Featured Documentary

Akuntsu 2004 - 56 min.

Synopsis:

The Akuntsu are a small tribe indigenous to Rondonia, a stunning expanse of land located in the northwestern region of Brazil. This territory, once lush with rain forest, is now a shell of its former self thanks to widespread deforestation efforts, and the scattered tribes that populate the region have largely been uprooted or massacred in the process. The Akuntsu, a people which at one time numbered in the thousands, have now dwindled to just six remaining members.

These natives are all but powerless to stop incursions upon their homeland from outside interests; they are isolated, voiceless and in peril of complete extinction. These endangered tribespeople have been captured on film in the powerfully dramatic documentary Akuntsu. Patient and unobtrusive, the filmmakers observe the potential end of a civilization, unique customs never before witnessed by outsiders, and a noble fight to survive with dignity in the face of corporate greed.

Cattle ranching and soybean farming are the two primary industries that pose the greatest threat to the Akuntsu's way of life. As the film illustrates, this clashing of vastly opposing cultures is not a new phenomenon. Industrialists began to invade the region four decades ago when their construction of a new highway constituted the beginnings of native endangerment and ecological unbalance.

In the years since, investigations conducted by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) have uncovered irrefutable evidence that many Indian tribespeople in the region were massacred by gunmen under the employ of the encroaching cattle ranch industry. These invasions have also taken a more insidious toll on the Akuntsu and other tribes as well by making them more susceptible to disease.

Aided by FUNAI, these few remaining natives are struggling valiantly to maintain their foothold in the region, but the tides of industrialized "progress" continue to serve as a daily threat. The jungle they regard as their sanctuary has all but disappeared, and the sustainability of their entire culture might soon be nothing but a distant memory.