Prod.: Films Missioni Don Bosco. DCP. D.: 11’ (incompleto). Bn e Col.
Tierra del Fuego, 1920s. A native boy looks in the camera while petting a chulengo. Pa-cek, the ‘shaman’ of the tribe, performs with clear amusement the healing practices he has perfected. The men of the community demonstrate their archery skills. These are images of daily life in the Ona community (Selk’nam), an indigenous population of Tierra del Fuego, today extinct and at the time of the film already decimated by the violence of conquerors and disease. There is a strong contrast with the second part showing the Native Americans in the Salesian missions, celebrating their ‘civilisation’: women at spinning wheels, with their heads covered with handkerchiefs and a sad look in their eyes; men engaged in deforestation or in managing immense flocks of sheep.
The films by De Agostini, a charismatic missionary but also an explorer, naturalist and photographer, have been re-issued many times. Unfortunately in a state of decay, the print presented here could be a fragment of Terra del Fuoco, listed in the 1928-29 bulletin of the Films Missioni Don Bosco. Many of the shots can also be seen in the more well-known Terre Magellaniche (1933).