Marcelo loves the blockbuster film The Mission as his uncle, known as ‘Burnt Arse’ appears in it. When he watches it with his children, he points out that this is how his ancestors used to live – “this is their past”. The irony is typical for life amongst Argentina’s Guarani Indians who are struggling to hold onto their traditions whilst being pulled into the ‘White World’. Yet the issues faced by the Guarani in the film – such as identity, friendship, adultery and death to trying to understand 9/11, are the same issues people face all over the world. It is how the Guarani deal with these universal questions and overcome them that makes for a unique film.
The comical chiefs Agustin and Juan must settle their disputes, deal with an invasion of Japanese tourists and for the first time, travel to the daunting city of Buenos Aires to fight for their land. Cirilo’s wife Ara is pregnant but he is in love with another women and does not know what to do. Ara leaves him and he takes to the bottle, only to return to his in-laws to beg forgiveness and vomit over their possessions – provoking the wrath of Ara’s father. Karai the Shaman, star defender of the football team, is fighting a losing battle to keep his people committed to their ancient religion and culture “what does a past mean to a people? Is to become white the only way to survive?” he asks – whilst Claudio, a young white missionary, wants to build a church in the community. Marcelo tries to comprehend the events of 9/11, taking the microphone to tell the audience ‘how it really is’ – the fights, the forest, the sex, the secrets and the everyday stories of his people, the Mbya Guarani.
With its intimate style and compelling characters determined to speak for themselves, We Are The Indians takes the viewer into a world rarely seen, where the death of a culture and a people’s fall from God are matched by indelible humour and breathtaking resilience.