Directors Statement

The film that I’ve made is a journey: it is a literal journey down the greatest river in the world, the Amazon, and it is a journey into the life of the Cabloco; the mestizo people who populate the region of Northern Brazil known as Amazonas.

The Amazon rainforest has lured people for centuries to her secret wonders. The Missionaries came in search of lost souls, and when they returned to Europe with fantastic tales of wealth, the conquerors came in search of El Dorado. Scientists and naturalists still journey to the forest in search of Natures secrets, but it was the other tales the Missionaries told that took me there. Their accounts of life in the Amazon region told of hundreds of Indian tribes living along the banks of the river in villages that stretched unbroken for miles. But they also told of other creatures living further inland. They reported encounters with nations of fur-covered giants, dwarves, even one peculiar race of inhabitants whose feet grow backward.

BananasI went in search of fantastic stories. What I uncovered was a way of life rich in folklore and a musical tradition that imparts the passion and soul of the region. It is a land of dualities: a contemporary world with folkloric values of epic proportion all meant, it seems, to remind us that Nature plays a huge role in the survival of mankind.

One of the tales of the region tells of Tushawa, a great warrior Chief who is resurrected by the deafening cry of a great Anaconda when he becomes angered over the foolish devastation threatening to destroy the eco-system around the Island of Tupinambarana. Tushawa rose from his watery tomb to battle the forces of evil. He called upon the powers of all the great Warrior Chiefs before him, and yet, the demons bent on destruction advanced. But just as all hope seemed lost, Monan the Creator spoke to Tushawa and told him in order to secure victory over the demons, Tushawa would have to offer the people two bulls and a great celebration in the forest every year until the end of time.

Today, the archipelago around Tupinambarana is pristine, the gateway to eco-tourism in the Amazon. And at the end of June, for three days there is a huge celebration centered around two bulls named Garantido and Caprichoso. Amazonas takes us downriver in search of mythic creatures and uncovers them at the Festa do Folclorico where the tales are set to the rhythmic beat of Toadas, the music indigenous to the area, and brought to life on huge moving stages decorated with the colors and flora of the rainforest.

I believe El Dorado does exist in the Amazon, but is invisible to those blinded by visions of heavy metals and precious gems. It is in fact the life of the Amazon region, the ebb and flow of the river and the abundance of the forest. The people in the Amazon celebrate life with great passion because they know how valuable it is. The stories exist to remind us of this and to show us our place in the world.