The struggles of indigenous peoples are not new ones, but rarely specific to just one region. It starts with a group of people who have arrived first in their territory and have chosen to live off their land in simplicity. Along comes “progress” to either assimilate or crush these peoples. In Sabrina McCormick and Soopum Sohn’s Sequestrada, corporate progress is hoping to absorb the Arara people into Brazilian society with promises of housing, schools, and hospitals with all the Western conveniences. The film calls these bureaucrats, waving the banners of a good life, a simple word…”liars.”
Sequestrada intertwines the stories of three players with a stake in assimilating indigenous peoples. First is a young teen named Kamodjara (Kamodjara Xipaia de Ferreira). She lives with her people, the Arara, on a reservation along the Amazon. Their land is threatened with the construction of a dam on the river that will serve as a power plant for the Brazilian people. The dam will have adverse or beneficial effects on the river, depending on the side of the issue you’re on.
“Their land is threatened with the construction of a dam on the river…”
Roberto (Marcelo Olinto) works for the indigenous agency in Brazil. He is a bureaucrat supposedly in the “service” of the underserved, and his task is to research the effects of the dams and make a recommendation to the government as to how to proceed.
Thomas (Tim Blake Nelson) works for an American corporation investing billions in the dam projects in Brazil—totaling over 140 dams. He is to visit these people living along the river, make nice, and convince them that the dam project is a good thing and that they should accept the government’s generous offer of relocation.