REVIEW: Trans Artistry in ‘Uýra: The Rising Forest’

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Uýra The Rising Forest - But Why Tho

Uýra: The Rising Forest is a Brazilian, Portuguese-language documentary directed by Juliana Curi about Uýra, a trans, Indigenous artist and activist who travels around educating Indigenous youth through performance art to confront racism, transphobia, and climate change, all while on a journey of self-discovery of their own.

The documentary is a patchwork of a number of Uýra’s travels, workshops, and performances. We watch as performances are put on to draw attention to the racism and corruption that has destroyed communities’ natural resources and listen as groups discuss the intersection of their being trans and Indigenous. The scenes are made in three parts: interviews, which peak into the minds of Uýra and the other artists and youth; process footage, demonstrating how the art comes together from foraging in the forest to intimate sessions of applying paint; and performance, where short bursts of performance art or single images are strewn together to give the gist of what the final artistic outcome looks like.

In general, this has the effect of making clear the artistic visions and underlying politics of it all. It also has the effect of preventing the viewer from surmising anything about the art for themselves, either because it’s all been spelled out for them, or because the moments are too brief to glean anything substantial from them.

I want so badly to enjoy Uýra: The Rising Forest more than I do. It has a compelling subject in Uýra and the art it depicts, when it’s depicting it, is as captivating as its political message is astute. It’s just so hard to enjoy the film when it spends more time interviewing Uýra than it does depicting the art that its subjects create. It is some magnificent art, imbued with so much personal meaning and truly all glorious. We just barely get to see it.

I appreciate the film’s brevity, but if it had shown perhaps one less scene and used the extra time to really show its performance art in full the way the first one is, or at least done more of the dialogue in voice over on top of the art, it would have gone a long way in making the film more engaging and more fulfilling of its potential impact. By having all of my interpretation of the art fed to me instead of getting to simply experience it like you would in real life, much of its meaning felt almost trite, if not stilted.

Uýra: The Rising Forest’s subject is enrapturing, and it does leave me interested in following their and their compatriots’  art in the future. I only wish the documentary about it spent more time showing it and less time trying to tell me about it. Certainly the context it offers is integral and Uýra as a character makes everything all the more compelling. The way the film is edited unfortunately just diminishes the impact it may otherwise have had on me. The brief, beautiful shots of performance art were just too brief.

Uýra: The Rising Forest is premiering at the 2022 Frameline Film Festival on June 22nd.


Uýra: The Rising Forest
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Uýra: The Rising Forest’s subject is enrapturing, and it does leave me interested in following their and their compatriots’  art in the future. I only wish the documentary about it spent more time showing it and less time trying to tell me about it. Certainly the context it offers is integral and Uýra as a character makes everything all the more compelling. The way the film is edited unfortunately just diminishes the impact it may otherwise have had on me. The brief, beautiful shots of performance art were just too brief.