13 Ways of Looking at a Black Bird / Apiyemiyekî? 2020, 31’ / 2019, 27’
Taking its title from the poem by Wallace Stevens, 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is composed of a series of attempts of looking and being looked at. Beginning as a city state commission under the name and attitude of Unschool, the film became a kaleidoscope of the experiences, questions and wonders of a couple of high school students after a year of experiences with filmmaker Ana Vaz questioning what cinema can be. Here, the camera becomes an instrument of inquiry, a pencil, a song. “The film is a song you can see,” wrote one of the students in a collective constellation of phrases and drawings made during one of the workshops. The phrase is a perfect description of a film that explores a nascent ecology of the senses.
Apiyemiyekî? is a cinematographic portrait that departs from Brazilian educator and indigenous rights militant Egydio Schwade's archive – Casa da Cultura de Urubu – found in his home at Presidente Figueiredo (Amazonas), where are currently kept over 3.000 drawings made by the Waimiri-Atroari, a people native to the Brazilian Amazon, during their first literacy experience. Based on Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy, drawings became one of the first methods for reciprocal knowledge exchange and production. During these literacy exercises, the most recurrent question posed by the Waimiri-Atroari was: why did Kamña (“the civilized”) killed Kiña (Waimiri-Atraori)? Apiyemiyekî? (Why?).
The drawings document and construct a collective visual memory from their learning experience, perspective and territory, while attesting to a series of violent attacks the Waimiri-Atroari were submitted to during the Military Dictatorship. Apiyemiyekî? animates and transposes their drawings to the landscapes and sights that they narrate searching to echo their recurrent question and trusting that memory really is a necessary engine to build a common future.
• Ana Vaz is an artist, film-maker and founder of in(ter)disciplinary collective COYOTE. Her film-poems are underpinned by experimental collages of images and sounds, discovered and produced, to reflect upon situations and contexts which are historically and geographically marked by narratives of violence and repression. Expansions or consequences of her films, her practice may also be embodied in writing, critical pedagogy, installations, film programs or ephemeral events. Her films have been screened and discussed in film festivals, seminars and institutions such as the Tate Modern, Palais de Tokyo, Jeu de Paume, LUX Moving Images, New York Film Festival - Projections, IFFR, TIFF Wavelengths, BFI, Cinéma du Réel, CPH:DOX, Flaherty Seminar, Courtisane, TABAKALERA and Doc's Kingdom. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Kazuko Trust Award presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in recognition of artistic excellence and innovation in her moving-image work.
• Stoffel Debuysere is a curator of cinema and audiovisual arts. He is the Head of Program of the courtisane film festival and a researcher and lecturer in film-critical Studies at the KASK School of Arts in Ghent, where he obtained a PhD in 2017 with the project Figures of Dissent - Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema. Based in Brussels, he continues to organize various film programs and discursive events in collaboration with numerous organizations and institutions in Belgium and abroad. His current research is focused on the politics of sound in cinema and audiovisual arts.