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The Chief's Prophecy

There are today again some scientists, business people and billionaires like Bill Gates who are in favour of expanding nuclear power to fight climate change. But an indigenous chief knows better. Nuclear power plants are the worst invention by the white man, he said.

„White man invented a lot like cars, planes, factories. But the nuclear power plant is the worst. It is the stem, the root of destruction“, said Guarani-Mbya Chief Vera Mirim in 2006.

For decades Vera Mirim has been Chief of the Village Sapukai of the Guarani-Mbyá in the Atlantic Rainforest in the south of Rio de Janeiro. This subtropical ecosystem with a diversity as high or even higher than the Amazon Rainforest is sacred to the Guarani-Mbyá and has been for millennia their traditional territory. However, exact here just a few kilometers from Sapukai at the bay of Angra dos Reis the Brazilian military dictatorship has built two nuclear power plants, Angra 1 and Angra 2, without respecting the traditional land rights of the Guarani-Mbya. The location is called in ancient Tupi-Guarani language Itaorna which means „Rotten Rock“.

Since 2010 the third nuclear power plant, Angra 3, is in construction at the same site. And now, 2019, Brazil’s new elected President Jair Bolsonaro announced the construction of further eight new nuclear power plants in the Northeast and other parts of the country.

Indigenous chief Vera Mirim predicted this expansion of nuclear power in Brazil already in 2006 and warned against it, when he was 94 years old.

„Angra 1, Angra 2, Angra 3: Will it continue like this until Angra 4 or 5, 6 or more“, he said. "This is very dangerous, very dangerous. Maybe the nuclear plants will leak! The white men invented a lot like cars and airplanes. Without smoke they do not fly. Smoke all over the planet, bringing pollution. Like the many factories. But the nuclear power plant is the worst of all. It is the root, the trunk! And now, they want to build nuclear power plants in every corner all over Brazil. Will it be good for us? No! We know, it is a great danger.“

„Indigenous Chief Verá Mirim has never gone to school nor received any university degree, but he offers us a master class on ecology and nuclear energy“, says producer and social scientist Márcia Gomes de Oliveira. „Vera Mirim is an important example of the priceless wisdom of the indigenous elders - in Guarani language called Tiramoi - who unfortunately are facing extinction and ignorance not only in Brazil. Instead of constantly ignoring the rich wisdom of these indigenous elders, our modern society should listen to them as long as they are still among us. In the case of Vera Mirim these, my words are coming to late. He died in 2016 at the age of 103 years.“

  • Norbert G. Suchanek
  • Márcia Gomes de Oliveira
  • Norbert G. Suchanek
  • Marcia Gomes de Oliveira
  • Norbert G. Suchanek
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Completion Date:
    July 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Dreamz Catcher International Film Festival
    Best Short Film
  • Festival RNAB "Revelando Novos Atores Brasileiros"
    Sao Paulo
    Official Selection
  • Festival de Cinema de Alter do Chão
    Alter do Chão - Amazonia
    Official Selection
  • Tulum World Environment Film Festival

    August 25, 2022
    Winner Environmental Short Film
Director Biography - Norbert G. Suchanek, Márcia Gomes de Oliveira

Norbert G. Suchanek was born in 1963 in Würzburg in Germany. Since 1988 he works as investigative environmental, human rights and science journalist, book author, photographer and filmmaker. In the 1980ies and 1990ies he researched in conflict regions like Northern Ireland, Palestine and West-Papua. Later he moved his focus on Brazil, its rainforests and indigenous peoples. Since 2006 he lives and works as correspondent and filmmaker in Rio de Janeiro.

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Director Statement

I ask that the indigenous peoples and their traditional territories be respected in Brazil and around the world. Guarani Mbya Chief Vera Mirim gave us a lesson about life and ecology that we will never forget.