Directed by Denise Zmekhol

Film Synopsis

Children of the Amazon follows Brazilian filmmaker Denise Zmekhol as she travels a modern highway deep into the Amazon in search of the Indigenous Surui and Negarote children she photographed fifteen years ago. Part road movie, part time travel, her journey tells the story of what happened to life in the largest forest on Earth when a road was built straight through its heart. Zmekhol’s cinematic journey combines intimate interviews with her personal and poetic meditation on environmental devastation, resistance and renewal.

Active Cinema Participation

At MVFF 2008:

  • The film had its world premiere.
  • The film had two sold-out screenings, with Chief Almir Surui and other special guests in attendance.
  • The screenings were presented in association with the Rainforest Action Network.
  • The filmmaker took part in the Filmmakers Go to Schools program, showing the film to students in a local classroom.
  • The filmmaker took part in an Active Cinema Roundtable discussion with fellow filmmakers, funders, and activists about using film as a tool for change.
  • MVFF and Friends of the Urban Forest organized a tree-planting ceremony to honor both Chico Mendes (a central character in Children of the Amazon) and Wangari Maathai, the subject of the MVFF 2008 film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai. [insert tree planting photos]

Active Cinema Impact

  • The film went on to a long life on the film festival circuit and continues to screen around the world.
  • More people became connected with the issue through the screenings, panel discussion, and tree planting and paid greater attention because the film was given such a wide platform.
  • Screenings of the film were held in Spain and Brussels in partnership with the UN Information office.
  • Educational screenings were offered at universities around the country.
  • The San Francisco Film Society’s Education program helped to develop a study guide and presented screenings of the film for high school students.
  • In 2008, Zmekhol returned to the Amazon to film with the Surui tribe again in order to document its unique collaboration with Google Earth Outreach. The partnership, involved training the Surui people to use Internet technology to protect their forest, preserve their culture, and empower their people. The follow-up film, Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops, premiered at MVFF in 2009.

How to See the Film

To purchase the DVD for home or educational use:

For educational streaming:

For educational streaming, download, and support materials, visit PBS Learning Media:

How to Stay Active