Arami Ullón: Nothing But The Sun

It does not take long in this fine film that you connect to Mateo, the man on the photo, who (from IDFA catalogue) “started recording Ayoreo conversations, stories, and songs in the 1970s, and is still traveling to Ayoreo communities with his now-antique cassette recorder to interview them and collect their voices for his audio archive. Occasionally the device eats a tape, which he fixes with patient fiddling. The conversations express uncertainty about the loss of identity. Is it a problem that a culture disappears in order to adapt to another?”

It’s in Paraguay and the Ayoreo community has suffered since the White people came. A culture is about to disappear. They used, some still do, to live in the forest, a good life as one of Mateo’s interviewes is saying, no illnesses, we could provide for ourselves. But the missionaries came. Mateo is a documentarian, he wants to keep on tape stories, songs and testimonies. And there are some lovely chamanistic scenes in the film. It’s an oral culture, as said Arami Ullón in the conversation with Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director of IDFA. But Mateo is not only collecting memories from his fellow Ayoreos, he also allows himself to start the tape recorder, when he close to his wife asks her, when it was that she fell in love with him… Won’t give you the answer, she gives, watch the film. There are many of these magic moments in the film that lives from its slow rythm and the conversations. «We were shooting blind, we did not understand what was happening », Ullón said in the conversations. “I did not have a plan, the construction happened when we were there”. I was thinking of what Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys once said: “We are making films to keep people alive”, and that is what Ullón does with the help of Mateo.

Making of course also a film about religious oppression, about colonialism, about what happens in a small country like Paraguay – and all over the world.

Paraguay/Switzerland, 2020, 75 mins.    

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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