By: Adrienne Vaught
In this gritty drama we see and feel the slam of modern socially accepted rules into ancient indigenous cultures. First we meet a twenty first century cultural anthropologist and her young son in the forests of South America. The mother son duo struggles to understand one another while forming bonds with a dying tribe whom they meet and live with for a time. Next we meet a grandmother raising her granddaughter who is just coming of an age to be considered marriageable (twelve) struggling just to survive and keep their ancient ways alive.
While relationships form and lives begin to intertwine the forest weaves its magic.
This film is as beautiful to the eyes as it is confusing to the mind and heart. A story expertly draws you into the personal dilemmas each character faces, while constantly challenging a person’s own views. Views I thought indomitable and unchangeable were challenged just by turning off the paved road.
These characters seem to live on in the mind long after the film has finished. What right does a modern cultured people have to interfere in an ancient civilization that is just trying to survive? Should it survive with the views it holds? Many truths are told here about human nature inside an ever evolving and globalized world. The answer still eludes.
Thought provoking, emotionally complex the film has a completely stand-alone character in the forest. The forest as the magical and immortal witness to all the comings and goings of everyone and everything. The provider of all needs that will still be there long after you, I and they have all gone.
The story brings to light the very real tradition of the child bride and the price young girls pay. The cultures that are struggling to survive. This film begs these questions of all who watch. Where do you stand? What if anything is to be done?
The film may be fictional but the dilemma is all too real. Now that your eyes have seen and your ears have heard can you still pretend not to know as we drive away and turn back on to the paved road?
Defenders of Life 1h 34min
Director: Dana Ziyasheva