Film Making Uýra Amazon documentary Brazilian filmmaker LGBT rights Indigenous culture Social justice Intersectionality Enchanted Amazon Indigenous cosmo vision Climate justice Paradigm shift Global platform International Festival Amazon people Climate justice conversation
Trigger warning: discussing subjects of
warning: Adult content
Project by:
Juliana Curi
Find me:
Curated with:
January 18, 2024
Show some love & share

"Uýra, The Rising Forest", A Revolution In Brazilian Film Making

Back during the Everybody's Perfect Festival in Geneva, we were shown the breathtaking documentary that is "Uyra, The Rising Forest". From the beautiful scenery to the strong ecological discourse, Juliana Curi offered an absolute masterclass in modern film making, creating a collaborative piece of art. We had a chat with her, discussing her creative process and the way she lead her team to create this magnificent documentary.

Dany Niederhauser: What drew you to the story of Uýra and their unique work as an artist?

Juliana Curi: My connection with this story start with my own development as a filmmaker. I am Brazilian and my grandmother was an indigenous woman but whose identity was completely erased by colonization. So since a very young age, I’ve had these attentive eyes for the sides of stories that are not told, the underrepresented narratives, and how Brazil is a place of extreme epistemicide (the killing of knowledge). When I decided to become a filmmaker, I wanted to serve these kinds of stories, to help them come alive. So after 10 years working with music videos, short films, commercial campaigns, social awareness campaigns, in 2019, I felt ready to tell a story in a long format, and to make my first feature film. For a Brazilian woman filmmaker, it’s a very important step. It's not common to see women directing feature films in Brazil.

So when I decided that I was ready, I invited a friend to start to research, because I knew that there was a story out there looking for me. And in four days we met Uýra on Instagram. When I met her, I realized that she embodied all the ethos that drove me as a human being, as a director. She also has so much intersectionality that dialogue with everything that I was doing at the time. So I invited her to make a biographical film about her life, and she loved the idea. Three months later we were shooting in the Amazon.

Dany Niederhauser:  So can you tell us about the collaborative effort behind the film and what role you play in this theme of artist and singer?

Juliana Curi: So we have a very traditional culture in the film industry in which the director is the main subject and the characters are objects. And we have another tradition, which is occidental people from the West of Europe, ( and in Brazil, people from the southern, richer part of the country), travel to socio-economic vulnerable communities to shoot their stories. Then they return to their countries, win awards, and improve their careers and nothing is returned to the people they filmed. I was super afraid to reproduce this patriarchal system.

The first step that I took in order to try to decolonize the way we make films is inviting Uýra to be a co-producer and also writer of the story. So she was part of all the production and creative decisions along the way. So this was the first step, we put Uýra in the center of all the decisions. We created a very horizontal process. It's still a filmmaking process in which we have everyone working on their sector, but in a mindset where every voice is important.  We replaced this idea of the director as a star for a constellation of artists instead. Uýra’s from the Amazon, she's queer, she’s a biologist, an artist. She lives in the outskirts of Manaus (indigenous, but with their identity completely erased), and it gave us so many connections and intersections that we needed to create a team with different backgrounds in order to tell all the stories. So it was one of the most beautiful decisions we made, and it was something that I was doing in my work on a small scale, and from now on, my creative process and all my films will be made with this methodology.

Dany Niederhauser: The film explores the connection between LGBT rights and indigenous culture. What message do you hope viewers take away from this inter-connected team?

Juliana Curi: The film is so intersectional. She's from the LGBT community, she's indigenous, she worked with the kids in the Amazon. There are so many fights under the umbrella of Uýra’s work that our challenge was to weave all these connections in a one-hour film and to invite people from these adjacent groups fights to understand that at the root of every single fight, is the preservation of life.

The final message in the film is that life connects us all. So if we go deeper, life is the forest, life is in the Amazon. This is what makes us alive today. The film invites everyone to understand that this is your cause too.

Dany Niederhauser:  « Uýra, the Rising Forest » uses a sensory and poetic approach to address political and social, social issues. Why was this approach important to you, and how do you think it impacted the public?

