At the beginning of this millennium, most of the human race consisted of tribes of hunters and nomads. At its close, there are only a handful of uncontacted tribes left - a poignant reminder of how rich and varied our species once was, and how that diversity is being steadily eroded by the onslaught of new communications technologies relentlessly transforming us all into a 'social monoculture.'
This is the thesis that underpins Adrian Cowell's remarkable new trilogy of films set in the Brazilian Amazon. Cowell - one of this century's great documentary story-tellers - goes back to the Amazon to trace the history of three tribes on the edge of extinction: the Panara, the Uru Eu Wau Wau and the Ava-Canoeiro, descendants of runaway slaves from the once feared Carijo tribe.
But these are far more than ethnographic films. By focusing on the human dramas of the individuals caught up in the great race to bring 'civilization' to the Amazon, Cowell brings home the momentous nature of the change that has, and still is, transforming this last, great unexplored frontier land.
The titles in the series are:
Return from Extinction - The Panara return to their ancestral forest home.
The Fate of the Kidnapper - The cycle of revenge following first contact with the Uru Eu Wau Wau.
Fragments of a People - Frantic efforts to find the Ava-Canoeiro before their land is flooded for a new dam.
Note: The three films can be viewed separately or as a series.
Other films produced by Adrian Cowell are The Decade of Destruction series, Banking on Disaster and The Heroin Wars series.
Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1999
Copyright Date: 1999
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-691-8
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-793-X
"Documentaries do not come better than this."
The (London) Times
"Adrian Cowell's trilogy was 30 years in the making and it's been worth the wait...the denouement plays out like Jacobean tragedy and...is no less gripping."
"A powerful documentary series about the Amazonian Indians, may prove to be one of the last records of their way of life."
(London) Independent on Sunday
"The films are about contact and about the destruction and absorption of weaker peoples by more powerful ones, a story perhaps as old as humankind...They focus on the accounts of particular individuals, native and European Brazilian and present us with an extraordinary opportunity to get to know the indigenous people and the drama of their lives in a very personal way....(T)hey are particularly successful in avoiding demonizing the penetrators and their society or of playing on the emotions of the viewer with nostalgia about a soon-to-be-lost native way of life. 'The Last of the Hiding Tribes' are very pragmatic, very human films."
Alan Duben, Human Ecology