Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 135–137 | Cite as

HAKANI: A Film Review

©2008. Produced and directed by David Loren Cunningham. 37 minutes. Available at
  • Ruchika MishraEmail author

Among our most primal fears is surely the fear of slowly suffocating to death. Hakani is a film that documents the chilling tradition of burying children alive, practised by many Indigenous Brazilian tribes. Producer and director David Cunningham addresses this issue in his 37-minute docudrama by following the life of a two-year old girl named Hakani who is buried alive by her own tribe, the Suruwaha. Though the movie is a re-enactment, everyone who worked in the film had either been buried alive or rescued someone who was subject to this practice.

The movie opens with a coming of age celebration for Aruwaji, the older brother of Bibi, Niawi, and Hakani. Dihiji smears his son’s body with red paint, a marker of the entry into adulthood, and then the men of the tribe take turns at flogging Aruwaji. As in many tribal customs, the rite of passage involves the young adult’s victory over pain and fear. When the celebrations are disrupted by a violent storm that totally devastates the...


Documentary film Review Infanticide Ethics Culture Vulnerable populations Cultural anthropology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Medicine & Human ValuesCalifornia Pacific Medical CentreSan FranciscoUSA

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