
Further co-producers take in Paraguay’s Sabaté Films; Germany’s Black Forest Films; MPM Film and Eaux Vives Productions in France; Mexico’s Splendor Omnia, Barraca Producciones, Piano and Grupo LVT; The Netherlands’ Revolver Amsterdam and Fortuna Films; and Argentina’s Gaman Cine.
Given its visuals, “Eami” will not have been the most economical film to make. That said, a whole host of companies simply wanted in.