'Dream People of the Amazon' disputes indigenous stereotype
The film "Dream People of the Amazon" confronts any images of a backward people caught in the cross hairs of the modern world. Representative Achuar natives from southeastern Ecuador travel around their country in a small plane and connect remote villages with radio. They protest in big city marches. An Achuar native speaks eloquently at a climate-control conference in the Netherlands. He speaks with a painted face, but he speaks about CO2, biodiversity, local stewardship and global impact.
The story is big oil. The story is another multinational invasion and deal-making with a poor, debt-strapped country. The soul of the story, as housed in this documentary, is a transcendent strategy for survival.
Seeing the decimation and pollution when oil operations descended on the Amazon region north of them, the Achuar listened to the wisdom of ceremony-induced dreams. Form alliances with other warrior tribes, the dreams told them, to save the Achuar way of life. Their allies at this time in their history are environmental groups in Ecuador and around the world. Partner with the modern ways, the dreams told them, if there is to be any Achuar homeland and heritage to sustain.
This colorfully photographed and educational film compels you with a worrisome yet hopeful corner of worldwide struggle. It invites you into the tradition and adaptive reality of the Achuar people.
Filmmaker Larry Lansburgh lives in Nevada City. He'll complement the screening at the Nevada Theatre with a question-and-answer session. The film shows at the Nevada Theatre Sunday at 7:30 p.m. There will be special showings Monday through Thursday at Sierra Cinemas, Grass Valley.
In six trips to Achuar territory, Larry found them "without exception, to be extremely bright people."
He hopes that his film "can challenge our ideas of inflexible indigenous people stuck in the stone age." Larry probably hopes, as well, that his film can challenge us all not to be stuck in the oil age.