James Cameron Fights to Stop Amazon River Dam

September 08, 2010
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James Cameron is returning to Brazil to film a 3D movie highlighting the plight of the indigenous people who will be uprooted by the construction of a dam on the Amazon river.

The director has been fighting to ban the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant from being built on the Xingu River, an Amazon tributary, but his protests failed to keep President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from approving plans last week.

Now Cameron is planning to show his support for the local tribes by shooting a movie about their lives.

In an interview published in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Cameron says, "I want to return to meet some of the leaders of the Xikrin-Kayapo tribe who invited me. I want to take a 3D camera to film how they live, their culture."

Opponents claim up to 16,000 people will be displaced by the project because it will cause flooding along the banks.

The focus is the huge Belo Monte dam planned by the Brazilian government. It would be the third largest in the world, and environmentalists say it would flood hundreds of square miles of the Amazon and dry up a 60-mile stretch of the Xingu River, devastating the indigenous communities that live along it. For years the project was on the shelf, but the government now plans to hold an April 20 auction to award contracts for its construction.

Stopping the dam has become a fresh personal crusade for the director, who came here as indigenous leaders from 13 tribes held a special council to discuss their last-ditch options. It was Mr. Cameron’s first visit to the Amazon, he said, even though he based the fictional planet in “Avatar” on Amazon rain forests. Still, he found the real-life similarities to the themes in his movie undeniable.

Read Tribes of Amazon Find an Ally Out of ‘Avatar’ from NYTimes.

Read Real 'Avatar' begins as Cameron returns to the Amazon from Mother Nature Network.