World Civilization 2

Movie Review by different authors;


Damiana Kryygi – The Story of an Aché Girl

In the dense Paraguayan jungle of 1896, a three year-old girl survives the massacre of her Ache family by white settlers. The captive girl is baptized Damiana and becomes an object of scientific interest. Her body is photographed and measured as part of racial studies conducted by Argentine and German anthropologists, and this continues even after her untimely death at the age of 14.

One hundred years later Damiana’s people, the Ache, recover her remains, scattered between Argentina’s La Plata Museum and a hospital in Berlin. They give her a traditional burial in their ancestral homeland. For the Ache people of today, Damiana Kryygi has become the embodiment of hope and a symbol of unity in the struggle to recover their lands.


The story of the Aché people, an indigenous South American hunter-gatherer tribe, is a tragic one. From the first European contact in the 17th century to the present day, these Paraguayan forest dwellers have seen their lands appropriated, their culture destroyed, and their people enslaved and forced onto reservations. The life and death of Damiana, a young Guayakí who died of tuberculosis in 1907, illustrates this history in graphic detail.

Captured as an infant by white settlers and forced into servitude, Damiana was later handed over to German anthropologists for examination and study. On her death at 14 years of age, her corpse was broken apart, with body parts sent to Argentina’s La Plata Natural History Museum and her skull sent to Berlin for further scientific study. It was only in 2012 that Damiana’s remains were returned to her land and people, where she was finally buried following traditional customs and rituals.

Director Moujan tells this heart-wrenching story with compassion and respect for both Damiana and the Aché. The film moves seamlessly between the past and present using archival images, among them two ghostly photographs of Damiana months before her death, and narration by those who worked to bring her home. The layered result is a condemnation not only colonialism but more importantly of science that ignores humanity. Although difficult to watch, the film is recommended.

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