Documentary Review: ‘Tribes On The Edge’

Greetings again from the darkness. From certain angles, we see the striking resemblance to her grandfather, world renowned researcher, explorer, and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Celine Cousteau builds on her family legacy by documenting her journey to Brazil in an effort to provide exposure to the plight of indigenous communities in the rain forests along the Amazon … each tribe in a battle for survival. Ms. Cousteau also explains how this issue is crucial to the world, not just those grasping to the long traditions of jungle life.

We get to watch as her crew assembles and gets taken by boat deep into the Amazon region. In the process, we learn there are approximately 10,000 known indigenous people living in the area she visits, plus an estimated 2000 that have never had “outside” contact. These tribes go back many generations, and Cousteau educates us by taking us along on her mission to these communities. Most striking is the prevalence of malaria and hepatitis within the tribes, when neither disease existed in these communities for hundreds of years. She discusses the conspiracy theory that the government is systematically exterminating these people via “white medicine” in order to gain access to the protected land – land that is brimming with resources, especially oil, minerals, and fish.

The Cousteau team spends much of their time in the Rio Novo section of Vale do Javari which allows us to get a feel for how this tribe lives and the challenges they face. These challenges range from snake bites to lack of medical supplies, and of course the constant threats of political maneuverings. Cousteau also educates us about FUNAI and SESAI, two agencies charged with protecting indigenous people in the demarcated land areas. Neither seems capable of doing so.

A brief segment covers Sydney Possuelo, a Brazilian explorer and tireless activist for the protection of Brazil’s isolated indigenous people. Cousteau’s point is clear – these are the caretakers of the rain forest, and have been for many years. Their existence is threatened, and we should care because of the interconnection to all people. As the Amazon rain forests are destroyed, so is the oxygen and water that sustain us.

Premiers February 2, 2021 on VOD, including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube.

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