The Winds Blows the Border, Brazil, 2022
By: Dr. Claus Mueller
THE WINDS BLOWS THE BORDER, a Brazilian documentary which received the International Feature Documentary Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs 2022 was directed by Laura Faerman and Marina Weis and produced by Julio Matos. It presented both sides of the long lasting struggle between the Guarani-Kaiowá people and the expanding agribusiness in a region bordering Paraguay that encompasses 10,00 hectares (24,700 acres). Produced in late 2022, before the defeat of former president Jair Bolsonaro and the election of Lula da Silva, the documentary captures the positions of the indigenous people defending their land and of the ‘ruralistas’, the wealthy landowners, and agribusiness operators.
What is at stake for the native people is the destruction of their land and communal life forcing resistance to the white groups claiming ownership of the land. On the other side are families claiming ownership of land they are occupying and expanding. From a legal perspective, the ownership issue has not been clarified. The native people invoke their sovereignty and constitutional rights. The landowners claim 123 privately held farms have already invaded. The landowners are represented by attorney Luana Ruiz who is allied with Bolsonaro and heiress to family land. Ruiz suggests that federal intervention is urgently required to restore order. Ruiz argues that the impunity of indigenous actions undermines the landowners, though landowners and the allied agribusiness dominate the judicial system in that region.
If the new president Lula can change the situation remains to be seen. His victory was by a slim margin and the wealthy landowners do not support him, nor the legislative assemblies which are dominated by supporters of the former president Bolsonaro. Interspersed sections in the film show wealthy landowners’ lifestyles and views, rituals of the native people and their demonstrations in cities faced with armed responses. The images and statements of a young girl recalling her grandfather’s observations and those who were killed in the struggle against settlers add emotional appeal to the documentary.