Rio de Janeiro – The Green Party candidate for president of Brazil, environmentalist Marina Silva, is seeking the support of filmmaker James Cameron, winner of three Oscars for his film “Avatar,” in her bid for the executive office. The two might have the opportunity to meet one another, along with former Vice President Al Gore and biodiversity expert Thomas Lovejoy, at the International Forum on Sustainability, which will be held in the city of Manaus, capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, on March 27.
In her campaign, Silva is making use of the Internet to engage in dialogue with voters, particularly Brazilian youth, who are generally most receptive to environmental issues. In a recent blog entry, “Avatar and the Invader’s Syndrome,” Silva discusses what she found to be the personal and national significance of the film. Silva, former environment minister to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, compared the story of the Na’vi on Cameron’s Pandora to her upbringing in Acre, Brazil. Silva grew up in the Amazon rainforest, harvesting latex rubber from trees.
“While watching ‘Avatar,'” Silva writes on her Web site, “there was a moment in which I found myself reaching out and trying to touch the water that was gleaming on a glossy forest leaf, so fresh and beautiful. The Na’vi warrior was drinking from the leaf the same way I used to do as I walked through the forest where I grew up in Acre.”
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For Silva, “Avatar” symbolizes more than a confrontation between good and evil; it puts forth “an argument for beauty, for inventiveness, for the survival of ways of life that have the potential to shatter our contemporary hegemonic values … that regard slavery and the destruction of nature and its inhabitants as normal.”
Silva faces a long uphill climb in her David-vs.-Goliath battle for the presidency. She currently trails far behind [Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra] and Dilma Roussef, President Lula’s current chief of staff and favored candidate.
In her likely meeting with Cameron, Silva, who was illiterate until the age of 14, would like to tell the director that, for her, the moment in the film that really had her in tears was when Hometree was destroyed. The fall of this great tree “gave rise to a spirit of revolt.” Silva hopes that this spirit will inspire the youth to defend the planet and its rivers and forests. Silva believes that a passion to defend the environment is particularly vital in Brazil, a nation that possesses 25 percent of the world’s potable water and some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet.
Translation: Ryan Croken.
Ryan Croken is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Z Magazine and ReligionDispatches.org. He can be reached at [email protected].