Birdwatchers (image 1)

As... geographical realism, absorbed in the physical and human details of specific place, the film downright revelatory.

A.O. Scott, NY Times

Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Birdwatchers 2008

La terra degli uomini rossi

Directed by Marco Bechis

The perilous status of the indigenous Guaranis of Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul is revealed to the world in this vividly pictorial environmental/land rights thriller. “Brilliant and subtle.” — Herald Tribune

Brazil / Italy In Guaraní and Portuguese with English subtitles
108 minutes 35mm / CinemaScope



Amedo Pagani
Marco Bechis
Fabiano Gullane
Caio Gullane


Marco Bechis
Luiz Bolognesi
Lara Fremder


Hélcio Alemão Nagamine


Jacopo Quadri


Domenico Zipoli
Andrea Guerra


Pedro Abrísio da Silva
Alicélia Batista Cabreira
Ademilson Concianza Verga
Ambrósio Vilhava
Claudio Santamaria
Matheus Nachtergaele
Fabiane Pereira da Silva
Chiara Caselli


Venice 2008; Rotterdam, New Directors/New Films 2009


The perilous status of the indigenous Guaranis of Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul is revealed to the world in this vividly pictorial environmental/land rights thriller. Italo-Chilean director Marco Bechis worked for five years on the film and with the Guaranis themselves who make up its cast. It's as tourists, or birdwatchers, sailing up the river through the jungle that we suddenly come face-to-face with the Indians, naked apart from their paint, their weapons at the ready. The film's tourists sail on excitedly – and we follow the Indians who put on their jeans and collect their wages from the white landowner who operates the tours. The arrangement is however a tense one and we watch as the increasingly alienated Guaranis leave their allocated reservation to reclaim their ancestral land, deforested though it has been. The escalating bitter struggle is played out with a lucid, matter-of-fact appreciation of the complex spiritual values at stake. — BG

“The film is particularly effective in capturing the uneasy fascination and rumbling antipathy between two vastly different cultures forced to live side by side... The film bears certain similarities with Ten Canoes, the fable set in an Australian indigenous community directed by Rolf De Heer. Both films are underscored by an earthy humour; both have a refreshingly prosaic approach to the mystical... Like Ten Canoes, the strength of the storytelling and the rich character detail mean that Birdwatchers is unlikely to be dismissed as an ethnographic curiosity. But while Ten Canoes had a timeless, mythic quality, Birdwatchers' contemporary setting gives it an added urgency.” — Wendy Ide, The Times