Amazonia: Voices from the Rain Forest

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


The fervor over the fate of the rain forests has risen to international proportions because their loss could potentially devastate the globe. But the individual human consequences being suffered by its inhabitants have rarely reached the eyes or ears of those of us who live in lands far from the forest, with our comfortable life-styles. Amazonia brings us as close as we are likely to get to the dwellers of the rain forest; it's a direct address by the Amazonian people to tell us about their history and fate. Indeed what becomes evident following account after account of abuse is that development in the area is expelling people from their homes, resulting in hunger and sickness, and concentrating land and wealth in the hands of a few while ruining the lives of the many. It is creating an atmosphere conducive to violence. Beginning with the indigenous Indian tribes, and continuing with the rubber trappers and farmers, we learn that the tragedy of the rain forest is the tragedy of these people's lives. And this tragedy will eventually travel to all parts of the world. Amazonia is a provider and healer: therefore, we must not merely preserve the forest; we must respect it.

Filmmakers Glenn Switkes and Rosaines Aguirre impose few editorial boundaries, and allow all people with an interest in Amazonia to express their sentiments. In addition to the Amazon dwellers, the economic and development interests speak. including the military, the Amazonian Businessman's Association, energy and mining personnel, and ranchers. Amazonia asserts the indigenous Indians' message to the world: "We have a right to the future as much as any technological society." Beyond the rhetoric, the film is a remarkably photographed journey into this unforgiving land, capturing all its mystery, beauty and grace. Through their careful editing and astute interviews, the filmakers offer a sweeping view of the Amazon, and identify its adversaries: hatred, greed and injustice.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

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