In 2008, Cowell donated the majority of his work on the Amazon region to the Universidade Católica de Goias (UCG). The seven tonnes of film, photographs and documents took three months to prepare and pack before being sent out from Cowell’s London home. This massive undertaking was only possible with the support of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Petrobras and others.
Cowell’s work is archived at UCG’s Instituto Goiano de Pré-História e Antropologia (IGPA), where a team of audio-visual technicians are working on cataloging and digitizing it. This archive, Historias da Amazonia – 50 Anos de Memoria Audiovisual, is unique in its focus and origin. It is a chronicle that bears witness to the events that unfolded in the Amazon region over half a century filmed by one man and his crew.
UCG played an essential role as co-producer on Cowell’s films made in Brazil during the 1980s. Without the University’s involvement Cowell’s seminal work, The Decade of Destruction and his later films would not have been possible. Particularly important was the thirty-five year partnership between Cowell and Vicente Rios, cameraman, photographer and co-director. Rios is based at UCG and is leading the team of technicians working on the archive.
Cowell donated his Amazon collection to UCG not only because of the vital production role the university had played, but also because he firmly believed that the materials belonged to the peoples of the Amazon and that they should be available to all for research purposes.
You can find out more about the archive by following this link: Projeto Historias da Amazonia.