Documentary Takes Aim at Belo Monte Dam

There's a war of sorts underway in the Brazilian Amazon, and the stakes are high. On the one side are entrenched business and political interests dead-set on building a massively impactful hydroelectric dam, unmoved by the social, environmental, and cultural upheavals the project entails. On the other, a growing number of activists are working to raise awareness of what the project means for the nation's future and well-being of its most vulnerable citizens -- and though heavily out-funded and without easy access to media, they're finding a way to get the message out there. Filmaker André D’Elia is one such activist, and he's hoping his documentary Belo Monte - Announcement of a War will catch some much needed attention for his side.

Opposition to the Belo Monte dam stretches back to when the project was first proposed in the mid-1970's, though in recent years the government has been more forceful in seeing it materialize despite mounting international protest. Of chief concern among its detractors is the massive dam and resulting lake's 122 thousand acre footprint in the ecologically sensitive Amazon rainforest, and the fact that some 50 thousands mostly indigenous peoples will be displaced in the process.

To make matters worse, the government appears willing to forgo the functions of federal agencies to see the dam's plans through. Brazil's environmental protections agency IBAMA has been mired in controversy over the issue, which has led to the resignation of its leadership only to be replaced with individuals supportive of the dam. Meanwhile, Belo Monte protesters have faced difficulty in disseminating their message and inciting broader support among the voting public.

As a way of highlighting the dam's impacts and exposing the manner it which it is being planned, André D’Elia recorded over 120 hours of interviews and testimonials and compiled them into the documentary previewed above. Filmmakers are currently appealing to the public for donations to help fray the costs of finalizing the documentary and give it a wide theatrical release in Brazil.

To learn more about this film, check out the web site.

Tags: Brazil | Dams

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