The cast had never acted and scripts were impossible, but Chilean director Marco Bechis still managed to make his film about obscure Brazilian Indians. Tom Phillips finds out how
By Tom Phillips
Instead, acting on the advice of members of indigenous rights group Survival International, whom he had met in Milan, Bechis travelled to the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. There he found Vilhava and the Guaraní-Kaiowá people struggling to regain their land, thousands of miles south of the world's largest tropical rainforest. "When I met the Kaiowá just dressed in normal clothes, drinking alcohol and using mobile phones–even if they were never charged up because they don't have electricity–I said: 'This is what Indians are today. This is the film.'"
Shot over 10 weeks in 2007, Birdwatchers focuses on a group of Guaraní-Kaiowá as they attempt to reclaim their land from a local farmer, in what is known in Portuguese as a retomada or "retaking." While the wealthy cattle rancher kicks back on his idyllic country estate, showing European birdwatchers slides of the local wildlife, the Guaraní-Kaiowá eke out a precarious existence, slaving away on sugar cane plantations and living in a shabby squatter settlement.
Then there's this tidbit:
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.
Below: "Ademilson Concianza Verga as Irineu in Birdwatchers."