Documentary presents stark reality of the Amazon at the World Water Forum (Fórum Mundial da Água)

How the message of a film was able to overcome the organizational limits of the world's biggest water event

By Lucas Lacerda

Brasília received more than 100 thousand people for the World Water Forum, wich took place at the Mané Garrincha Stadium and the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Center between 18th and 23rd March. The magnificence of the eighth and biggest edition ever of the event contrasted with the fragile situation of water supplies in the Brazilian capital. Since January of 2017, inhabitants of the Federal District have faced rotating supply implemented by the Environmental Sanitation Company of the Federal District (Companhia de Saneamento Ambiental do Distrito Federal - Caesb) due to water scarcity. The event area, however, was spared from rationing.

 Devastating image of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia Rainforest in the production of a soybean field flanking the National Forest of the Tapajos (FLONA) Photo: Santarém/PA 2017 © Beyond Fordlândia.

Devastating image of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia Rainforest in the production of a soybean field flanking the National Forest of the Tapajos (FLONA) Photo: Santarém/PA 2017 © Beyond Fordlândia.

Contradictions marked the conception and the 274 discussions programmed for the Forum. While agropop representatives – united around the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária do Brasil - CNA) – demonstrated the strength of their business, which represents the highest and least efficient consumption of water in the country, participants in the Alternative World Water Forum (Fórum Alternativo Mundial da Água - FAMA) denounced the shadowy interests behind the official discourse with the cry “Water is a right, not a commodity!”.

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In this scenario, Marcos Colón's production, Beyond Fordlândia, sought to enhance one of the most urgent discussions in relation to water, human beings and Amazonian vegetation. The film was presented at the showcase of the Green Film Program, held at Cine Brasília, with 46 other productions selected for the WWF. Conceived with an approach of processes of slow violence, the first foray of the director makes a historical connection between the failed venture of Henry Ford's rubber plantation on the banks of the Tapajós river and contemporary agribusiness driven by the soy industry. 

The eco-critical approach of the director revisits episodes of devastation in Fordlândia from 1927 – today the Aveiro-PA district – and its implications in the imagery of a period of bonanza grafted on the Amazon rainforest. Besides the failed rubber project, Ford would also leave a legacy in Belterra, the place of the first experimentation with soy. 

Amazon in Check

On the morning of March 21st, there was a lecture with the director of the UnB College of Comunication (Faculdade de Comunicação da Universidade de Brasília), mediated by Professor Dr. Rose May Carneiro. The lecture dealt with some of the points from the doctorate research being developed by Colón, such as the idea of slow violence, from researcher Rob Nixon, and its link to ecocritical concepts, of Rachel Carson, for the formulation of a new approach to similar processes to those reported in the film.

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In the midst of the great economic cycles imposed upon the Amazon, Beyond Fordlândia grasps the remnants and demonstrates to the public the interrupted futures of the traditional communities, the Quilombolas, the Indians and their relatives in the region in dispute. For the president of the  Historical and Geographical Institute of Amazonas (Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Amazonas), Marilene Corrêa, this is a panorama that is not receiving the attention it is due. 

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“We don't have a public political focus or research funding aimed at this theme of large-scale ventures and their impacts on the biomes and ecosystems. It is a story deserving a permanent critical perspective as a task of the Brazilian intelligentsia – the University”, criticized the researcher, reinforcing that it is necessary to have “a direct line of investigation to measure the impact of agribusiness on the extremely fragile cerrado biome and the part of it bordering the Amazon”.

The professor refers to a crucial point of Amazonian environmental policy. It is known that soy could spread across the south of the country and advance through the cerrado – as it did with well-known aggressiveness. It could not, in any hypothesis, reach the region of the forest. It has not only invaded, but has been slowly installed there, being able to reach a level of indigenous accumulation, that is, an irreversible process of environmental destruction and sociocultural impact.

Old Ghosts

During the lecture, Colón exposed some points from his doctorate research applied to production of the documentary, which would also be picked up again in the screening session at Cine Brasília, on the night of March 21st. Based on the critical approach of the invasion of economic capital in the Amazon, Colón proposes new perspectives and methodologies for the observation of these processes.

“We have reached a moment to stop, think and intervene in the process in some way, or the future will contemplate a wide variety of hardships. Differently to rubber, soy destroys the landscapes, contaminates the ground waters, wipes out family agriculture and, at its greatest extent is killing humans, the last element in these chains”, he began.

