The Spirit of the Ancestors

(Te Kuhane o te Tupuna: El espíritu de los ancestros)
Leonardo Pakarati | Documentary

2015 | 63 minutes | Chile

Three generations of the Pakarati family travel to Europe to reclaim the Stolen Friend - one of Rapa Nui's (Easter Island) sacred spirits - which was stolen by colonizers and is one of the countless sacred objects housed in museums worldwide.


The Spirit of the Ancestors tells the story of Moia Hoa Haka Nana’ia, one of Rapa Nui's (Easter Island) sacred spirits, also known as the Stolen Friend in the island. Colonizers took the massive, iconic carving 100 years ago, and is now one of the countless living objects now housed in museums worldwide.

For the Rapa Nui, the Moia is infused with Mana, the power essential to their lives and well-being. His absence from the island – where he watched over them with his kin – threatens their survival as the link between spirit and people weakens over time. Worse still, the younger generations’ link to their ancestors is at risk.

This documentary follows three generations of the Pakarati family as they travel to Europe to try to reclaim the Stolen Friend, bring his spirit home and ensure a strong future for those to come.


"[The film's] main value lies in the fact that it is the Rapa Nui who create the discourse and, although they include the perspective of scholars and experts, most importantly the actual voices of the ancestors give weight to the film." — Antonella Estévez, Diario UChile

"Pakarati's use of archival material throughout the film is powerful and creates a lasting impression of his family's roots and that of the Rapa Nui people while shedding light on the island's present state and its trajectory towards the future." — Documentary Drive

"Spirit of the Ancestors does a great job of trying to educate viewers on the past and the current social and political implications of the island without being too overwhelming." — Documentary Drive

Main credits

Pakarati, Leonardo (film director)
Pakarati, Leonardo (screenwriter)
Rossetti, Paula (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Guillermo Bravo; editor, Diego Macho Gómez; music, Yoyo Tuki.

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Valdivia International Film Festival
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Arica Nativa Film Festival
Chiloe Documentary Film Festival
International Indigenous Film Festival of Wallmapu
Pasifika Film Fest Australia

DIRECTOR: Leonardo Pakarati


YEAR: 2015

GENRE: Documentary

LANGUAGE: Spanish; Indigenous languages

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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