The Screening Room Blog
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
More on press conferences: 'BirdWatchers'

VENICE, Italy -- Now, choking up at a press conference is nothing new (look at Hillary Clinton) but there was something pretty touching about "BirdWatchers" actress Eliane Juca Da Silva's (right) tears.

"It makes me cry to know that so many children are dying, that so many of us are dying ... We are all human beings, we are not just Indians, we have thoughts and ideas and culture and our language, we just want a possibility to continue to live," the emotional Amazon Indian actress told a packed room.

She was talking about the plight of the Guarani-Kaiowa Indians in the lush lands of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil where director and co-writer Marco Bechis has set "BirdWatchers." Bechis has spent years working with the Amazonian people to prepare for the film and some of the actors in the film are Indians.
The film is set against the backdrop of the Indians' growing malcontent. They are forced to live in reservations while fazenderos own plantations growing crops on what was once their land. The Indians feel they have no future and young people are particularly badly affected, which has led to an epidemic of suicides.
From the start of the festival, there has been a buzz on the Lido that "BirdWatchers" could be a Golden Lion contender and, since screenings started a few days ago, it has been getting positive reviews.
Bechis has already had a prize though -- the chance to bring the Gurani Indian actors to Venice for the festival. "They've never been to Europe, been on the beach or eaten ice-cream before," he told CNN in an interview.

-- From CNN's Mairi Mackay

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