Akimi Ota

Grant Type

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 10067

Approve Date

October 19, 2020

Project Title

 Ota, Akimi  (Independent Scholar) Kanarta (Sleep/Dream)

Kanarta’ is a feature-length observational cinema that tells a story about rising forms of embodied knowledge practices and entangled selves in times of ecological uncertainty among the indigenous forest dwellers called Shuar in Ecuadorian Amazonia. The film explores the intimate lifeworlds of particular Shuar individuals and observes how they make sense of increasingly unassured identity and material relationship with their living environment, affected by the progressive deforestation and growing presence of modern capitalism. I arrived in the Shuar territory soon after Ecuacorriente, an oil company affiliated with China, evicted Shuar inhabitants from their village for open-pit drilling in August 2016. For thirteen months, I accompanied with them and observed their everyday life that oscillates between cultural continuity and rupture. They interweave different kinds of knowledge about food, medicine, dreaming, plants and animals, thereby reweaving a new connection with their ancestors and redefining their existence in a shifting world. The particular challenge of this film is how to capture the subtlety and complexity of an emerging perception which is intersubjective and constantly in motion, rather than offer a vertical explanation about the social situation. Thus, the intimate narrative approaches and haptic cinematographic methods privileged in this film work together in order to ask: How can we understand the emergent struggles and resilience of indigenous people in rapidly changing Amazonia?