Since the 1960s the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has been a controversial and heated issue. Prior to this decade, the Amazon had been strictly regulated and well-protected. The desire of farmers to clear some of the forest and use the rich and fertile soil for growing crops led to the slashing and burning of the Amazon’s flora. This ongoing process has lead to decades upon decades of deforestation, which has globally resulted in the increase of greenhouse gases and has eventually caused the phenonmenon known as global warming or climate change.

In addition to these environmental problems, the drive of farmers and ranchers to further deforest the Amazon has affected the indigenous people who continue to live in the forest. And that is the main focus of the new National Geographic documentary titled The Territory. Producer/director Alex Pritz and his crew immerse themselves in the forest and follow the lives of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people who are native to the Brazilian rainforest and have subsisted there for centuries. Pritz examines the continuing struggle of these humble and peaceful people whose only desires are to keep their home, and maintain their ways of living.

The director and his crew not only offer their audiences the perspective of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, they also present the lives and struggles of the farmers who wish to acquire more land in the forest for their way of life. While some of these folks seem to have legitimate and honorable objectives, there are those who are willing take violent and underhanded measures to steal the land from the native inhabitants. The documentary also addresses the current political climate of Brazil and how the nation’s leader, President Jair Bolsonaro, and his new controversial policies could begin putting the final nails into the coffins of the rainforest and the people who live there.

Filmmaker Alex Pritz deserves much praise and acclaim for his fascinating and moving documentary film. While the global problems associated with deforestation should be well-known, Pritz’s aim is to present the different people most affected by this issue. On one side, the indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau have taken an active, but mostly peaceful, stance to defend their homeland, on the other are the ambitious farmers who believe that they have a right to settle and farm a territory that they believe currently belongs to no one. Pritz and his crew do exceptional work in presenting the facts from both sides without showing a strong bias to either.

The gorgeous cinematography by Alex Pritz and Tangãi Uru-eu-wau-wau work their magic in immersing the audience in a very real setting and intimately captures the people, flora, and fauna in so many beautiful ways. I am so happy that I was able to experience this extraordinary film in a theater, on the big screen, because the cinematography lends itself well to the theater setting. The film is getting a limited theatrical release, beginning on August 19. I highly recommend seeking it out, as it serves as a wake-up call/reminder of the impact of deforestation, and how this issue’s continuing conflict has divided the people of Brazil. In Austin, Texas, The Territory will play at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar and the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline. In others cities, consult your local listings for availability and showtimes.

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