No Meio do Rio Entre as Árvores (Within the River Among the Trees) creatively document the values and way of life of these communities in a world where everything is quickly modernizing, and a land that has been exploited for economic exploration. Jorge Bodanzky, director of hundreds of documentaries and other films such as Iracema, Uma Transa Amazônica, O Terceiro Milênio, and Igreja dos Oprimi, magically captures the richness of Ayuca community, located within the Amazon Basin. Among the 16.4 million acres of protected rainforest, there are 35 communities attempting to preserve their way of life, people, and their richness of their culture.
The most valuable aspects of the documentary was the intimate way it captured a community. The film was documented in a way different from most documentaries; instead of the film being narrated or guided by captions, the indigenous people of the Amazon guided the documentary. At the beginning for the film, the cinematographer expressed his purpose there, stating that he had sincere motives and simply wants to capture whatever the community wants to express. Brainstorming for ideas, a reoccurring theme in the community was their value of connectedness, unity, and community. Captured was a beautiful and unseen way of life; bathing in the river, children playing together, mothers helping each other, men fishing together.
It was expressed that the community’s source of income was primarily making and selling flour, only using a very small portion for their own needs. Despite being protected by laws, the audience witnesses the struggle for the indigenous people to keep out teams of fishermen and people taking advantage of their natural resources. The indigenous repeatedly mentioned how the laws protecting the indigenous and the land are loosely enforced. Repeatedly, the need for education is expressed. The indigenous understand that prosperity will be found in educating their children, so that they can intelligently defend and support the rest of the community. Unfortunately, higher education must be sought out in the city, and children pursuing academia must leave their homes, some of which end up simply settling with the rest of society and do not return. Expenses for studying in the city are relatively high in comparison to the very little money the indigenous make. Regardless, the Maya descendants understand that education is the only way to salvage their way of life.
Ultimately, the film entailed what the indigenous people of the Amazon wanted to showcase. Some of the documentary was actually footage taken by curious adolescents exploring the functions of the camera, or a elderly woman zooming into the stirring of the flour. The essence of the film brilliantly showcases the innocent culture and way of life of some of the most isolated communities the world has to offer.
Watch the trailer for No Meio do Rio Entre as Árvores below:
This film was reviewed at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Cine Las Americas is a multi-cultural, 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin Texas. The mission of Cine Las Americas is to promote cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining and challenging diverse audiences through film and media arts.