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Amazon Tribe Behind the Camera in Nat Geo Film The Territory

#Amazon #Tribe #Camera #Nat #Geo #Film #Territory

When Covid-19 hit the Brazilian Amazon and an indigenous tribe sealed off their borders, director Alex Pritz found an innovative way to complete his documentary – handing the cameras over to the Uru-eu-wow-wow themselves.

“The Territory,” to be published by National Geographic on Friday, follows the plight of about 200 hunter-gatherers living in a protected rainforest area that is being surrounded and invaded by aggressive and illegal settlers, farmers and loggers.

While the Uru-eu-wow-wow and their young leader Bitate – the film’s main subject – are shown in the film dressed in traditional garb and honoring ancient customs, they were more than happy to use modern technology to fight back.

“When Covid happened, Bitate made the really brave decision to say, ‘Okay, no more journalists coming to our area, no more filmmakers, no more Alex, no more documentary crew, nobody,'” Pritz said.

“We had to have a conversation with him like, ‘Okay, are we done with the movie? Do we have everything we need? Is there more?

“Bitate was really clear: ‘No, we’re not done yet. We still have a lot to do. You weren’t done before, why should you be done now?’

“‘Just send us better cameras, send us audio equipment, and we shoot and produce the last part of the film.'”

The result was a “co-production model” where an uru-eu-woof-woof filmmaker is credited as the cinematographer and the wider community acts as a producer with profit sharing and a say in business decisions about the film’s distribution.

Aside from allowing filming to continue during the pandemic, Pritz believes the decision to provide equipment and training directly to the Uru-eu-wau-wau benefited the film by providing a “first-hand perspective” added on the group’s activities, which include patrolling the country to arrest intruders.

“I’ve done a few surveillance missions myself. None of them made it!” said Pritz.

“Not because we wanted to devolve filmmaking…it was more raw, it was more urgent.”

– “Digital Children” –

Even before Pritz’ crew arrived, the Uru-eu-wau-wau were adept at harnessing the power of modern technology and media to defend their cause, positioning themselves on the global stage as guardians of a forest whose survival comes with questions climate change and biodiversity.

“Bitate and this younger generation within the Uru-eu-woof-woof are digital children. He was born in the late 90s. He’s on Instagram. And that’s part of how he engages with the world,” Pritz said.

When drones appear early in the documentary, taking stunning and harrowing footage of massive deforestation, many viewers assume they belong to the filmmakers, Pritz said.

In fact, the flying cameras were bought and operated by the Uru-eu-wau-wau themselves.

“Whereas it would have taken four days to walk across a mountain range with dense, ancient rainforest… you can be there in 30 minutes with the drone, you have images tagged with metadata,” Pritz said.

“People can’t disagree with that.”

It’s a stark contrast to the farmers and settlers who are also central themes in the film.

In astonishing footage, the documentary follows a group who brazenly torches protected forests with chainsaws and illegally clears roads to areas they hope to one day settle and claim as their own.

Access was possible because many settlers see themselves as heroic pioneers, speaking in interviews with Pritz about developing the rainforest for the good of their nation – a heady mix of “Wild West” cowboy culture borrowed from American films and nationalist propaganda , which is being fueled by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“The settlers were these naïve people who didn’t understand the historical context of what they were doing, the ecological consequences of what they were doing to the rest of the planet,” Pritz said.

For the settlers, many of whom lack education or other economic opportunities, “it was just ‘me and mine,’ ‘just this one little piece of land,’ ‘if only I can get that.'”

“Whereas Bitate has this expansive perspective. He thinks about climate change. He thinks about the planet. He is politically savvy and media oriented.”

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#Amazon #Tribe #Camera #Nat #Geo #Film #Territory

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