Marcos Colón has used documentary film to engage significant questions about surviving the consequences of capitalist development, the impact on the earth, and indigenous peoples.
Colón recently released a deep inquiry into the effects of savage development in the Amazon. Stepping Softly on the Earth (2022, 75 min) begins with a voice reminding viewers, "We exist only because the earth allows us to live. She gives us life. Nothing else gives life. That is why we call her "Mother Earth."
As reported by Amazonian Latitude, "With accounts from Ailton Krenak, Katia Silene Akrãtikatêjê, and other leaders, the production follows stories from the Amazon that aim to delay the end of the world. Filmed on location in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, the documentary…provides an answer for a possible future for humanity, with an alternative far from destruction and based on the ancestral life of native populations."
As reported by Amazonian Latitude, Stepping Softly on the Earth "focuses its narrative on three Indigenous leaders who are survivors of the capitalist war in the Amazon, and who struggle to keep alive their ways of being and coexisting in the world without destroying it…With accounts from Ailton Krenak, Katia Silene Akrãtikatêjê, and other leaders, the production follows stories from the Amazon that aim to delay the end of the world. Filmed on location in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, the documentary…provides an answer for a possible future for humanity, with an alternative far from destruction and based on the ancestral life of native populations. the documentary also features the music of the renowned artist and former Minister of Culture of Brazil, Gilberto Gil, who sings knowledge of the forest, a valuable and vital environment for the survival of the planet, one that contains the answer to the crises caused and faced by humanity."
The trailer is available in English and Portuguese here.
Colon's first documentary,Beyond Fordlândia(2017, 75 min), is an "environmental account of Henry Ford's Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage…."
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, by historian Greg Grandin, was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. A stunning history of rapacious greed, American arrogance and ignorance, and capitalist extraction written in gripping prose that, as Robin Kelley might say, "sings."
Grandin writes, "Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained."
Colón explains the film's back story that began as part of his graduate studies, "Beyond Fordlândia uses both historic and contemporary images to document the ecological, social and political impact left by Henry Ford on the Brazilian Amazon, which now, ninety years later, is paving the way from jungle to the industrial scale production of soybeans."
Check out the trailer here.