”The Territory” with Alex Pritz


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Not yet 19 years old, a young man named Bitaté Uru-eu-wau-wau is approached by an elder, who tells him, ready or not, it is time for Bitaté to become his community’s new leader. With Brazil’s election of a right-wing president on the horizon, bands of illegal settlers clearing forests, and the impending disaster of climate change, how in the world can Bitaté take on such a staggering responsibility? But he knows he must: the fate of not only his own small Indigenous community but of the entire Brazilian Amazon hangs in the balance. With the stakes constantly rising, first-time feature director Alex Pritz (“My Dear Kyrgyzstan”) brilliantly depicts the opposing forces at play in his urgent and stunningly beautiful documentary “The Territory” from National Geographic Documentary Films.

Joining Ken to talk about the chain of events that led him to the Uru people and their threatened way of life, Alex discusses the close collaboration with the Uru community that made the documentary possible and gave shape to what it would become. How was Alex’s relationship with the environmental activist Neidinha Bandeira a significant first step in developing trust with the Uru? What was the crucial suggestion from Bitaté and Neidinha that led to the film’s impressively even-handed inclusion of opposing points of view? And in what ways were the composer Katya Mihailova’s contributions critical to establishing the locations and building deep connections with the different people featured in the film? Depicting the highs and lows of the Uru people, “The Territory” is an unflinching look at the Amazon today and offers a cautionary glimpse of what may lie just ahead.

“The Territory” can be seen in select theaters nationwide.

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