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An indigenous teenager falls ill when he resists tribal duties and his destiny as a shaman in João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora’s ethnographically sincere “The Dead and the Others.” Handsomely shot on 16mm to draw out the region’s warm organic tones, the film is an admirable, often fascinating fictionalized portrait of the Krahô people of Brazil’s north-central state of Tocantins and their fight to preserve traditions too easily watered-down by contact with the outside world. A major problem however is that the directors, who don’t speak Krahô, had their nonprofessional performers improvise their lines, giving far more space to exposition than their amateur acting can bear. Less dialogue and greater reliance on conveying information visually would have distinguished “The Dead” from other indigenous fiction, though Un Certain Regard’s special jury prize ensures a modest festival life.
Fifteen-year-old Ihjãc (Henrique Ihjãc Krahô) hears his deceased father’s voice telling him he’s forgotten to organize his funerary feast, but the young man doesn’t want to finalize the traditional period of mourning, for to do so means cutting ties that link the living with the dead. Later, in the forest, he becomes unconscious, and in a dream state is told by a macaw that he’s destined to become a shaman. Not pleased by this unwanted news, Ihjãc develops pains which he decides can only be cured by white men in the nearest town of Itacajá, so against the counsel of his wife, Kôtô (Raene Kôtô Krahô), and other members of the tribe, he leaves the village of Pedra Branca for the second time in his life.
Itacajá - Aches - Period - Time - Town
In Itacajá, he’s told his aches are psychosomatic, and he’s allowed to remain for only a short period of time in the town’s communal Krahô home. Still, Ihjãc avoids returning home, for he knows that going...
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