Avatar may have been a science-fiction story, but many of its themes were based off of some of the world’s biggest real-life struggles. One such struggle is going on in the Amazon, where a large dam, the Belo Monte Dam, is threatening the environment and tribes living in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest.
Avatar-Like Battle in the Amazon, James Cameron Helping Out
Check out this trailer for a great-looking documentary by James Cameron (director of Avatar) and Amazon Watch on this real-world struggle in the Amazon, A Message from Pandora.
Writing on this issue about a month ago, here are more details via Amazon Watch:
Timed with the re-release of Avatar in theatres today, highly acclaimed director James Cameron has teamed up with Amazon Watch to produce a short feature “A Message from Pandora.” The documentary spotlights the battle to stop the massive Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, which thousands of local Indigenous people have vowed to resist, citing its potentially devastating impact on their communities and the rainforest environment. A three-minute trailer of the feature was launched today on the Avatar movie website, inviting Avatar fans to join the campaign to stop the Belo Monte dam and defend the rainforest. The full version of “A Message from Pandora” will be available on the Avatar Special Edition DVD due out this fall.
James Cameron became inspired by the story after he and cast members of Avatar including Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore traveled to the Xingu River in April accompanied by Amazon Watch and the Brazilian environmental organization Instituto Socioambiental. During their trip, the delegation visited Indigenous and river bank communities who would be adversely affected by the Belo Monte Dam Complex. The $17 billion project would divert the flow of the Xingu River; its reservoirs would flood 668 square kilometers, displace more than 20,000 people and generate methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Seeing the parallels between Avatar and the battles taking place viscerally in the tributaries of the Amazon, Cameron made a commitment to support the campaign led by local populations along the Xingu River to protect their sacred rainforest homeland and their way of life.
Reflecting on his visit to the Xingu River, Cameron commented: “Here were people whose lives were going to be altered irrevocably, whose communities were going to be destroyed, literally put under water, or affected negatively as the river’s flow would change. For these people, it’s the end of their world, as they know it. And they’re reacting accordingly. They are there with their spears and their bows and arrows, saying that they will fight… We made a commitment to do what we could to help, to raise consciousness about this issue.”
Sigourney Weaver notes that the Belo Monte Dam would be “a disaster for the Xingu River, for the rainforest and certainly for all the indigenous people and families living along the river. Their way of life will disappear.” Weaver is also lending her support in defense of the Amazon and its people by collaborating with Amazon Watch, International Rivers, and Brazilian organizations on a state of the art digital animation to illustrate the devastating impacts of the dam – to be released next week.
“The Avatar spotlight comes at a critical time for the battle to stop the Belo Monte Dam. Just yesterday, the Brazilian government signed the contract to build the dam, ignoring warnings about the project’s serious ecological, financial and technical risks. We inviteAvatar fans in Brazil and around the world to stand with the people of the Amazon and persuade Brazilian authorities to opt for greener and less damaging energy alternatives,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.
Even though the Brazilian government is moving ahead with the project, opposition to dam construction continues to grow in Brazil. Earlier this month, communities directly affected by the dam project declared their unwavering resistance to the Belo Monte dam and the Brazilian government’s shortsighted plans to build more than 60 large dams in the Brazilian Amazon.
Sigourney Weaver Narrates Google Earth Animation on Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam
Related to the topic above, film star Sigourney Weaver of Avatar recently narrated a 10-minute Google Earth 3-D tour (video below) of the this controversial proposed damn in the Amazon Rainforest. In support of Brazil’s Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre (Xingu River Forever Alive Movement), “Defending the Rivers of the Amazon,” this tour does a great job of showing viewers the numerous harmful effects this damn would have on a pristine area of our world.
Photo Credit: screenshot of first video above