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1.

Forbidden Wedding

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Hedir Antonio de Brito, a paraplegic from the age of fifteen, wanted simply to marry Elzimar Serafim, who was the love of his life. He had sent out wedding invitations and applied for a marriage certificate from the Roman Catholic Church. But forty days before the wedding, Hedir got an unexpected letter from the Catholic Church of Patrocinio, Brazil. His marriage application was denied on the grounds that as a paraplegic he could not copulate. This decision was based on the Vatican's Canon Law 1084. The filmmaker talked to the couple, their families, the local priests as well as people in their small Brazilian town. Many were afraid to speak their minds in the shadow of the Catholic Church, but they eventually expressed their outrage at a situation that put love and faith on opposite [...]
Online
2002
2.

At the Edge of Conquest: The Journey of Chief Wai-Wai

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At the Edge of Conquest looks at the situation of the Waiapi Indians, a small, isolated tribe that came in contact with the outside world in the late 1970 s. Today they are threatened by invading gold miners, by the Brazilian government s recent proposal to reduce their land by 10%, and the state government s plan to construct a highway directly through their territory. But their strategy for survival has been effective: defend their lands from invasions while their leaders navigate the tricky waters of Brazilian politics. The film focuses on the charismatic leader, Chief Wai-Wai, as he travels from his remote village to Brazil s capitol, encountering for the first time airplanes, elevators, and skyscrapers. But the real barriers are not physical but bureaucratic and cultural. He doe [...]
Online
1992
3.

Contact: The Yanomami Indians of Brazil

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This documentary, shot in one of the most remote corners of the Brazilian Amazon, graphically depicts the devastating impact of contact with the outside world on an isolated indigenous tribe, the Yanomami Indians. They are considered to be the last major Stone Age people in the Amazon. Since 1987, as the result of the incursion of Brazilian gold miners, an estimated fifteen percent of the Yanomami Indians have died from malaria and related diseases to which they have little resistance. Further, the mining operations have polluted rivers and scared away game animals thereby destroying the Yanomami s traditional ecosystem. Although the Brazilian government is ostensibly trying to protect the Indians, such efforts are undermined by the fact that their mineral-rich ancestral land is cove [...]
Online
1991
4.

Defying Death in Brazil

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This gripping documentary is a portrait of one of the unsung heroes of the Brazilian Amazon. Father Ricardo Rezende's work defending the poor has so enraged cattle ranchers in the region that there have been several attempts against his life over the past two decades. In 1992 Father Rezende received the first annual "Chico Mendes Award." This in-depth profile explores the convictions of this dedicated priest while analyzing the larger questions of land conflicts and human rights abuses in the southern part of the state of Para, an area where slavery, land evictions and political murders have become a way of life. Clandestine sequences, shot at great risk, reveal the desperate feudal conditions faced by millions of landless peasants. This startling documentary provides a vivid depicti [...]
Online
1994
5.

Donkey Without a Tail

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Trash collecting may sound dismal, but in this film, shot in Rio de Janeiro, the people featured are undaunted, and proud of their survival skills. They make their living picking through trash in search of recyclable material and are popularly known as donkeys without a tail. This occupation traces its roots to the job of garrafeiro, or "bottle collector." Portuguese immigrants to Brazil made their living pushing wooden carts down the street to collect bottles (thus their nickname bears the allusion to pack animals.) The early immigrants sold only bottles and other containers that could be re-used. Today trash collectors work with a wide variety of materials; plastics, glass, iron, copper, paper, and cardboard. By following the daily route of five of these energetic collectors we com [...]
Online
2006
6.

Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route

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The waters of the Atlantic brought the slaves from Africa to Brazil, their bodies in chains but their souls inexorably tied to mother Africa. This Brazilian- made film takes us to both shores, to show how spiritual life, dance and song came with the captive people and took root in the new soil. Among the many traditions were the language and gods of Yoruba and Jejes from the Republic of Benin. When a group of freed slaves returned to Africa to rediscover their roots they were looked upon as outsiders. They became tradespeople - tailors, accountants and builders- and they actually brought Portuguese culture to Africa. Today, when Brazilians revisit Africa, they teach the Africans the culture that these descendants of slaves keep alive in Brazil. The documentary is a testimony to some [...]
Online
2001
7.

