Rotterdam Tiger Competition Entry ‘Eami’ Gets a First Look Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based sales agent MPM Premium has shared with Variety a first trailer for “Eami,” a striking ecological fable and tale of the pain of exile which will world premiere in main competition at the 2022 Rotterdam Festival.

Brought onto the market at Ventana Sur, “Eami” marks the fourth feature, and second narrative movie, from Paz Encina, Paraguay’s most prominent auteur whose 2005 debut, “Hamaca Paraguaya,” about an old couple awaiting their son’s return from the 1932-35 Chaco War, opened Cannes Critics’ Week, winning the Intl. Federation of Film Critics Fipresci Award for best film in that section.

The background to “Eami” 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 coveted their land for stockbreeding. But Encina, as in her 2016 doc feature “Memory Exercises” and last year’s “Veladores,” is interested less in fact-laden exposition of history as its intimate experience.

It’s the engrossment in the imagination of an exiled people, filtered through the anguish of Eami, aged 5, which sets Encina’s Rotterdam contender apart.

This full immersion in the worldview mindset, forest and tragedy of Eami is caught by the trailer.

It is bookended by fantasmal blood-red scenes of a forest fire, a voice shouting “coñones,” an Ayoreo word means insensitive or insensate, the name they use to define outsiders.

Embodying Asojá, a bird-god-woman, Eami is cared for by an older member of the tribe. “Heal your soul of the evil of the coñone,” he says. The young girl then falls into a trance, imagines herself on a salt plain looking for her friend Aocojái,  who has disappeared.

A white woman settler in a house listens to dogs barking excitedly as, outside, hired-hands brutally corral the Ayoreo.

In her trance, Eami commits to memory the sights and sounds of the forest – caught in a shot of a dazzling thicket of foliage and a flock of bird in a lagoon – knowing she will have to leave her homeplace.

She also imagines an older Ayoreo knelling on the ground. “The bad fire will come to Eami. You have to walk on the ashes. Nothing will be the same,” the figure says.

For the Ayoreo, this is a prophecy. For the world it’s a warning.

Currently, more than 25,000 hectares of forest are cut down every month in the Chaco, a huge area which reaches from northern Paraguay well into Bolivia taking in part of Brazil.

The reaction of the settler is simply to close a window and pretend nothing is really happening at all, an action typical of the larger poetical resonance of “Eami,” whose extraordinarily crafted sound design is also captured in the trailer.

“Audiences need films with bold strong visions and, if dramas, large emotions they can relate to. ‘Eami’ offers a distinct way to observe our world,” says MPM Premium head of sales Quentin Worthington.

“Eami” is lead produced by Paraguay’s 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.

Also co-producing are 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.