IDFA Review: Nothing but the Sun

One of the consequences of conquest is the impact this invasion has on the indigenous populations, who, in most cases, had been living happily on their land for countless generations. Whilst the white man was more than happy to kill for what they wanted; Europeans were often equally as deadly when trying to help. Diseases and illnesses, which were common within urban settings, were largely lethal to those who’ve had zero exposure.

When the Spanish conquistadors reached Paraguay, they applied the carrot and stick principle in equal measure, yet the results were largely the same. This drive to ‘civilise’ native populations continues to this day. Mateo Sobode Chiqueno was forced out of the forests of the Chaco by Christian missionaries. He has been collecting testimonies from (his fellow) Ayoreo people since the 1970s. Now, in his twilight years, although content with the sedentary ‘white man’s life’, it’s time to head back.

Nothing but the Sun documents his quest to preserve the voices of those Ayoreo who had their history and culture stolen from them. Mateo’s tale is one which resonates throughout the world. The struggle between ‘progression’ and tradition, but also in the promise of a better life which is often unfulfilled. Arami Ullón’s film is patient and thoughtful. Allowing it’s subject to travel at his own pace, without comment or judgement.

Nothing but the Sun screens at IDFA.

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