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Thread: THE TERRITORY (Alex Pritz 2022) - DocLands Festival

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    THE TERRITORY (Alex Pritz 2022) - DocLands Festival

    ALEX PRITZ: THE TERRITORY (2022) - DocLands Festival


    BATITÉ URU-EU-WAU-WAU IN THE TERRITORY

    The war on nature and native populations in the Amazon and how they fight back

    The focus of this beautifully made new documentary, The Territory, is the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, indigenous natives of the Amazonian rainforest region who once numbered in the thousands and now are reduced to about 180. They live in an island of trees surrounded by invaders' farms encouraged by the right wing Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro elected in 2018, the starting point of the three-year period covered by this film. The "territory" is a 7,000-square-mile region in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, sovereign land of the Uru-eu-wau-wau and other Indigenous groups. It is being invaded and destroyed by white settlers. The white people say the indigenous people ask for too much land, says an Uru-eu-wau-wau spokesperson, but they need it to breathe. And the rainforest, we know, is needed for the planet to breathe, for humanity to breathe.

    The planet has become overpopulated; feeding it endangers the environment. The food doesn't need to be meat, but that most damaging industry is most profitable. The cultivation of livestock ravages the earth and increases global warming. Consuming meat en masse will ultimately become unsustainable.

    The planetary tipping point is the Amazon rainforest, the "lungs of the planet" which are being excised to provide lumber and cleared land for livestock farming. This is the larger subject of The Territory - a film stunning in more ways than one, because it is both beautiful and horrifying. It is the work of brilliant cinematographers - Alex Pritz himself and indigenous collaborators supplied with cameras - and with the rich sound design of Peter Albrechtsen. The lenses are neutral. The felling of great old grown trees is awesome, the drilling and crushing of wood. We admire equally the buzz of insects and birds and of saws; we see the flurry of butterflies and of wood chips flying and enjoy the sizzle of settlers' big pieces of barbecued meat.

    It's like the white people invading North America, killing Native Americans and driving them off their land. But there are too many people now and not enough land. And now everyone knows the word "indigenous" and cannot claim these gentle native people to be "savages." The planet is running out of land, and the rainforest is more crucial than the American West ever was even when it was thought a mine of gold. What is happening here made me think of how the Zionists took over Palestinian lands, and Sheri Linden in her Hollywood Reporter review of The Territory has the same idea. She points out this film asks questions about how often "the pioneer spirit" has "gone hand-in-hand with genocide and the destruction of tribal lands in the Americas." Obviously the Uru-eu-wau-wau are threatened with extinction. But this is an extinction that threatens us all.

    The focus is on a few of the Uru-eu-wau-wau we meet and learn the names of using drones who surveil and warn of invading settlers who seize their territory and settle on it and denude it and who record these incursions to report to the government. We meet numerous Uru-eu-wau-wau including Bitaté, age 18, chosen by the elders to be groomed as their new leader. He's aware of his great responsibility, of the rainforest's being crucial to the whole planet. Important is the environmental activist Neidinha Bandeira, who works tirelessly with the indigenous people to protect their land. She is not just a mentor to Bitaté but a "second mother." Bitaté also looks up to Ari, who leads the Uru-eu-wau-wau surveillance team, working with Neidinha. (Later Ari is assassinated, and Neidinha puts up a billboard demanding to know who did it.)

    Soon we see the logic of Bitaté as leader: he is young, and so he's electronics and media savvy. He shows his comrades how to use drones and wireless communications and cameras inter-connectedly to provide clear legal evidence of incursions. They are a team, they wear matching T shirts and shorts and they are armed - both with electronics and with bows and arrows.

    In the other camp we meet Sérgio, founder of the settlers' Association Rio Bonito, founded to legitimize their activities, who look on themselves as Wild West style pioneers "living the dream" of "owning some land and making a living from it." Sérgio, who is 49, has worked other people's land all his life, seeks to map and register the settlements - though there are settlers, represented by Martins, who haven't time for that and are ready to serve jail terms in the course of gaining possession of land. We can understand these men's dreams; but we also understand that big farmers may very well be waiting in the wings and have nothing idealistic or admirable about them.

    This is the present day, and now it is August 2020, and the COVID pandemic, brought to the region of course by the settlers, threatens to wipe out the indigenous people. In an exciting sequence of filming by the team of Bitaté, we see the Uru-eu-wau-wau become more active, sneaking up on and arresting invaders, burning their settlements - actions that gain national media attention so hat politicians drop the Association and Sérgio disbands Rio Bonito because it's anathema now. The tide is still against the Uru-eu-wau-wau, but the film ends on a positive note. And a stunning impression of its supple score by Katya Mihailova, rich sound design, and incredible cinematography and editing. A first rate job about issues crucial to the planet.

    The Territory, 83 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 22, 2022 (two documentary awards there), and showed in eight other festivals including Copenhagen, True-False, and It's All True (Sao Paulo). Five awards and seven nominations. Now screening at DocLands, Mill Valley, CA, May 6, 2022. : 88%. A National Geographic film. Metacritic rating: 84%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-28-2022 at 09:56 PM.

