EIFF 2009: Birdwatchers

Film Review by Michael Lawson | 22 Jun 2009
  • Birdwatchers
Film title: Birdwatchers
Director: Marco Bechis
Starring: Claudio Santamaria, Alicélia Batista Cabreira, Chiara Caselli
Release date: TBC
Certificate: 15

Cowboys and Indians are two of the oldest film archetypes. As we all know, however, Hollywood's tendency to portray one as "good" and "the other" (appropriate expression) as the villains was both misguided and damaging, at least until Kevin Costner's Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves. Here, director Bechis focuses purely on the 'Indians', a family of Guarani-Kaiowá, the indiginous peoples of Brazil. Leaving their reservation after a double-suicide, the group make a new home on the burial land of their ancestors, but in doing so they incur the wrath of the wealthy landowner occupying that space. Bechis creates some remarkable, symbolic imagery and garners solid turns from his non-professional, local cast in a film fuelled by anger at the injustice his heroes face. It's just a shame the story never truly takes hold, with the characters amounting to little more than ciphers. Nonetheless, as an introduction to the Guarani, it's fascinating.

Showing as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009.