The director, who is researching Amazonian representation in literary works of the 20th century, indicates that this process is one of slow violence. It passes right before the eyes of society, but happening almost imperceptibly, against the environment, against culture, against human beings, following its path in silence. It is therefore necessary to look at the Amazon in different ways. 

It would be an approach of slow seeing, to understand how these processes were designed and engrained in the region, so that other ways and less aggressive models may be proposed for the forest. 

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“And this is the approach of the film in relation to water: the agribusiness industry is the highest consumer of water in Brazil. The process of pesticide infiltration contaminates groundwater and bodies of water. The central issue in agribusiness, as well as in the cases of Juruti and the Bacarena episode, are all linked to the theme of water. It is a political divestment of the State”, criticized Colón, demonstrating that leniency with these problemas is related to the lack of a slow perspective capable of grasping the entire complexity of the processes.

Beyond Institutions

In all its contradictions, the Forum, participation in which came at a price (455BRL - approximately $135), had limitations to its discussions. As a mega event, it was necessary to discuss in institutional terms, with the aim of perfecting the use and preservation of water. In his column in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, journalist André Trigueiro attested to the excellent legacy of the Forum and indicated the challenges to water management, besides the challenges of renewed confrontation of water and sanitation problems from the sense of urgency garnered at the Forum. 

However, the message from institutions consolidated and committed to their own interests is limited, despite the good intentions and necessity of survival. It is at this moment that the filmic language manages to reach far beyond and bring a sense of raw local urgency to the world. 

“Interviewed [in the film], a gaucho owner of one of the soybean farms, defends that three or four more ports be built! According to him, ‘there's just a load of trees in the Amazon and we have to make money..." This interview translates how the majority of Brazilians, until today, see the forest, the ecosystems, nature, as an ‘obstacle' to development, without ever questioning this model of agro-exporter of raw materials that only brings disastrous consequences to the country”, commented historian Jane de Alencar, present at the screening.

That night, the message was for the audience at Cine Brasília. If there was one word to define the session, it was perplexity. The message of Beyond Fordlândia is clear: The irrational exploitation of natural resources is going full steam ahead, and it is down to a conscious society to seek alternatives to this process.

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Beyond Fordlândia expands discussion on the Amazon in the United States

Production debated in Californian universities and wins another prize

The documentary Beyond Fordlândia paid an important visit to the states of California and Illinois, in the United States. In the midst of a worldwide agenda of events, the film was presented and debated on the campuses of the University of California in San Diego, Santa Barbara and Davis.

“The documentary eloquently presents the consequences of the intensive practice of extractivism, implicitly comparing, in the same vein, the failed project of Henry Ford with today's intensive soy production in the same region — while demonstrating their differences”, commented professor Ricardo Vasconcelos of San Diego State University .

Vasconcelos added that the film also served as a rich source of contemporaneous information on the Amazon for the public, considering the critical moment of economic pressure suffered by the forest.

Daniel Ares-Lopez, another professor of the institution, highlighted how flabbergasted those present were in relation to the Amazonian panorama presented in the film.

“During the debate we observed that the public had been genuinely affected by the film. Many students showed their concern regarding the relationship between American agro-industrial corporations and the socio-environmental destruction of the Amazon”, recalled Ares-Lopez.

New prize

Outside the academic environment, the production was also screened at the 10th Geneva Film Festival and the Peace on Earth Film Festival. Geneva was the stage for another conquest - the prize for “Emerging Documentary Filmmaker,” the fifth prize for the film in just a few months! With the powerful narrative it presents, the film has guaranteed recognition and visibility for the Amazonian cause.

Peace On Earth, which is dedicated to ecological, cultural and political approaches and themes, presented a discussion with the directors and creators of the films. The neurosurgeon, Erik Jennings, who is among the cast of Beyond Fordlândia, presented some of the work developed in the Amazon and his reflections on the panorama of the region.

“The film proved to be a genuinely strong and moving voice at the Peace On Earth Festival. An Amazonian voice that director Marcos Colón has brought to the world with a great deal of courage and competence. At the heart of the issue is human suffering, prematurely silenced by the disease or by some form of  violence ”, reported Jennings.

The exhibition circuit continues! Follow the dates in our diary and participate in the movement of Raise Your Voice for the Amazon!

Beyond Fordlândia e as fronteiras: documentário investiga o passado e os futuros da Amazônia

O que leva um professor a embarcar numa jornada de 18 meses na Amazônia?