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    One of the year's best documentaries, this film is a must-see: Amazon deforestation continues to hit record levels, as recent reports show (see GUARDIAN, May 7, 2022).

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    More about THE TERRITORY.

    THE TERRITORY is a National Geographic release, runs 83 minutes, filmed in the US, Brazil, & Denmark, and is currently unrated by the MPA. It had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2022. It is scheduled to be released in the United States on August 19, 2022, by National Geographic Documentary Films.

    About the film

    THE TERRITORY provides an immersive on-the-ground look at the tireless fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by illegal settlers and an association of nonnative farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. With awe-inspiring cinematography showcasing the titular landscape and richly textured sound design, the film takes audiences deep into the Uru-eu-wau-wau community and provides unprecedented access to the settlers illegitimately burning and clearing land along with a network of farmers fighting to legitimize their illegal land grab.

    Partially shot by the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, the film relies on vérité footage captured over three years as the community risks their lives to set up their own news media team in the hopes of exposing the truth.

    About the filmmaker Alex Pritz

    Alex Pritz is a documentary film director and cinematographer focused on human’s relationship with the natural world. Pritz’s directorial debut, THE TERRITORY, premiered in the World Cinema competition at Sundance 2022, winning both an Audience Award and Special Jury Award for Documentary Craft, making it the only film at that year’s festival to win awards from audience and jury alike. Pritz also worked as a cinematographer on the feature documentary THE FIRST WAVE with director Matt Heineman, and as a cinematographer and field producer on Jon Kasbe’s feature documentary WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS (Tribeca 2018). Prior to that, Pritz co-directed, shot and edited the documentary short MY DEAR KYRGYZSTAN (Big Sky 2019). He is a co-founder of Documist and has received grants from the Sundance Institute, IDA Enterprise Fund, Catapult Fund and Doc Society.

    Pritz holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University, where he studied Environmental Science and Philosophy. In 2012, he received an inaugural Dalai Lama Fellowship for his work developing film curricula alongside low-income communities in the Philippines and taught participatory film workshops for lawyers and human rights advocates around the world.

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    THE TERRITORY US THEATRICAL RELEASE

    US theatrical release Aug. 19, 2022 (Quad Cinema NYC), California Landmark Theaters Aug. 26.

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    Aug. 18, 2022. THE TERRITORY, out tomorrow, was featured on "Democracy Now" this morning with Amy Goodman interviewing director Alex Pritz and the two main people in the film, Bitaté Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, the young Uru-eu-wau-wau leader, and activist Neidinha Bandeira, both in New York for promotion of the film, which was held in Central Park. Click above for this timely coverage and the interesting interviews.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-18-2022 at 07:12 PM.

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    THE FRONT LINES OF THE END OF THE WORLD — AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE THE AMAZON



    Aug. 28, 2022.
    This is the headline for a story in THE INTERCEPT today by Andrew Fishman about Alex Pritz's THE TERRITORY and where things are now with the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau indigenous people, the settlers, and the administration of right-wing Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro. Notably, polls show the general Brazilian population supports protection of the Amazon lands. There are signs that leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is more popular than Bolsonaro and may win reelection, which will be a break for the Amazon and the plenet. Below is the beginning of Fishman's piece. The rest of it can be found HERE.

    A SOLITARY MAN wades through lush tropical rainforest as a rich chorus of birds and insects chirp all around him. Then: a chainsaw, a tree crashes down, and a barren expanse with dozens of cattle corralled tightly together. The opening frames of “The Territory,” a new documentary from director Alex Pritz, lay out the two clashing visions for the future of Amazon rainforest without using any words at all.

    “The only thing that’s saving our planet is our rainforest,” says Bitaté, a young member of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous people, in the film. “I believe the Amazon is the heart not just of Brazil, but the whole world.”

    "The Territory," which is showing in select U.S. and Canadian cities, chronicles the perilous efforts of Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau like Bitaté to defend their ancestral home as white settlers seek to illegally slash and burn the forest and turn it into pasturelands. The forest is officially protected by the Brazilian government, but Pritz shows how far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and the Brazilian state’s hostility toward Indigenous people emboldens the land thieves.

    The film is very timely. Brazil is gearing up for highly polarized presidential elections in October. And, with the climate emergency exploding across the globe, environmental and Indigenous concerns remain in the spotlight, particularly following the brutal assassinations of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon in June.

    Cattle ranching is the leading cause of Amazon deforestation, which has increased at a dramatic rate in recent years, much of it illegal. So much of the rainforest has already been cut down that scientists believe we are on the verge of an irreversible tipping point. The Amazon also serves as an essential carbon sink in the fight against climate change and generates the rainfall that supports almost all life on the South American continent. Ranching, as well as mining, logging, and factory farming — embraced by politicians and bankers as agents of “economic progress” — are driving us ever closer to an environmental (and socioeconomic) catastrophe.

    “THE TERRITORY” WAS shot on the front lines of an active war zone almost 500 years after the conflict began, following the arrival of the first Europeans in search of gold. No nuclear weapons are involved, but the conflict has the potential to dramatically alter the course of life on Earth.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-28-2022 at 10:00 PM.

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