Juliana Curi: Yes there is a few elements that drove us to construct the film in this direction. First is because Amazon, it's a enchanted place. I was there, and Uýra generously introduced us to this enchanted Amazon. We were with the Kambeba people, for example, in the Rio Negro, Donna Baba, who is a Kambeba leadership, was talking about the spirit of the forest as something super real for this community. We could not approach a story like this in a very cartesian way, like a very informative way.

We wanted to honor the facts and the information, which are super important because we are talking about a very violent place (Brazil is one of the places that kills the most transgender people, indigenous and environmentalist activist in the world). So we need to talk about this, but at the same time, we need to honor these enchanted Amazon in a very sensorial way. That's why we decided to blur the line between documentary and fiction, to make the audience feel the message, more than think about it.

On top of that, here is a part of Uýra’s work that you only understand with your heart, that is not something rational. You can't explain why it's so powerful, you just feel it. That's why we decided to create this balance between a traditional documentary and a very poetic and metaphorical film.

Dany Niederhauser: So what was the most inspiring or moving movement for you during the making of this movie?

Juliana Curi: Oh, there were so many. I think to be with the Kambeba people was super important. Brazil is a very violent place for indigenous people as we know. And to be in a very lively indigenous community with the values of indigenous and indigenous cosmo vision for so many days was completely transformative.

We have something in common with people that did this film, we have queer filmmakers, feminist filmmakers, we have climate justice filmmakers that made this film, but everyone has something in common, which is the knowledge that Brazil is an indigenous land that was stolen from them. And all of us also acknowledge that indigenous people correspond to 5% of the population of the world, but they preserve 85% of the forests in the world. So to be with indigenous people is very healing and transformative.

Dany Niederhauser: How do you see the film contributing to the discussion about social justice and the preservation of life in Brazil?

Juliana Curi: We have two main visible impacts with this film. One of them was our distribution impact in the Amazon which allowed the film to travel to Riverside, an indigenous community showing the film, bringing educational events with the exhibition.
We were guided by Uýra in this sense. Since the beginning we have been doing this film for the Amazon people. After that, if we can travel with this film to festivals and win awards and sell to a broadcast in US, amazing. Great to democratize even more my message. But the main audience for this film is the Amazon youth. So in this sense, the film accomplishes its objective to be screened in the Amazon and to be available for them.
And secondly, because as I mentioned before, it's a film that may make a very unique intersection. Uýra has a very unique cosmo vision. So the message reflected in the film is able to create a paradigm shift in my opinion. This is the second impact that I think the film can create in the audience.

Dany Niederhauser: The documentary has been well received at the International Festival. What does it mean to you to share this story on the global platform? And how it was received by the Amazon people?

Juliana Curi: It was super well received by the Amazon people. As Uýra always mentions, the Amazon is a very diverse place, with so many cultures, so many indigenous people. But in the places that we screened the film, it was really well received, it was really emotional, especially because they were seeing themselves on the screen. It was also because the film is not talking about people who are asking for something. There is also a tradition in the film industry to portrait these communities as people who need something. In this film, we are showcasing these people have something to offer to us, telling us that we need to connect with nature again. They are not seeing themselves on the screen. But at the same time, I think everyone felt invited to fight for these causes and to be part of the climate justice conversation.


More in 


Pink Or 'Blue ID'?
Pink Or 'Blue ID'?
Burcu Melekoglu & Vuslat Karan
Our Latest Lesbian Romcom Recommendation: ‘Anne+’
Our Latest Lesbian Romcom Recommendation: ‘Anne+’
Valerie Bisscheroux and Hanna van Vliet
‘Here I Come’: The Russian Queer Web Series Taking Over
‘Here I Come’: The Russian Queer Web Series Taking Over
Elizaveta Simbirskaya and Andrei Fenøčka
Five Women, Five Experience Facing Breast Cancer
Five Women, Five Experience Facing Breast Cancer
Alicia Keys, Jennifer Aniston, Patty Jenkins, Demi Moore et Penelope Spheeris
load more