The movie

Nothing but the Sun

For years Mateo Sobode Chiqueño records songs, stories and conversations to register the Ayoreo community in Paraguay, a disappearing culture.

Length: 75 min
Country: Paraguay, Switzerland
Language spoken: Spanish, Ayoreo
Language subtitles: Dutch
Director: Arami Ullón
Release date: 2020


Mateo Sobode Chiqueno’s Ayoreo ancestors worshiped the sun, which they saw as a superior and generous being. But for him and his generation, the sun has primarily become a threat, turning deforested areas into dry, dusty plains—filmed here beautifully but ominously.

Some Ayoreo still live in seclusion in the forests of the Chaco in Paraguay. But many more, among them Sobode Chiqueno, were herded into isolated settlements by missionaries, who took their land and forcibly converted them to Christianity.

He started recording Ayoreo conversations, stories, and songs in the 1970s, and is still traveling to Ayoreo communities with his now-antique cassette recorder to interview them and collect their voices for his audio archive. Occasionally the device eats a tape, which he fixes with patient fiddling. The conversations express uncertainty about the loss of identity. Is it a problem that a culture disappears in order to adapt to another?