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Queen Mary strengthens links with Brazil's indigenous community

Queen Mary University of London's People's Palace Projects is set to strengthen existing links with Brazil's indigenous community and will hold a live Q&A with filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro.

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Takumã Kuikuro is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker
Takumã Kuikuro is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker

Queen Mary first began collaborating with the award-winning filmmaker in 2015. A special live discussion and Q&A will take place on Wednesday 20 May which will be hosted by Professor Paul Heritage, Director of Queen Mary's People's Palace Projects. Professor Heritage will be joined by Takumã Kuikuro and actor and director Simon McBurney.

Indigenous way of life under threat

After fifty years of limited protection in Brazil, the rights of indigenous people and the survival of indigenous cultures and knowledge are coming under increased threat.

In addition to the live Q&A, a special film, The Encounter, will also be streamed on the website of theatre production company Complicité’s website and YouTube channel.

The Encounter is an immersive play is set in 1969, when National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre became lost in a remote part of the Brazilian rainforest while searching for the Mayoruna people. The first encounter with the indigenous community, it tested his perceptions of the world. 

The play premiered at Edinburgh International Festival in 2015 and has since toured Australia, Europe and the USA.

Professor Paul Heritage said: "When Takumã Kuikuro became a Fellow of Queen Mary in December 2018, he stood in his academic robes on the stage of the People’s Palace to offer a vision of hope to a thousand graduates and their parents. Speaking through translation in a language now spoken by less than 800 people, Takumã inspired us all to think about how we can live better together in the future.

"As he speaks to us now from the heart of the Xingu Indigenous Territories in Brazil, he invites us to share a way of living in the world that crosses the distance that isolates us from the natural world and from each other. He speaks of our future and asks us to go there with him."

Immersive experiences  

in 2018 researchers from Queen Mary’s People’s Palace Projects teamed up with Takumã Kuikuro, and other indigenous researchers, to bring an immersive experience about a village in the Xingu territories of Brazil to the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south London.

The installation brought alive both the day-to-day existence and the urgent issues of a community of 800 people, whose lives are held in a delicate balance between first millennium cultural practices and the technologies of our contemporary world. It was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award in 2019.

About People’s Palace Projects

People’s Palace Projects was set up in Queen Mary’s School of English and Drama in 1996. For the past 20 years, its cultural exchange programmes and creative projects have sought to make a measurable impact on people’s lives. This includes working in the Brazilian prison system, negotiating cease fires between rival drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro and improving degraded environments in Acre, Brazil.

In 2010, People’s Palace Projects became the first and only UK arts organisation to be designated as one of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s International ‘Pontos de Cultura’ (Points of Culture). Professor Paul Heritage has also been knighted by the Brazilian government for his contribution to UK-Brazilian cooperation. 

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