Documentary of (De)Colonization: Ex-Pajé as Border-Filmmaking & Paiter Suruí Re-existence

  • Samuel Johnson University of Miami
Keywords: Amazonia, Indigenous peoples, Latin American film, Coloniality, Decolonization


This essay examines the linkage of epistemological inequities, social and ecological devastation, and ethnocide in Ex-Pajé, a collaborative filmmaking effort between writer-director Luiz Bolognesi, “ex-pajé” Perpera Suruí, and members of the Paiter Suruí community. This film serves as a potent counter to productions that side-line Indigenous actors, communities, and epistemologies, both narratively and visually, in favor of white, western protagonists and their saviorism. I argue that Ex-Pajé reveals the intersections between cinema and core tenets of decolonial theory. Ex-Pajé is a clear product of a “border-thinking” (Mignolo 2012) approach to film production, genre, and form as it portrays the strategies of “re-existence” (Albán-Achinte 2013) that define Paiter Suruí life while confronting ecological, social, and material colonial forces. Ex-Pajé visually and narratively reframes the colonial encounter from the perspective of Perpera Suruí, underscoring the need for collaborative story making that centers resistance to the violence of the Modern/Colonial age.