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The Fate of the Kidnapper

The Fate of the Kidnapper

In 1979 the Brazilian government gave Chico Prestes a plot of land in the state of Rondonia, in the Western Amazon, in an area regularly hunted by the unknown Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe. One day Chico returned from the forest to find two of his sons dying, riddled with arrows, and the youngest, seven-year-old Fabio, apparently taken off by the Indians.

This was the start of an 18-year quest by the Prestes family to find out what happened to little Fabio - a quest that caught the imagination of Brazil, highlighting the Amazon as a battleground between Indians and invading colonists. The quest also uncovered the prior murder and kidnap of Uru Eu Wau Wau tribespeople, but the real tragedy is not the cycle of revenge, but the onset of disease and deforestation which will end the hiding tribes' way of life for ever.

'Seems to sum up the entire tragedy of one culture wiping out unfolds with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, or a Western perhaps, even providing an ironic twist at the end.' (London) Daily Telegraph

'The kind of 19th Century adventure that you had to keep amazedly reminding yourself was taking place in the space age.' (London) Daily Telegraph

'Mysterious, disturbing, yet utterly amazing...While global political-economics drive the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest, this documentary articulates the tragedy of families who have been destroyed as ruthlessly as the jungle itself.' Timothy McGettigan, Prof., Sociology, Wake Forest University

'A remarkable story, remarkably told.' (London) Observer

'Documentaries do not come better than this.' The (London) Times

'Adrian Cowell's trilogy was 30 years in the making and it's been worth the wait...the denouement plays out like Jacobean tragedy no less gripping.' Time Out

'A powerful documentary series about the Amazonian Indians, may prove to be one of the last records of their way of life.' (London) Independent on Sunday

'The films are about contact and about the destruction and absorption of weaker peoples by more powerful ones, a story perhaps as old as humankind...They focus on the accounts of particular individuals, native and European Brazilian and present us with an extraordinary opportunity to get to know the indigenous people and the drama of their lives in a very personal way....(T)hey are particularly successful in avoiding demonizing the penetrators and their society or of playing on the emotions of the viewer with nostalgia about a soon-to-be-lost native way of life. 'The Last of the Hiding Tribes' are very pragmatic, very human films.' Alan Duben, Human Ecology

'An extraordinary achievement.' The Geographical

'Skillful editing and masterful interweaving of current and past events keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.' Pamela M. Rose, Health Sciences Library, University at Buffalo (Anthropology Review Database)


Main credits

Cowell, Adrian (film director)
Cowell, Adrian (commentator)
Rios, Vicente (film producer)
Rios, Vicente (director of photography)

Other credits

Cameraman, Vincent Rios; film editors, Terry Twigg, Andrew Mason, Caleb Menges; music arranged by Marlui Miranda.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Developing World
Forests and Rainforests
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
Latin American Studies
Social Justice


Uru Eu Wau Wau, Amazon, rainforest, tribe, murder, Brazil, Chico Prestes, Fabio Prestes, Rondonia; "The Fate of the Kidnapper"; Bullfrog Films

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