Director Marco Bechis; Release date: out now
Last month hundreds of the Guarani-Kaiowá, an indigenous group in Brazil, were burned out of their homes. Marco Bechis describes his timely new film as showing "the reality of the Guarani-Kaiowá. What was under the table is now on the top of the table for everyone to see."
This film is drama but it is also a portrayal of reality. Overtly political, the director makes a plea for support for the cause of indigenous Native American people and seeks to show the injustices they face.
With a soundtrack of bird songs and numerous aerial shots of the rainforest, you feel the overwhelming nature of the environment and rainforest. He contrasts this with a portrayal of the vast area of land that now lies bare - a stark reminder of the impact of global corporations on the Amazon.
However, the film itself is much more than just a propaganda piece for the Guarani, and questions around environmentalism, imperialism and capitalism are also raised.
The film starts with a group of tourists travelling through what remains of the rainforest when they encounter a group of Native Americans. Reduced to little more than attractions for wealthy tourists, they are made to wear face paint and native dress to appeal to the tourists' demands in return for receiving payment. But their passivity is challenged by the suicide of two girls in the community which drives them to extreme measures and the occupation of a wealthy farmer's land.
As the film progresses, it deals with the conflict between the wealthy rancher Moreira (Leonardo Medeiros) and the Guarani people, who slowly start to grow and gain momentum. Moreira holds racist views towards the indigenous people, and registers his disgust at having them living so close to his land. Nadio, the leader of the Guarani, is played by Ambrosio Vilhalva, himself a political leader of a Guarani community who has taken part in repeated battles for repossession of ancestral lands. He points out that they have nowhere else to go; all of the forest in which they used to hunt is now gone. Ultimately, they inhabited the land long before the European settlers stole it.
The film offers a refreshingly honest portrait of the struggle that is emerging in South America between Native Americans and white settlers. There are moments of great subtlety, such as in the portrayal of the ideological splits within the camp when people debate whether to work for the white settlers when there is no food left.
The inhumane treatment faced by the Guarani results in alcoholism and sometimes suicide. Bechis shows the racial oppression faced by the Guarani every day, but he also highlights how this is compounded by the oppression they face in low paid, unstable domestic jobs. He reveals how imperialism, environmentalism and the destruction of the rainforests are all closely linked. But there is also optimism as you witness the potential for indigenous people to fight back against the system that has dehumanised them.