O Brasil está na reta final dos preparativos para receber a oitava edição do Fórum Mundial da Água, que acontece em Brasília entre os dias 18 e 23 de março. Cerca de 7.500 participantes, oriundos de 150 países, já estão confirmados. O Green Film Festival é um dos destaques na programação do evento, e neste ano a mostra competitiva de longas-metragens recebe o documentário “Beyond Fordlândia” (EUA-BRA, 2017, 75 min), do diretor estreante Marcos Colón, que volta a ser exibido no país depois de circular com sucesso por festivais no exterior. A sessão do filme acontece no dia 21, a partir das 20h30, no Cine Brasília.

A narrativa de “Beyond Fordlândia” transita entre a malfadada experiência do empresário norte-americano Henry Ford com as seringueiras no interior do Pará, no fim dos anos 1920, e a pujança do mercado contemporâneo liderado pela soja, investigando possíveis respostas para as agressões contra a floresta e seus agentes a longo prazo.

O professor e pesquisador da Universidade de Wisconsin-Madison, Colón, que não é cineasta e não conhecia a área do cinema, pesquisa a representação literária da Amazônia nas obras literárias do século XX. Sua tese de doutorado tem como foco o trabalho de Mário de Andrade observado pelo viés ecológico. Em uma nota de O Turista Aprendiz, o modernista fez breves comentários sobre a chegada do empreendimento de Henry Ford às margens do rio Tapajós, no Pará, por volta de 1928.

“Ao notar a passagem no Turista e pesquisar sobre Fordlândia, fui levado àquele lugar para saber o que tinha acontecido com a região após a ‘aventura amazônica’ de Henry Ford. O que encontrei foram memórias e o vazio de um projeto falido”, conta o diretor.

Da ciência para o cinema

Com o ímpeto que já lhe rendeu cinco prêmios e exibições nas instituições de pesquisa ambiental mais relevantes do mundo, Colón embarcou numa jornada de 18 meses para ver de perto o legado fordista na Amazônia. E descobriu que o passo de Ford, embora em falso, fora o motor para ideias semelhantes aplicadas ao mercado do agronegócio contemporâneo. A região de Belterra, no Pará, passa pelo mesmo processo: exploração dos recursos naturais, monocultura e pressão sobre as comunidades tradicionais, a floresta e as culturas já existentes.

Para além de sua pesquisa, Colón buscou as vozes de pesquisadores, artistas, escritores, quilombolas, agricultores familiares – as vozes da própria Amazônia – para construir a narrativa do filme. Para o professor da UFAM, Marcus Barros, o ponto de partida para os projetos é sempre a crença no objetivo.

“Ford julgou ser possível derrubar a mata, queimar e plantar seringueira. Ele disse ‘é possível derrubar e fazer outra coisa’. Mas o futuro mostrou, e Fordlândia está aí... no zero”, avalia o cientista.

Se Henry Ford fez possível a destruição de um milhão de hectares e iniciou o lento processo de agressão à floresta, o filme mostra que é possível acreditar em outros futuros para a Amazônia, e o reconhecimento pelo mundo reforça essa característica.

SOBRE O DIRETOR

Marcos Colón é americano de mãe brasileira, pesquisador do Instituto Nelson de Estudos Ambientais da Universidade de Wisconsin-Madison e professor do Departamento de Espanhol e Português da instituição. Pesquisa a representação da Amazônia nas obras literárias do século XX.

Serviço

o quê: Exibição de “Beyond Fordlândia” (Muito Além de Fordlândia) na mostra competitiva do Green Film Festival

quando: Dia 21 de março, às 20h30

onde: Cine Brasília (EQS 106/107 - Asa Sul – Brasília)

contato: press.beyondfordlandia@gmail.com

 

Documentário discute agronegócio e gestão de recursos hídricos na Amazônia

Selecionado para mostra no Fórum Mundial da Água, “Beyond Fordlândia” apresenta perspectivas sobre o futuro da região

O Brasil está na reta final dos preparativos para receber a oitava edição do Fórum Mundial da Água, que acontece em Brasília entre os dias 18 e 23 de março. Cerca de 7.500 participantes, oriundos de 150 países, já estão confirmados. O Green Film Festival é um dos destaques na programação do evento, e neste ano a mostra competitiva de longas-metragens recebe o documentário “Beyond Fordlândia” (EUA-BRA, 2017, 75 min), do diretor estreante Marcos Colón, que volta a ser exibido no País depois de circular com sucesso por festivais no exterior. A sessão do filme acontece no dia 21, a partir das 20h30, no Cine Brasília.

