"The Territory": An indigenous people in the Amazon takes control of its fate, fights back against land clearing

I remember learning geography in grade school, and that “states” were part of a country but “territories” were possessions of a country. That doesn’t always hold (Canada and Australia, for example).

But “The Territory”, directed by Alex Pritz (with help from Darren Aronofsky and Protozoan films) for National Geographic Documentary and Picturehouse (83 min), hits hard the political and social battle in Brazil that has such a big effect on climate change. The Amazon may be the lungs of the World, but it belongs mostly to just one country, one very much leading to the right under Jair Bolsonaro.

The film really comes across as an acted (even screenwritten) drama pitting an indigenous people (Uru-eue-wau-wau) in the rain forest against encroaching farmers and loggers trying to clear the land “illegally”.  Despite the right-wing government, indigenous areas are supposed to have some protections, which politicians work around.

Eventually a kid named Ari is murdered, but a young leader Bitate (20 years old, playing himself, as do all of the characters) emerges.  He arrests one other poacher,  and actually mentions the possibility that the settlers could give the tribe COVID19 (this is late 2020), to which they have less immunity than even most other Brazilians (and there were several severe outbreaks in Brazil).  Yet Bolsanaro used to scream 'stop whining, get back to work', to the horror of Carlos Maza (I remember the latter's tweets).

For the first half of the movie this afternoon at Landmark E St in downtown Washington DC, the subtitles did not show.  Even so there were plenty of interesting scenes of everyday life, like feeding tame parrots; it was not as primitive as usually presumed. When the subtitles finally showed, the entire screen (2.35:1) was shrunk a little to accommodate them below (they were not in the picture). I thought most films had the subtitles in the actual image frame.

Right now, the people making the sacrifices for climate change are those burned out by fires or washed away by unprecedented floods.  Eventually it becomes more political and social, and personal.  In my lifetime?

(Posted: Friday, August 26, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)