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My Neighbour from the Amazon

‘My neighbour from the Amazon’ (2020) is an anthropological travelogue film exploring what shapes the relationship between people and land, and in what ways these relationships take transnational forms. In intimate hands shot footage we travel along with a father and daughter who journey to the Amazones to buy a piece of land. The land is neighbouring an Indigenous village Pinuya 27 of the Huni Kuin tribe in the state of Acre, Brazil at the border of Peru.

Confronted with a complex history of land and people, we meet the native forest, the water that flows through the area, the flora and fauna and the animals and people living there. We glimpse back at history of how indigenous people were conquered and colonised by Europeans. How the forest became an industry for rubber tapping and with that the enslavement and dislocation of indigenous people. Industries arose of rubbertapping, cattle raising and soya plantations, endangering the native forests.

The remaining forest we see today is under threat because of increasing industry and illegal deforestation, the political climate, mining and the forest fires that have been haunting the Amazon and the forests all over the world.

We are faced with the question how we as Western people must relate to the effects and consequences of this history and if and how we can alter these today. The Huni Kuin tribe we meet comes from dislocated native villages and started an initiative making a new village of their fractured heritage in the 1970s. While building up their community they simultaneously planted seeds and restored the plains into the lush forest it once was.

Van der Velde gives us insight in a micro-attempt to protect and preserve a piece of the forest, that otherwise would have been used to raise cattle or plant soja. It is a small initiative of Western outsiders and Brazilian locals aimed at protecting the forest. While critically aware of the question of how the post-colonial relations affect our part in these relations and stories. Because may it be white saviorism or not, there is an urgent appeal to act and form bonds to try to move the course of history into a way of balance, harmony and peace with nature and all people.

Watch the film here: