When Two Worlds Collide isn’t your run-of-the-mill documentary and you certainly can’t take it half-heartedly as it explores almost every aspect of the modern world in relation to what many may simply call progress. On one side it’s an investigation and example of political mistrust and those taking advantage of their positions. If you turn it over though it’s a basic reflection of humanity and what follows when people who truly believe in their heritage, history and culture want to defend its continuing existence.
The quote [above] that opens Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel’s documentary is important because it underlies everything. While we have Peruvian President Alan Garcia actively trying to take his country forward into the 21st century, he wants to achieve this goal by selling off their indigenous Amazonian land for investment into oil production and extraction of minerals and gas. The other side of this story is that of Alberto Pizango, a man who’s grown up on the land and as an indigenous leader has rallied his supporters into protecting his home-land against the destructive plans of Garcia.
It isn’t all about the past versus the future because although Garcia may be selling theprogress through politics, the truth is that he’s only helping to destroy natural habitats in both the rivers and woodland. We see on camera the effects of crude oil on plant life as it’s ripped through the forests to leave nothing but black on what once was green. In words of Pizango, the indigenous people call it ‘savage development’ and that’s exactly what it is.
While Alberto Pizango makes plans to rally his fellow people and connected communities, Garcia continues with his plans to sell off the land to American investment. It’s clear that money and hopeful benefits outweighs the thought for people on the land. Pizango makes and takes the case to the government that while selling may help Peru in the future, it doesn’t mean long-term success if it’s all drained of its natural resources, which we all know to be true.
The fallout comes next and is due to big mistakes made at the top. While protests are peaceful and respectful of each other on both sides, the President lies about his intentions and it isn’t before the natives begin to be demonised as out of touch and aggressive when the truth is they’re not at all, they just want to make a fair deal that works for everyone. While President Garcia continues to push the line that the few cannot control the masses, they decide to send Police into the places where they’re protesting to seize back control. Before we know it, and by pure circumstance, things get rapidly out of control and we’re hit with real footage of devastating bloodshed, alongside fear and death on every side involved. It’s disturbing to watch but must be seen. The lack of decision by the government has meant its own people are killing each other. In the words of a TV presenter in retrospect “It was like dropping a lit match on gasoline”.
Abundant questions are raised throughout that includes the government’s claim that the indigenous people are of the old ways, but who decides what constitutes the old and the new? Spears can be said to be old and out of date but communities still believe in the Earth and the life it lends to us. Our modern life full of material items and the ability to step back is considered modern but the truth is… why do we feel we have the right to say how people should live? The saddening deaths are also another look at guns and how I feel they never bring anything except death, remorse and deep sadness.
When Two Worlds Collide is a powerful reminder that if politics isn’t balanced and fair to the people across different ways of life, then there can be very few positive outcomes for anybody. Realistically a world of peace and perfection isn’t possible but there’s surely a way to work together so everyone benefits but in this case those vital decisions were made far too late. People lost their lives because of what they believed in but worse still it wasn’t something the people of a land did without cause, it was forced upon on them by people in power not taking responsibility and not considering the reality of what was happening. It’s heart-breaking, powerful, unforgettable and absolutely essential.
Reviewed by Dan Bullock, September 2016.
When Two Worlds Collide opens in select UK cinemas this Friday 9th September. Visit the official website and take action by clicking here.