Year: 2008
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Claudio Santamaria, Alicelia Batista Cabreira, Chiara Caselli, Abrisio Da Silva Pedro, Ademilson Concianza Verga, Matheus Nachtergaele, Ambrósio Vilhava, Leonardo Medeiros, Eliane Juca da Silva, Fabiane Pereira da Silva
Director: Marco Bechis
Countries: Italy / Brazil
Language: Portuguese / Guarani (English subtitles)
UK: 108 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong sex and scenes of hanging
UK Release Date: 18 September 2009 (Limited Release)
Official UK website


In Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, the farming classes lead a wealthy and leisurely existence. Owning vast swaths of agricultural land, covered with GM (genetically modified) crops, they spend their nights entertaining tourists who have come to the area on bird watching holidays.

Meanwhile, the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa people live an uneasy existence on the fringes of the farmers land. Treated as another curiosity by the bird watchers they are forced to live on enclosed reserves. Employment prospects are bleak with little option than to work as semi-slaves on sugar beet plantations. It is a situation that drives many young people to suicide.

One such suicide begins to stir up a rebellion within the local Guarani- Kaiowa community. Led by Nadio and the local shaman the group set up an encampment on the border of a farming estate in a bid to regain the land on which their forefathers are buried. Thus the two opposing worlds are forced to face each other, clashing both ideologically as well as physically. However, both sides are also fascinated and curious about "the other". This curiosity begins to flower into relationships, best exemplified by the deep bonds that develop between the young shaman apprentice Osvaldo, and the farmer's daughter Maria. But whether their young love can withstand the cultural fissures of a nation remains to be seen.

BIRDWATCHERS has been made in association with human rights organisation Survival International, who work closely with the Guarani. Survival International and Marco Bechis have set up the Guarani Fund to raise money to help the Guarani in their struggle for survival. For further information see

The director

Director Marco Bechis was born in Santiago de Chile, from a Chilean mother and an Italian father, and grew up in both SAo Paulo and Buenos Aires. In 1977, he was expelled from Argentina for political reasons and consequently settled in Milan. He later spent long periods in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Before his carrier in films, he studied Economics at the Bocconi University of Milan, was an elementary school teacher in Argentina, Polaroid-Photographer in Paris and video-artist in New York. In 1981 he attended the film school Albedo in Milan.

In 1982, Marco Bechis created, in collaboration with Amnesty International, a video-installation on a concentration camp called DESAPARECIDOS, DOVE SONO?, which was exhibited in Milan. This installation lay the foundations for his later film GARAGE OLIMPO.

In 1985 he wrote CHIP, based on the short stories by J L Borges (1899-1986). He discussed the script with the author and began to work on the film but due to the death of the author, the work was interrupted.

From 1983 to 1986 he worked with the Studio Pontaccio in Milan, directing and producing experimental shorts for RAI. In 1984 he shot ABSENT, an experimental video which won the Festival of Salsomaggiore (Italy) the same year.

In 1985, he was a video consultant for the film GINGER E FRED by F Fellini. In 1987 he directed STORIE METROPOLITANE for RAI, a series of short films taking place in seven cities of the world. In 1991 he made his debut in feature films with ALAMBRADO (Locarno Film Festival 1991). From 1994 to 1996 he shoot the documentary LUCA'S FILM in India that was dedicated to his friend Luca Pizzorno, sculptor, artist, photographer, who had died within that year. (Locarno Film Festival 1996). In 1995 he wrote (but didn't direct) IL CARNIERE, a film about Bosnia, which won the Premio Amidei '97 for the best Italian script.

His second feature film was GARAGE OLIMPO (1999), the story of a concentration camp in Argentina during the military dictatorship (52nd Cannes festival). In HIJOS-FIGLI, his third feature film, he addressed the drama of the children of disappeared Argentineans who were illegally adopted by ex-military families (Mostra del Cinema di Venezia del 2001).

His films received 14 international awards.

In 2004, Marco Bechis founded KARTA FILM and started the preparation for BIRDWATCHERS, his first film as a producer, in collaboration with Amedeo Pagani's Classic.