‘Hakani’ is a film produced by the American fundamentalist missionary organisation Youth With a Mission.
It claims to be the “true story” of a Brazilian Indian child called Hakani who was supposedly buried alive by her tribe, the Suruwaha.
In fact, the film was faked – and even the missionaries who produced it ‘admit there is no way to verify what they say happened’.
Hakani – paving a road to hell
In this Q&A, Survival’s director Stephen Corry explains why Survival is against Hakani.
You object to the film ‘Hakani’. Why?
Stephen Corry: It’s faked. It puts together footage from many different Indian tribes and uses trick photography to make its point. It wasn’t filmed in an Indian community, the earth covering the children’s faces is actually chocolate cake, and the Indians in the film were paid as actors.
The filmmakers say it’s a re-enactment, not a fake. How do you respond?
Stephen Corry: It’s presented as entirely real. The opening title of the complete film reads, ‘A true story’, and only at the very end is the viewer told it’s a re-enactment. The trailer, which has been seen by far more people, doesn’t mention it at all. If it were broadcast here, that would be mandatory.
If [the infanticide] happened as portrayed, it’s an extraordinary isolated case. After decades of working in Amazonia, we know of no Indian peoples where parents are told to kill their children. It just doesn’t happen.
Why oppose the film if it’s just trying to stop infanticide?
Stephen Corry: The film and its message are harmful. They focus on what they claim happens routinely in Indian communities, but it doesn’t. It incites feelings of hatred against Indians. Look at the comments on the YouTube site, things like, ‘So get rid of these native tribes. They suck’, and, ‘Those amazon mother f—-ers burrying (sic) little kids, kill them all’. The filmmakers should be ashamed of all the harm this film is doing to the people they are trying to help.
It’s propaganda to bolster the evangelical campaign for a very dangerous principle, the so-called Muwaji law, which has been presented to the Brazilian Congress.
The Muwaji law focuses on what it calls ‘traditional practices’ and says what the state and citizens must do about them. The original text says that if anyone thinks there is a risk of ‘harmful traditional practices’, they must report it. If they don’t, they are liable to imprisonment. The authorities must intervene and remove the children and/or their parents. All this because someone, anyone, a missionary for example, claims there is some risk.
A further draft of the Muwaji law approved by a commission in June 2011 does not
mention the removal of children. However, the evangelical sector in Brazil wishes to
bring the enforced removal of children back into the draft. It is not known which
version, if any, will be finally passed into law.