top of page



Shown in competition at the 2008 Venice Film Festival

In Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, the farming classes lead a wealthy and leisurely existence. Owning vast swaths of agricultural land, covered with GM (genetically modified) crops, they spend their nights entertaining tourists who have come to the area on bird watching holidays.

Meanwhile, the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowà  people live an uneasy existence on the fringes of the farmers land. Treated as another curiosity by the bird watchers they are forced to live on enclosed reserves.
Employment prospects are bleak with little option than to work as semi-slaves on sugar beet plantations. It is a situation that drives many young people to suicide.

One such suicide begins to stir up a rebellion within the local Guarani-Kaiowà  community. Led by Nadio and the local shaman the group set up an encampment on the border of a farming estate in a bid to regain the land on which their forefathers are buried. Thus the two opposing worlds are forced to face each other, clashing both ideologically as well as physically. However, both sides are also fascinated and curious about 'the other'. This curiosity begins to flower into relationships, best exemplified by the deep bonds that develop between the young shaman apprentice Osvaldo, and the farmer's daughter Maria.




Bechis works with indigenous people and transforms them into actors [...]. And the result is compelling. The film is visually spellbinding. The simple dialogue, pared down to the bone, reflects the essence of the two cultures.
Gigi Riva, L'Espresso

The film is a powerful punch in the stomach [...] A true story. Harsh. Cutting no corners.
Gian Antonio Stella, Corriere della Sera

His cinema is consistent, solid, never sitting on the fence or blandly commercial - but impeccable in its style and direction.
Maurizio G. De Bonis, CultFrame

Marco Bechis is very good. His film is deeply felt, it never puts a foot wrong, and is touching.
Adriano Sofri, La Repubblica

I asked myself what lay at the heart of the issue, and one of the possible answers was this: the Argentine army, having perpetrated in 1910 its last massacre of the indigenous population (in other words, having totally exterminated it) and never having been tried for it - and no reappraisal of those facts ever having taken place - may in the 1970s simply have re-read this core experience, and may have seen its young Argentine opponents as “natives”, aliens who must also be exterminated.
Marco Bechis, excerpt from Birdwatchers "Making of"

In a make-shift projection room I showed them two sequences with almost no dialogue (The Birds by Hitchcock; Once Upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone) [...] what I was mainly after was silences. I warned them, explaining that they were the protagonists of the film but that the supporting actors were professionals who knew very well how to use those silences in a scene and knew very well how to take their time before replying. In front of Leone's and Hitchcock's images they immediately saw what I meant.
Marco Bechis, excerpt from Birdwatchers "Making of"

Very good [...] evocative, surprising, vivid and well constructed.
Nick James, THE OBSERVER (Venice Film Festival 2008)

The best film in the competition was "Birdwatchers" from Marco Bechis, whose background is both European and South American. A drama about a small Brazilian tribe trying to reclaim their ancestral land but rubbing against landowners and their prejudices, it explores rather than parades its liberal agenda, raises questions in an arresting fashion and offers strong performances. If only there was more of the same.
Dave Calhoun, Time Out

A film that gets under your skin.
ZDF Heute Journal

A serious contender for the Golden Lion has emerged [...] This technically impressive tale didn't disappoint.

bottom of page