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Disappearing World
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1.

Embera [electronic resource]: The End of the Road

At first sight, the peaceful Embera people of Colombia live what seems an idyllic life. Four centuries ago, the Spaniards went to Colombia for gold - and found that the Indians wouldn't work for them. In the clashes that followed, many Embera were massacred, and the invaders were forced to import slaves from Africa. Those former slaves, or libres, remain poor and largely without rights themselves, yet they have pushed the Embera into the remote jungle headwaters - while, as if to seal their fate, the Colombian government drives the last section of the Pan-American highway straight across the territory. The Embera tell how they want both legal rights over the land they now inhabit and protection from the physical attacks of the libres with whom they trade. This film shows them in thei [...]
Online
1971
2.

The Quechua [electronic resource]: Disappearing World

The Quechua live in an isolated part of Peru where, unlike the Mehinacu hundreds of miles to the east, they desperately want a road to link them with civilization and all its benefits - such as tourist trade. Although their religion is mainly Christian, this sometimes conflicts with some of the old pagan beliefs which they still retain - and despite those who advocate social change, there are also those who wish to preserve their traditional way of life. The highlight of the film is the Qoyllur Rit'i festival, held 17,000 feet up in the Andes on Mount Ausangate - at the sanctuary of the most powerful of the south Andean mountain spirits, the Apus. Missionaries had incorporated this age-old shrine of the tribes into the Catholic region. Here, the Quechua pray for help - and in 1974 th [...]
Online
1974
3.

The War of the Gods [electronic resource]

This film contrasts the belief systems and ways of life of the Maku and Barasana Colombian Indians with those of the Protestant and Catholic missionaries who, in competing to convert the Indians to Christianity, threaten to consume their ancient culture. The Protestants, North American Fundamentalists from the Summer Institute of Linguistics, are said to have used their organization as a cover in order to be allowed to work with the Indians, because open Protestant missionary activity would not have been acceptable to the authorities.
Online
1974
4.

Umbanda [electronic resource]: Disappearing World

This film looks at a powerful new religious movement gaining favor in the multiracial cities of Brazil. Umbanda combines elements from orthodox Catholicism with submerged African and indigenous Indian spiritual beliefs - as in dramatic trances, people believe themselves seized by the spirits of old plantation slaves, Amazon Indians, children, and mermaids. In spite of past attempts at suppression, Umbanda flourishes in the heterogeneous culture of contemporary urban Brazil. To reveal the eclectic repertoire of Umbanda, this film offers lengthy coverage of ritual performances, including interviews with mediums and their clients, which emphasize the role the movement plays in the management of personal malaise and affliction experienced as a by-product of change and urbanization.
Online
1977
5.

The Last of the Cuiva [electronic resource]

This is the story of the last 600 of the dying Cuiva tribe in southeastern Colombia, for the most part still living a Stone Age existence as naked hunters and gatherers. The film focuses on changes in their culture and society, brought about through contact with Colombian settlers. We see two contrasting groups of Cuiva: The first is relatively isolated and lives the traditional nomadic life, as the men hunt and fish and the women gather. The second group has been drawn into the Colombian economy, working occasionally for the ranchers in order to earn money and buy trade goods. The Cuiva seem to be living the present-day role of the North American Indians of 150 years ago: driven off their hunting grounds by the cowboys, massacred if they insist on fighting for their homes.
Online
1970
6.

A Clearing in the Jungle [electronic resource]

The Panare Indians live in the jungles of the northern Amazon. With homes only 300 miles from Caracas, Venezuela, they have seen cars and jet aircraft, yet their lives continue as if they were part of the Stone Age - as they resist outsiders and opt for the traditional way of life they have always known. This film focuses on their daily activities, such as preparing cassava, making blow darts, and hunting and gathering. As the Panare resent even the presence of the Granada TV crew, the film's producer captures their ethos when noting, "They grew tobacco, but just enough for their own needs. The government tried to persuade them to work longer hours to produce more, and have offered to pay them, but they are just not interested.
Online
1970
7.

The Mehinacu [electronic resource]

This classic film documents the lives of the Mehinacu near the headwaters of the Xingu River in central Brazil. For them the pequi tree is all-important, and the film shows the many rituals connected with the tree and its fruit. These rituals reveal the ambivalent feelings between the men and women of this small tribe, reflected also in the sexual division of labor; and the sexual implications of the rituals are made clear in the story of how the pequi tree originated. In one captivating scene, an elder tells of the origin myth of the sacred flutes, which is part of the complex Mehinacu belief system that would be lost if the tribe cannot survive under the pressures of the outside world. In 1974, the Mehinacu themselves feel their way of life is doomed - threatened by a road that is [...]
Online
1974