A narrativa de “Beyond Fordlândia” transita entre a malfadada experiência do empresário norte-americano Henry Ford com as seringueiras no interior do Pará, no fim dos anos 1920, e a pujança do mercado contemporâneo liderado pela soja, investigando possíveis respostas para as agressões contra a floresta e seus agentes a longo prazo.

Segundo o diretor Marcos Colón, o documentário discute os efeitos do agronegócio não apenas no campo hídrico, mas nas culturas, comunidades e na floresta amazônica. “Para mim, o filme tem a capacidade de comunicar, do ponto de vista ecológico e crítico, histórias das aventuras humanas na Amazônia. Consegue conectar o passado da borracha e dos primeiros experimentos com soja ao mercado líder do Brasil no agronegócio hoje. Essa capacidade é um resultado da interação das vozes que observam esses processos e apresentam suas interpretações durante o filme”, avalia Colón.

CONTEXTO CRÍTICO

Meses atrás, o Distrito Federal declarou estado de emergência, estados do Nordeste enfrentaram estiagens severas e as duas maiores capitais do Sudeste, São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro, enfrentaram em 2014 e 2015 a escassez hídrica na bacia do Rio Paraíba do Sul. Afinal, que tipo de debate precisa ser travado para garantir a implementação das políticas de recursos hídricos no País?

A questão torna-se ainda mais pertinente por conta da declaração do ministro da Agricultura, Blairo Maggi, sobre o agronegócio ser “a grande vocação do Brasil”. Isso porque a atividade é a maior consumidora de água e pressiona outros setores na sociedade brasileira.

Os riscos da pressão do agronegócio nas porções florestais do Pará somam-se a um quadro denunciado em pesquisas: os ciclos hidrológicos no Brasil continuarão sofrendo com o desmatamento. Estima-se, afinal, que a Amazônia contribua com cerca de 3,4 trilhões de m³ ao ano para outras regiões do País, de acordo com dados do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia. São os chamados “Rios Voadores”. Por isso, é preciso pensar a Amazônia para além de tudo que ela representa: como verdadeira peça-chave no ciclo hidrológico e na sobrevivência de todas as cidades brasileiras.

Beyond Fordlândia” se debruça sobre essas e outras questões. A estreia oficial do documentário aconteceu em novembro de 2017 no VII Festival Filmambiente, que organiza a atual mostra do Fórum Mundial da Água. O curto período entre a estreia da obra e a volta ao Brasil já rendeu prêmios e debates em instituições diversas.

Premiado, entre outros, no Festival Internacional de Cine Del Medio Ambiente (FICMA), em Barcelona, e exibido no Rachel Carson Center for Environmental and Society, em Munique, o filme traz as vozes de personagens locais para um debate que ainda precisa de repercussão.

Para a socióloga e presidente do Instituto Geográfico e Histórico do Amazonas, Marilene Corrêa, o filme de Marcos Cólon “redesenha a história de povos, territórios, biomas e ecossistemas atingidos por práticas predatórias contínuas do capitalismo”.

SOBRE O DIRETOR

Marcos Colón é americano de mãe brasileira, pesquisador do Instituto Nelson de Estudos Ambientais da Universidade de Wisconsin-Madison e professor do Departamento de Espanhol e Português da instituição. Pesquisa a representação da Amazônia nas obras literárias do século XX.

Serviço

o quê: Exibição de “Beyond Fordlândia” (Muito Além de Fordlândia) na mostra competitiva do Green Film Festival

quando: Dia 21 de março, às 20h30

onde: Cine Brasília (EQS 106/107 - Asa Sul – Brasília)

contato: press.beyondfordlandia@gmail.com

 

 

Beyond Fordlândia brings the Amazon to the center of discussions in Paris

The documentary Beyond Fordlânda premiered in the French capital on the 24th of January 2018. Invited by the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales - EHSS), director Marcos Colón, professor and scientist Marcus Barros and researcher and professor Marilene Corrêa went to Paris for a screening of the film followed by debate. 
The event, in the François-Furet Amphitheater (Anfiteatro François-Furet), served to widen the debate taking place at festivals and research institutions around the world.


“The premiere in Paris took place in an academic environment of the highest level, among a highly acclaimed group of researchers – the Think Tank on Contemporary Brazil (Grupo de Reflexão sobre o Brasil Contemporâneo)”, affirmed Marilene Corrêa, president of the Geographical and Historical Institute of the Amazon (Instituto Geográfico e Histórico do Amazonas). 


“Scientific criticism on the economic experiences of the Amazon – so well translated in the filmic language of the production – was another relevant aspect for the dialogue between the audience and the director of the film, and its interlocutors in the Amazon”, she added.


