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The Reverse of Heaven

Entirely filmed in the Javarí Reserve, in the extreme west of Amazonia, on the triple border of Brazil, Peru and Colombia, the work has as its theme the reversal of individual faith in religion, documenting the conversion currently practiced in an abusive way by the neo-Pentecostal churches even with the last non-contacted indigenous people present in this region and its severe consequences for the environment.

The process is ancient and has been repeated for centuries. Religious missions arrive, already financed by extractivism, succeeding each other in cycles... of rubber, gold, minerals, noble wood from the forest, wild fishing and hunting. Always going up, against the flow of the river, and thus entering the Amazon, destabilizing the natural balance of the region and reducing or sometimes even exterminating the modus vivendi and culture of the indigenous people, the first inhabitants of these lands.

Faith is a power of each individual to relate to their existence, but religion emerges as a colonizing element of this faith, manifesting itself as a new territory and a new collective identity. The cataclysm that we see with the arrival of the missionaries is just the beginning of the loss of identity and the transformation of the indigenous culture into a new Christian context, unhealthy and miserable, which in fact borders madness.

  • Mauricio & Walter Dias & Riedweg
  • Mauricio & Walter Dias & Riedweg
  • Mauricio & Walter Dias & Riedweg
    Pro Helvetia // Foundation Art and Initiatives
  • Ticuna People
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    38 minutes 14 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Dobra Festival Internacional de Cinema Experimental
    Rio de Janeiro
    September 30, 2023
    Acervo Cinemateca do MAM Rio de Janeiro
  • Centro Cultural São Paulo
    October 6, 2023
  • Montreal Independent Film Festival
    North American Premiere
    Official selection
  • VideoEx
    May 28, 2024
    Swiss Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Atelier Dias & Riedweg
    Country: Brazil
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Mauricio & Walter Dias & Riedweg

Dias & Riedweg have worked together since 1993 to make collaborative and interdisciplinary public art projects, videos and performances. The duo consisting of Mauricio de Mello Dias (born in 1964, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Walter Stephan Riedweg (born in 1955, Luzern, Switzerland) both live and work in Rio de Janeiro.
In their work Dias & Riedweg explore issues of social politics and subjectivity using experimental practices that connect the centre with the margins of urban society. They have realised art projects and exhibitions worldwide and participated in several biennials, including: São Paulo (1998 and 2002), Istanbul (1998), Venice (1999), Havanna (2003), Gwangju (2006), as well as Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007). They had major solo exhibitions at MACBA - Museu d’art contemporani Barcelona, at Kiasma, Helsinki and Le Plateau, Paris. Recent projects include solo exhibitions at Kunsthal Nikolaj Copenhagen, at Americas Society, New York and a retrospective show at the Museum of Art Lucerne, in Switzerland. Their work is in important art collections such as the Museum of National Art Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museo National de Arte Contemporâneo Reina Sofia, Madrid and The Museums of Modern Art of Houston, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

THE REVERSE OF HEAVEN was conceived by Swiss-Brazilian artist duo Dias & Riedweg and later integrated by Brazilian photographer and indigenist Zaida Siqueira and Uruguayan, based-in-Zurich, multi-media artist Juan Ferrari.

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Director Statement

The “Word of God” spread like a plague by neo-Pentecostals nowadays, not only “opens paths and moves mountains”, but also eradicates original forms of life and cultures of indigenous people who live in the Amazonian forest.

The strategy is still the same of centuries ago: churches receive funds of private and predatory interests to launch evangelization missions among indigenous and, thus, start the commercial exploitation of the territory, through illegal extraction of wood, minerals, fauna, fisheries and flora of regions officially demarcated as preserved indigenous reserve.

“The Reverse of Heaven” focuses on the Javari Reserve, a triple-border region between Brazil, Peru and Colombia, in the extreme west of the Amazonian Forest, where the last-contacted and non-contacted indigenous people are.

The film navigates along the remote Javari River - it departs from a traditional ritual of initiation among a Txicuna family, stops at a huge illegal wood factory on its margins and reaches the surprising hidden community of New Jerusalem.

The cataclysm that we see with the arrival of missionaries is just the beginning of a total loss of identity and the transformation of the indigenous culture into an unhealthy and miserable Christian context which in fact borders madness.