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Return from Extinction

Return from Extinction

This film tells the remarkable recent history of the hiding Panara tribe, who are descended from a large tribe known in the 18th century as the Southern Kayapo. They were attacked so often by the Portuguese that they were believed to have become extinct. But they fled into the deepest part of the forest, and killed all strangers on sight.

With extraordinary footage in the 1960s, we watch as Claudio Villas Boas, and his team from Brazil's Indian Protection Service, make the first patient attempts to contact the Panara before a planned development road exposes them to 'civilization'. Then, in spite of Claudio's efforts, we are witnesses in the 1970s as the tribe is virtually wiped out by diseases contracted when two huge roads opened up their lands to an influx of rubber tappers and gold diggers. With the aid of his brother Orlando, Claudio Villas Boas manages to fly 79 survivors out to the Xingu National Park.

Now twenty years later, the Brazilian government has recognized the legitimacy of the Panara's claim to a half million hectare block of their ancestral homeland, and they are going back home.

'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

'An extraordinary achievement.' The Geographical

'The most successful of the three (programs), both in presenting the story of the people of the Panara tribe...and in placing it in historical, cultural and political perspective. It is highly recommended for classroom use in discussions of the current state of indigenous peoples, human rights, and globalization -- particularly in anthropology courses.' Alan Duben, Human Ecology


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, Keith Miller, 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


Panara,; Amazon,; hiding tribes,; rainforests,; Brazil,; cultural; anthropology, Claudio Villas Boas, Orlando Villas Boas, Indian Protecton Service; ; "Return from Extinction"; Bullfrog Films

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