For Corrêa, the fact that the Parisian premiere occurred among a group of researchers accentuates the reach of the film through European and Brazilian Universities, as does the repercussion on Rádio France International, which transmits to various countries in 15 different languages.

Doctor Marcus Barros, who was the director of Ibama from 2003 to 2007, also highlighted the importance of the connection Colón makes between the predatory cycles of the Amazon.

“What the film exposes is the failure of development models that don’t take into account the environment and the lives of the peoples it affects. This is shown not only in Ford’s failed Project in the Amazon, but also in the aggressions of the extractivism and contraband of minerals and wood. The link between these enclaves showed, once again, that the Amazon cannot accept these projects any more”, summarised the scientist, who also remembered the importance of showing the film in institutions of research and learning.

Follow the screening schedule here.

Click aqui para a versão em português do post.

            Afrânio Garcia, Marilene Corrêa, Marcos Colón and Marcus Barros in the event in Paris

          Afrânio Garcia, Marilene Corrêa, Marcos Colón and Marcus Barros in the event in Paris

                     Marcus Barros, Marilene Corrêa and Marcos Colón in the event in Paris

                   Marcus Barros, Marilene Corrêa and Marcos Colón in the event in Paris

University of Innsbruck debates the impact of soy

Beyond Fordlândia was screened at the Center for Inter-American Studies (Centro de Estudos Interamericanos) of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, on the 12th December 2017. Invited by University professor, Martin Coy, director Marcos Colón talked about the importance of connecting places and experiences through film. 
“Although the theme portrayed in the film has a specific location – the Amazon, the issues and concerns discussed have universal coverage. The same aggressions against humans, the environment and the indigenous communities occur in other countries and continents ”, explained the director. 
Besides the repetition of the process around the world, Colón demonstrated preoccupation with the Brazilian context. 
“The form of intervention through which history repeats itself in the Amazonian social and cultural environment is tragic and peculiar: dispossessed, isolated and frequently ignored by public power, even with all its multiplicity”, he explained.

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Rachel Carson Center receives debate on the Amazon and Agribusiness

One of the most respected research institutions in the world, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society held a presentation of Beyond Fordlândia at Amerika House in Munich, Germany, on 11th December 2017. 

The round table debates on agribusiness in the Amazon and the historical evils of the rubber process was composed of the film's director, Marcos Colón, professor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kata Beilin, and professor from the University of Zurique, Antoine Acker. 

“It was a great event. The public demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm in relation to the film, with various requests for further screenings of the production. We were able to discuss the scenario of the film in the face of social, political and cultural issues”, related  professor Beilin, who researches interspecies resistance to genetically engineered soy in the Hispanic World.

Follow the screening schedule of Beyond Fordlândia here.

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Beyond Fordlândia Première no Espaço Itaú de Cinema (Rio de Janeiro)

Rio de Janeiro hosted the official debut of Beyond Fordlândia on November 14, after the successful production of several international film festivals and events in the states of Pará and Amazonas. The film was shown in a special session of the Filmambiente Festival.

More than 100 people attended the exhibition, which was followed by a debate with director Marcos Colón and the public health specialist Marcus Barros, who includes the cast of scientists, artists, teachers, journalists, researchers and representatives of traditional and indigenous communities of the movie. The conversation was mediated by the biologist and vice president of Conservation International of Brazil, Rodrigo Medeiros.

In addition to questions about the film and the production of the documentary, the debate served to bring to the southeast axis of Brazil the concern with the model of development arbitrarily imposed on diverse regions of the Amazon by the soybean industry.

“By the literature, I knew several projects for the Amazon. But I experienced one of them, which is the Free Zone of Manaus, as well as the Ford project reported by Marcos [Colón]. More than 500 companies that in a violent migration of labor that later will be discarded. And the people, marginalized. Brazil has not learned from the degradation coming from large projects It is the social degradation that leads to human and social ill health. Brazil has not learned that this is not the way to deal with the Amazon”, criticized Professor Marcus Barros.

The next destination of the film is Germany. At the Rachel Carson for Environment and Society, in Munich, director Marcos Colón will participate in a screening of the film with debate, to be held on December 11, with the participation of historian Antoine Acker of the University of Zurich and Professor Kata Beilin of the Department of Portuguese and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The discussion will be mediated by the director of Rachel Carson Center, Professor Christof Mauch. 

For more pictures of the event click here:

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BEYOND FORDLÂNDIA Première at the Geographic and Historical Institute of Amazonas (IGHA) in Manaus