Geoffrey O'Connor on a hilltop in the Amazon's Xingu Park in 1992 covering the demarcation of Kayapo lands as a stringer-producer for CBS News. Geoffrey supplemented his work as documentarian with news reports for "CBS Evening News" and numerous international broadcasters. He continues to work as a TV producer and documentary filmmaker in the United States. His work can be seen at www.copiouspictures.com or www.oconnorfilms.com.
Geoffrey on location with soundman Francisco Latorre, local shaman Marchadao Yanomami and Father Guillerme from the Catrimani Mission, an outpost of Catholic Missionaries. Marchadao, or "Big Ax" as he is known, is a spiritual leader from the village of Wakathautheri and the survivor of a malaria epidemic that killed off his mother and father and wiped out most of the inhabitants of his village.
A NOTE FROM THE FILMMAKER
Every film is a collaborative effort. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. That certainly was the case for me on the four films I made in the Brazilian Amazon. I began working in Brazil in 1987 at the end of that country's 25-year military dictatorship. It was a difficult and dangerous time, but I was lucky. I had the good fortune to work with an array of talented colleagues in Brazil whose contributions to my films helped me to safely navigate a difficult, complex and, at times, treacherous terrain .
My greatest debt of gratitude goes to Patricia Monte-Mor and Jose Ignacio Parente, the founders of Interior Productions in Rio de Janeiro and two people whose wise council and patience allowed me to navigate the tricky cultural and political terrain of a post-military, dictatorship in Brazil. It was a time when Latin America's largest country was taking tenuous steps toward democracy.
The Brazilian filmmaker Vincente Carelli (Video in the Villages) was a frequent collaborator in the field and someone whose experience in Amazonia I relied on heavily to navigate the often complex "middle ground" of contact between indigenous societies and Western European populations. The anthropologists Terry Turner, Bruce Albert, Alcida Ramos, Dominque Gallois, Eric Wolf, and David Maybury-Lewis either gave me introductions to various communities in Amazonia or provided a conceptual framework to understand these often misunderstood cultures. I relied heavily on their theoretical writings to not only understand the communities I was dealing with but to shape the narratives of the documentaries I was making. In the field individuals like Father Ricardo Rezende, Davi Kopenawa, Marchadao Yanomami, Raoni, and Chief Wai-Wai Waiapi were not just incredible collaborators, but generous hosts who let me into their lives and trusted me to tell their stories.
In the United States Chris Caris, my coproducer, was invaluable in making certain these films made it through to completion. And Miranda Smith Productions partnered with us in the productions of all our films. Without any of those mentioned about, these films would not have seen the light of day and to all of them I extend my deep appreciation. I am very indebted to the Ford Foundation, which provided critical funding for the film "Amazon Journal," but for the book of the same title.