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The Last Forest (2021)—BrazilThe Last Forest (2021)—Brazil

For about a thousand years, long before Brazil was ever a nation, the forest-dwelling Yanomami people have lived in the Amazon rain forest. This 76-minute documentary introduces us to their way of life — hunting, foraging, weaving baskets and blankets, explaining their origin stories and cosmology, and shamans. There's no narration here, and little narrative structure, except for their dreaded encounter with the non-native white man. "Their products can put a spell on us," explains an elder. "They seem well-meaning," but these gold prospectors invaded their territory, dried up their rivers, and unleashed "the smoke of disease" (mercury poisoning). This film won prizes at the Berlin and Seoul festivals.  I watched it on Netflix. For a similar film, see First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon (2016), which tells how in June of 2014, four men from an "uncontacted tribe" in the Amazon rain forest emerged on a riverbank to make contact with outside civilization on the opposite bank.  The moment was caught in crude film footage that went viral on YouTube. The four men were from the Sapanauhau tribe.  Nine months after that first contact, the Brazilian anthropologist Carlos Meirelles made the eight day journey upstream to renew contact with the tribe, and make his film.

Dan Clendenin:

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