Coffee: A Sackful of Power

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Coffee ranks second only to oil as the most important raw material on the world market. It has shaped the economies, history and social structure of a large part of Latin America. Composed of archival photographs, old newsreels and penetrating interviews, this documentary takes a broad view of the influence of coffee through the ages. First introduced in the eighteenth century, coffee is now the most popular drink in the world after water. South America supplies 66% of the world production, although most of the profits go to traders and speculators outside the region. The film explains the difference between the Brazilian and Costa Rican system of production, and why the Brazilian system has led to such poverty. Mechanization of farms has thrown many rural laborers out of work, an ex [...]
Online
1999
8.

Mini Cine Tupy

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This delightful short is for film lovers everywhere. Jose Zagati is a trash gatherer on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. To his wife's dismay, he is obsessed with creating and running a fully functioning film theater from recycled objects. The seats, projector and the very films themselves come from discarded objects. He has turned his modest garage into a gathering place for the children of the village who experience the joy of cinema (and popcorn) free of charge. This short film shows how one man s obsession with cinema has taken over his life, while at the same time it bring pleasure to a whole community.
Online
2006
9.

Samba! Reflections of Africa in Brazilian Culture

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This lively film goes behind the scenes of the samba and carnival world in Rio de Janeiro to reveal how the cultural clash of the African/Black and European/White cultures gave birth to a new tradition. The historian Haroldo Costa, an expert in carioca folklore, explains how African slaves beliefs, gods and music mixed with Spanish Catholic and Indian influences centuries ago to create the remarkable fusion that is Brazilian culture. The historian Haroldo Costa, an expert in carioca folklore, explains how African slaves beliefs, gods and music mixed with Spanish Catholic centuries ago to create the remarkable fusion that is Brazilian culture. The film includes interviews with many active performers and writers of samba such as the composer and singer Xango da Mangueira. He recalls th [...]
Online
2007
10.

Amazon Journal

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Geoffrey O'Connor, the filmmaker of Contact and At The Edge of Conquest has produced this fascinating chronicle of recent political events in the Brazilian Amazon. Beginning with the assassination of Chico Mendes in 1988 and ending with a return trip to Yanomami Territory in 1995, this six year journey provides an illuminating perspective on the volatile changes of this era. Besides documenting events, O'Connor analyzes the complex interaction between semi-isolated indigenous societies and "outsiders." In collaboration with Brazilian anthropologist Alcida Ramos, he explores the return of the "noble savage phenomena", wherein outsiders created misleading illusions about Indian societies. This cultural confusion explains many of the region s tragic events. This insightful look at the A [...]
Online
1995
11.

Odô Yá!: Life With AIDS

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This is the affirming story of how Candomble, a Brazilian religion of African origin, has become a source of strength and power for a group of AIDS sufferers. Shot in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia, it shows the rituals of Candomble and the celebration of Carnival. It features the personal struggles and words of wisdom from those whose faith have brought endurance and pride. Rather than denying the sexuality of this African-descendant population, innovative education programs have been developed for its followers. Where other religions preach abstinence, Candomble advocates the use of condoms so that sexuality need not be repressed. This beautifully shot documentary puts the epidemic in a cultural context, showing how this joyful religion helps its followers cope with the illnes [...]
Online
1999
12.

On the Street (Olho DA Rua)

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Street life in Rio de Janeiro is astoundingly varied. There are more ways to earn a living than any North American can imagine. In this colorful film, Sergio Bloch, who has a special affinity for recording the pulse of urban life in his native Brazil, presents a variety of performers, vendors and special artisans. The film begins with a knife grinder, who not only sharpens tools, but plays Happy Birthday on his grinding wheel to attract customers. There is an animal trainer whose dogs perform tricks, a street photographer who really wanted to be a student, a herbalist who forages within city limits for plants that bring the Amazon to a city square. Some of the physical stunts are amazing: a one-legged soccer acrobat, jugglers who have 50 seconds at traffic lights for their acts. Thes [...]
Online
2006