DIR. HEIDE BRANDENBERG, MATHEW ORZEL | PERU | 2016 | 103 MINUTES
Peru is a country ideologically wedged between prudent modern ambition and the preservation of ancient cultural practice. At its heart lies the Amazon Rainforest, one of the planet’s most marvelous natural wonders, its land, rich in valuable natural resources. In 2007, opportunistic and eager to make his mark on the world stage, Peruvian President Alan Garcia invited foreign companies to do business with the country by partnering on the extraction of oil, minerals and gases. When prospecting revealed that many of these resources were located beneath ‘protected’ sites, the state callously auctioned off vast stretches of land, condemning the Indigenous inhabitants in the process.
A fierce and gripping documentary that pulls no punches, When Two Worlds Collide follows the fallout of Garcia’s decision. The film centres on community leader Alberto Pizango who, backed by a collective of passionate Indigenous activists, issues an impassioned plea to stop the extraction of oil, minerals and gas from the previously untouched Amazonian land. Demanding the government not merely revise but entirely repeal these laws, passed without their consent, Garcia’s government responds by mobilising the national police force, and igniting one of the largest and most violent protests in the country’s history.
At once brazenly partisan yet simultaneously wide-ranging, filmmakers Brandenburg and Orzel audaciously interview key figures from both sides. News reports and visceral third-party footage of the violent clashes are also dynamically spliced together, taking us directly into the firing line of this environmental and politically charged conflict. Building a sense of apocalyptic rage which is sustained throughout, the wider human impacts of the government’s policies are also explored by profiling the families of those killed during the struggle. When Two Worlds Collide remains steadfastly humanistic as its impressive narrative, temporal and geographic sprawl unfurls. The film is an acerbic ode to the overwhelming imbalance in power between those acting to conserve their natural environment and those determined to monetise it.
Winner: Special Jury Award for Best First Feature – Sundance 2016
Winner: Jury Prize – DocumentaMadrid 2016