Bepunu Kayapó is a powerful filmmaker, sensitive and attentive to his people's traditions. He lives in the Moikarakô village, city of São Félix do Xingu, in Pará state, focusing his lens on the Mebengokré-Kayapó territory and from there to the world.
In 2023, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP) turns its gaze to Indigenous peoples and presents the short films Menire Djê and Mê’Ok: Our Painting, both with the participation of the Kayapó-Mebengokré people, highlighting the presence of filmmaker Bepunu in the whole production process. They are documentaries that complement each other in their accounts of the ancestral art of body painting, a traditional practice led by the menires, as women are called in the Mebengokré language.
Menire Djê (2019) is a feature film that resulted from a qualification workshop for new filmmakers in the Moikarakô village. The lens focuses on the details of genipap ink production: harvesting the fruit, peeling it, grating it, grinding it, and mixing it with charcoal until the ink attains the thickness needed to apply to bodies—a knowledge conveyed for millennia from elders to new generations.
Mê’Ok: Nossa pintura (2014) is an extension of the conversations presented in Menire Djê. Produced by Museu do Índio (Indigenous Museum) in Rio de Janeiro, with the leadership of Bepunu and other people from the Kayapó ethnic group from the south of Pará, the short film has been shown in several spaces in Brazil and abroad, dialoguing with the Mebengokré cosmological world from the universe of graphics, which are presented in a complete process: from the preparation of the genipap and urucum (annatto) inks to the careful ritual of painting the bodies. The lens’ focus opens and the accounts expand, dealing with an ancestral art that unveils little-known but very significant aspects of the daily life and cosmopower of that people.
Video Room: Bepunu Mebengokré Collective is curated by Edson Kayapó, assistant curator of indigenous art, MASP.
Throughout 2023, the Video Room’s programming integrates the cycle of Indigenous Histories at MASP and includes shows by the Bepunu Mebengokré Collective, Sky Hopinka, Brook Andrew, Glicéria Tupinambá and Alexandre Mortágua, and Cecília Vicuña.