Banking on Disaster
The grave consequences of building a road through the heart of Amazonia.
A unique and vitally important documentary about last century's worst environmental disaster-the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. Noted British documentarian Adrian Cowell spent a decade filming the opening up of Amazonia, the last great frontier. In this film he documents the disastrous consequences of paving a road through the heart of the world's largest rainforest in Brazil.
Directed by Adrian Cowell
Produced by Nomad Films
The road through the state of Rondonia was partly financed by the World Bank. It was paved to help hundreds of thousands of colonists from other areas of Brazil move into the region to farm, but the effects on the environment were catastrophic, and measures to protect the Indians were proven inadequate. Ironically, many of the settlers gained very little. Poor soil and poor planning have meant that many attempts to farm the decimated land failed.
The story is told in three chapters, the last of which deals with the late Chico Mendes, the leader of the rubber-tappers union, who was assassinated for his courageous efforts to halt the devastation of the rainforest and to create protected areas to be managed by local rubber-tapper communities. These "extractive reserves" have since been characterized by the World Bank as "the most promising alternative to unsustainable agriculture and cattle ranching."
The scope of the film is epic, and to U.S. audiences it has a special resonance. It provides us with an uncanny insight into how our western frontier was opened, while documenting a burgeoning human and environmental disaster in the Brazilian rainforest.
This program is an earlier, condensed version of The Decade of Destruction Series.
Other films produced by Adrian Cowell are The Last of the Hiding Tribes series, The Heroin Wars series and The Fires of the Amazon.
Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1988
Copyright Date: 1987
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-369-2
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-003-X
"Gentle, detailed, immensely thoughtful."
The Daily Telegraph
"Provides compelling evidence that our U.S. tax dollars are used to destroy the rainforest."
Randall Hayes, Rainforest Action Network
"A must for a wide range of college classes from political science and anthropology to environmental science and ecology."
"An exposé of the best kind... Recommended."
**** Video Rating Guide for Libraries
Awards and Festivals
Grand Prize, Medikinale International Parma
Best International Issues, American Film & Video Festival
Crystal Apple, Social Studies, National Educational Film & Video Festival
Golden Gate Award, Best Environmental Documentary, San Francisco International Film Festival
Best Educational Feature, 4th Annual TV Movie Awards
Best International Concerns, Vermont World Peace Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Climate Change/Global Warming
Forests and Rainforests
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... more Reviews
"Will interest all who are concerned with large-scale social change, the causes and effects of deforestation, and the tropical rainforest and its fate...it is extremely powerful, and I highly recommend it."
Science Books and Films
"An exposé of the best kind--responsible journalism... Recommended."
**** Video Rating Guide for Libraries
"This is an excellent film for environmental and/or development courses at any undergraduate level."
Gail R. Pool, Dept. of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick (Anthropology Review Database)