Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative talks with award winning Brazilian screenwriter, director, and movie producer Estevão Ciavatta on contrasting visions for development in the Amazon, land grabbing, and the role he hopes his film, Amazonia Undercover, can play in highlighting these stress and environmental damage in Brazil.
This discussion has been modified and condensed from its original version.
Beto Borges: Thank you, Estêvão, for making the time to speak with us. Your movie, Amazonia Undercover, just recently won the 2021 Environmental Impact Award from One World Media. How was the concept for Amazonia Undercover born?
Estêvão Ciavatta: In 2004, I did a specific Amazon season for Um Pé de Quê? (What Tree Is It?), [the TELEVISION program I was making at the time] We did ten episodes, each about a different tree. Because I took a trip through all the states of the Amazon and found out the scale of forest damage, I believe this was really crucial for me. And after I believed, “I have to do something about the Amazon, about its importance to Brazil.”
Early 2014, a pal of mine called me, stated, “Look, I have a project to make an Amazon TELEVISION series. I believe that you are the ideal man to do this.” So I stated, “Okay, lets do it.” Back to the Amazon. One of the goals of the series is to document land getting in Brazil. I was not seeing anyone else working on the scale of public vulnerable forest in Brazil. The numbers vary from 60 to 90 million hectares, a huge part of the Amazon forest that is still unprotected due to the fact that making use of the land is not specified [and protected] These are not native areas, not conservation systems, so they are available for land grabbing. And land getting itself was and is accountable for a great part of logging in the Amazon.
And the second thing I felt was aggravation at how simple it is to be distracted from this concern. Even though the program was presented on Sunday, primetime, and 50 to 60 million people saw it, the series regrettably came out at the exact same time as a corruption scandal in Brazil. All the important things that we raised were eclipsed by this other issue in the news at the time. I got a little bit annoyed with the results and I felt the land grabbers were taking advantage of this minute. Thats why I chose to make the movie Amazon Undercover, utilizing the series material and continuing the shootings for the following 5 years.
And this was not the case a year or 2 earlier. And now we see the three major banks in Brazil executing financial restrictions over company in the location, and one of their rules is to not fund land grabbing.
Beto Borges: So you assisted raise the concern of land getting to a public phase. Its excellent to hear how work like yours can start to make a distinction, even if its just a couple of hearts and minds at a time.
This raises an important question for me: What kind of development is right for the Amazon? What is being proposed now, and what do we think it should appear like so that it is as equitable as possible and decreases environmental effect?
Estêvão Ciavatta: The thing is, we could fix excellent parts of the issue with land tenure legislation that already exists however is not being utilized. The legalization of smaller landholders or properties and honoring native claims and rights, for instance. Political leaders in the Brazilian Congress want to expand the benefits of land period legislation to land grabbers. This is not appropriate.
What we do not have in place are public policies that guide land usage preparation and sustainable advancement for the cities in the Amazon. Nearly 80% of the Amazons population lives in the cities, which have the most poverty and least expensive health and wellbeing of Brazil.
Beto Borges: My understanding is that your film also documents how indigenous peoples are affected by land grabbing and other activities in the Amazon. Could you inform us more about what youve seen?
Estêvão Ciavatta: I saw the crash of two worlds. One concept of advancement of the Amazon region took us to nearly 1 million square kilometers deforested in 45 years. And the majority of people have actually not benefited much from that– there is a lot of hardship in cities near deforested areas.
And they not just do not damage the forest, but help the forest be what it is today. They are protecting the forest, safeguarding Brazil.
There is a vicious and unsustainable cycle in the Amazon. [Vulnerable people] have to utilize forest resources since they do not have work. And they dont have work since we do not have a strategy. Lets make one. Lets strengthen familial farming. Lets empower these neighborhoods to produce their own products, something with excellent value so they can deal within the international or the national market. Lets work with the forest, not ruin it.
Estêvão Ciavatta is a screenwriter, movie, and director producer renowned for the award payouts documentaries NELSON SARGENTO and AMAZÔNIA SOCIEDADE ANÔNIMA (Amazonia Undercover). He has directed dozens of television shows, including the award winning BRASIL LEGAL and CENTRAL DA PERIFERIA, both for TV GLOBO. For HBO, he created, directed, and produced the series PREAMAR, main selection FIPA (Biarritz, France), and SANTOS DUMONT, released in 70 countries around the globe. Ciavatta is also founding partner of Pindorama Filmes, the very first Brazilian carbon neutral company in the cinema/TV industry and a reference in environmental and social issues. Ciavatta led the crowdfunding project “Dá Pé,” among the 10 biggest in Brazil, that activated 7 million people to plant 36,000 trees.Enjoyed reading this post? Share it with your network!Viewpoints showcases expert analysis and commentary from the Forest Trends group.
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I believe this was very important for me since I took a trip through all the states of the Amazon and discovered the scale of forest destruction. And land getting itself was and is accountable for an excellent part of logging in the Amazon.
Thats why I chose to make the film Amazon Undercover, utilizing the series material and continuing the shootings for the following 5 years.
What we dont have in place are public policies that assist land use preparation and sustainable advancement for the cities in the Amazon. Practically 80% of the Amazons population lives in the cities, which have the most poverty and lowest health and wellbeing of Brazil.