Where have all the swallows gone?
An award-winning film released on the Internet portrays how climate change is threatening the Amazon and the people of the forest
Located in Brazil’s mid-western state of Mato Grosso, the Xingu Indigenous Park was created in 1961. It is an important example of the cultural and environmental diversity of the Amazon region: in total, 6,500 individuals from 16 indigenous peoples live there. With their traditional ways of life and land management traditions, these groups have ensured the preservation of the forest and local biodiversity. However, the area surrounding the Park lies in stark contrast.
42 per cent of the forest has been converted primarily into fields for soybean, corn or pasture. The last 30 years have seen widespread environmental destruction outside the Park, and the consequences on the climate, animals and agriculture are evident. The film “Where have all the swallows gone?”, produced in a partnership between ISA and the Catitu Institute, is a sensitive and powerful portrait of how the people that inhabit the Xingu Indigenous Park face the impacts of climate change.
Directed by Mari Correa, the film was screened for the first time in Paris, during the Climate Change Conference (COP-21), in December 2015. Since then, it has garnered awards in international festivals. Now it is available online, and everyone can understand the concerns of the people of Xingu — who are unsure about the kind of world future generations will inherit.
“‘Where have all the swallows gone?’” is beautiful, sad and necessary. The tone of the film makes the reality even more devastating, as it should.” (Fernando Meirelles, filmmaker, director of “City of God” and “Blindness”)
According to reports from the elders of different ethnic groups that live in the Park, the swallows that used to fly in flocks to announce the beginning of the rainy season can no longer be seen. The butterflies, which visited the villages, signaling the drying of the river, have disappeared. It was different in the past, they say. But the rising heat, lack of rain, deforestation around the Park, and even the construction of dams, are pointed to as causes of these changes. Previously restricted to the fields, the fire now spreads easily, affecting large areas of the Park. This requires the indigenous people to mobilize and use new techniques and equipment to control it.
The intense heat is also killing the fruits and foods that are part of the culinary tradition of the Xingu peoples. Concerned, they believe that they will go hungry in the future, because the crops they plant will not withstand the changes. And they fear that future generations will have to depend on food from the white man for survival.
We now invite you to watch the film and help us spread the word!