“The Last Forest” (A Última Floresta): The Next Step Genocide? Toronto Hot Docs

The Yanomami indigenous people live in Northern Brazil and in Southern Venezuela. They have been there for at least 1,000 years which is 500 years longer that the nation states of Brazil and Venezuela.

The greed of gold, oil natural resources and hydro electric projects threatens the indigenous way of life. The processing of gold creates mercury waste which is dumped into rivers or sloppily contained by the gigantic corpotate gold mines in Peru or by the small timers in Brazil and Venezuela.

The Yanomami people were threatened by a horde of 45,000 prospectors in 1986 leading to the death of 1,500-1,800 indigenous people. Again in 1993 another wave of prospectors swept into Brazil including a massacre of 16 villagers despite the fact that Brazil recognized the land rights of the Yanomami in 1992. The backlash lead by Brazilian journalists and international advocates resulted in peace for 25 years. That is until the leader of the Brazilian government of Bolsanaro in 2109 supporting “development” allowed another influx of 20,000 prospectors to ravage forests, contaminate rivers with mercury and is attempting to legitimization of the prospector invasion. The Trump of Brazil leaving a legacy of the extinction of the Yanomami people and the Amazonia rainforest.

And the next step for the Yanomami people is death through environmental poisoning or a “dreaded resettlement”. Yes, I saw a documentary about the resettlement of indigenous peoples to make way for a gigantic Brazilian hydro-electric project. Indigenous people transferred to dangerous, drug infested, gang controlled camps so bad evangelists like buzzards flock to save souls or to convert heathens. See any similarities to the treatment of indigenous populations in North America!

Moving back from destiny we are treated in the documentary to an intimate look at the Yanomami people that might as well be a carbon copy of countless indigenous communities in North America. Steal and pillage and then move them to “reservations” or better said internment camps. History repeats itself so before you say how terrible Brazilians are they are not much different than our ancestors.

Aside from the inevitability of the destruction of the Yanomami perhaps the tenderness of the film is the view we have into the daily existence of these people and their hostility, at least amongst the elders and the shamans, toward the greedy “non-natives” who only dream of money and greed.

We are also treated to the Yanomami view of the creation of their people which is re-enacted in part and at times it is difficult to distinguish the tale from reality but it could be the story of creation is so inborn in their daily existence that reality and myth are difficult to distinguish.

We must mention the role of Davi, a Yanomami shaman, who has spearheaded resistance to “non- native” exploitation and as Maxima is symbol of local resistance to goldmines in Peru so is Davi for the Yanomami peoples.

In a beautiful sequence the shamans of a Yanomami village get completely “enlightened” through inhalation and snorting of some jungle herb in an attempt to fend off the demons.

Can they ward off the evil demons? Most likely not. Quite similar to the destruction of many indigenous communities in Canada through diseases and greed of the colonialists.

At best then a glimpse of a past that will be wiped out by the greed of the “non-natives”. Shameful as it may be we a looking at a documentary that will be playing in some museum in 20 years like some National Geographic Special.

The 2021 Brazilian documentary is directed by Brazilian Luiz Bolognesi and will be available virtually until May 9th as part of the Toronto Hot Docs Festival.

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.hotdocs.ca/

The documentary can only be accessed in Canada.

Unfortunately, history repeats itself.

You can see the trailer here https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-norton-ext_onb&ei=UTF-8&hsimp=yhs-ext_onb&hspart=norton&param1=b3eb0a94-1c71-4ea2-85e8-a9f995ce7608_2020-05-26_cr&param2=ds_direct_may20&param3=ngc_22.20.2.57_wk22_2020&param4=1000&source=direct&p=the+last+forest+documenraty&type=cr_ds_may20_wk22_2020#id=1&vid=a2fcfd84929ad2dcaca8783ef4be270c&action=click

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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