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BIRDWATCHERS

Director: MARCO BECHIS

ITALY-BRAZIL • 2008 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL • 104 MIN


THE PLIGHT OF THE INDIGENOUS GUARANI-KAIOWA PEOPLE OF THE AMAZON BASIN IS BROUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION IN THIS ENGAGED YET NEVER SIMPLISTIC DRAMA WHERE THEY ENACT THEIR TYPICAL EXPERIENCES CAUGHT BETWEEN TRADITION AND ‘PROGRESS’.

Life on a state-protected reservation proves not to be a viable solution, since their stoic leader moves his group to their ancestral site, from which they draw strength to endure. Given the deforestation of the Amazon to make way for agriculture however, the jungle which used to provide all their food has now been ploughed up. The fields belong to a wealthy white farmer who’s worried their presence will start a migratory movement among the other Indos, thus threatening the livelihood of fellow fruit growers, so an uneasy stand-off begins.

Director Marco Bechis, a political exile from Argentina who has since worked in Italy, makes no pretence towards neutrality, and has obviously formed a close working bond with the Guarani cast in the film, all of whom deliver skilled and effective performances of unimpeachable authenticity. There’s a complexity of analysis here however, which makes the film far more than blunt agit-prop, since the farming community has its own connection to the land which is now more productive than it ever was, while the unwritten laws of sexual desire also play their part in relations between the two sides. Cocking a snook at notions of eco-tourism, this is a provocative, passionate and timely report from a landscape whose graphically changing contours may leave no place for the very people who have its soil in their blood.
— Trevor Johnston.

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