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Film Review: The Invention Of The Other (A Invenção Do Outro)
by Rose Finlay

Bruno Jorge, Brazil 2022

In his fascinating documentary, Bruno Jorge joins an expedition deep into the rainforest near the border of Brazil, Peru, and Columbia to make contact with an uncontacted tribe called the Korubo. Due to the ever-increasing threat posed by poachers, illegal loggers, and oil smugglers, tribes like the Korubo are at risk not only of violence, but also of contracting diseases that their immune systems are not adequately capable of fighting off. Led by Bruno Pereira, the general coordinator of the Isolated and Newly Contacted Indigenous People part of FUNAI (the Brazilian National Indian Foundation) and joined by several members of Korubo who had been previously cut off from the tribe, the group venture to the last known location of the tribe and attempt to make contact in order to offer a safer location to settle and also to help vaccinate them against the diseases they will inevitably contract as the outside world encroaches.

Attempting to make contact with the Korubo is a risky business. There are threats on all sides, for not only do the poachers and other illegal inhabitants of the territory not appreciate the work of Pereira and FUNAI, but the indigenous people also do not generally appreciate contact with the outside world. In the past, the Korubo killed six FUNAI workers. However, this time around, likely due to their Korubo companions, the contact is far friendlier, although at times, a little tense. If there is one major flaw of Jorge’s documentary, it is that he largely lets the footage speak for itself. However, the overly simplistic subtitling (perhaps due to the struggles of finding an adequate translator for the Panoan language spoken by the tribe) as well as the utterly foreign perspective of the Korubo sometimes makes it difficult to completely comprehend their words and actions. More context would have truly elevated the documentary into being a genuinely eye-opening and impactful piece about the rights, interests, and perspectives of one of the last indigenous groups without major influence from the outside perspectives. Instead, the Korubo often speak repetitively of only three major topics: food, sex, and killing white people and members of an enemy tribe, the Matis. Is this really representative of the way that they always speak? Or is it merely some form of aggressiveness that they tried to show to the FUNAI workers? Without further context, the documentary runs the risk of reaffirming colonialist ideas about indigenous people, and it truly weakens the potential greater reach of the film to audiences.