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This Oscar nominated film is the story of two men who are opposites, one gay, the other straight, one a fierce communist, the other a fierce individualist, one suspicious, the other accepting, and how they come to love each other.
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,
Juan Carlos Tabío
The Birdwatcher is the story of Saffron, a single mother of two, who after being diagnosed with cancer, embarks on a journey to re-connect with her estranged birth mother in the hopes of finding a home for her children when she is gone.
A boat with tourists is sailing up the river through the jungle. Suddenly they come face-to-face with Indians, naked apart from their paint, with self-made weapons at the ready. The tourists sail on excitedly. The Indians put on their jeans and collect their daily wages. The Guarani, one of Brazil's oldest Indian communities, are forced to live in a reservation. A small group of Guarani decide to leave the reservation and settle in a traditional territory that has belonged to white men for several generations. The clash between two conflicting cultures is conceived as a suspense story with mystical elements. The actors are real Indians with no actor training. Written by
Warsaw Film Festival
Set amongst the Guarani-Kaiowa community in their native Brazil, Birdwatchers depicts the breakdown between the white settlers and the ever-decreasing tribe. Tired of living in a designated settlement, stoic community leader Nadio (Ambrosio Vilhava) decides to take back the land that their ancestors are buried on. Only the land has been taken over by white farmers who are making a wealthy living from the land. Tensions increase further when the young Osvaldo (Pedro Abrisio Da Silva), who is learning to cut out indulging in things like red meat and women to become a shamen, begins a friendship with the farmers daughter.
Over the past number of years, hundreds of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe have committed suicide. Their religion is based around a God they call Nande Ru, and they worship the land they live on and so respect. Like many indigenous tribes, they have seen their land raped and poached, and have been driven off to seek underpaid labour. The film depicts the suicides early on, as Nadio finds two women hanging from nearby trees. He is not shocked, as he has seen this happened many times before. The film gets its real power from the fact that this is reality, and shocked me at my ignorance and the failure of any real coverage of this decreasing community.
The film is also funny, beautiful and moving. Most hilarious is the scene in which Mami (Eliane Juca Da Silva) seduces one of the farmers in order to get hold of his gun. He is seen as a bit of an idiot throughout the film, and Mami and the other tribeswomen mockingly dub him as 'long d**k'. As he has sex with Mami, she is laughing shouting 'long d**k!' at him. It's a strangely funny scene. The actors are probably so effective due to the fact that these are actual members of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe, and had to be introduced to the concept of cinema before receiving their brief acting lessons. I suspect they didn't need acting lessons, and their emotions and history are written all over their faces.
The film wisely doesn't show everything so simply and one-sided. It is a complex issue that deserves a complex depiction. The farmer Moreira (Leonardo Medeiros), dismayed at the tribe settling on the land where he grows his crops, explains how this is the farm he inherited from generations before him. The land belongs to him as much as it does to the tribe. This is the only land he knows, and what a beautiful land it is. The Brazilian landscape is filmed with a natural beauty, which allows us to understand why the Guarani-Kaiowa worship the land so. A powerful film, and when director Marco Bechis flashes up the charity dedicated to preserving the tribe at the end of the film, it will fill you with guilt that you can live in a world that would fail to recognise their struggle and plight.
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