The Tribe that Hides From Man & The Kingdom in the Forest


In this film, Cowell returns to the Amazon to follow the attempts of the famous Brazilian anthropologists, the Villas Boas brothers, to make contact with the Panara (then known as the Kreen-Akarore). The expedition was prompted by plans for the construction of a road through the Panara’s territory. History testified to how such development would inevitably bring diseases which the Indians had no resistance to and contact was imperative if the tribe was to be protected. This epic story was filmed over a two year period in the region between the River Xingu and the Serra do Cachimbo. Five camermen and two sound recordists joined Cowell during this time. The Villas Boas brothers led the expedition, which included 40 armed Indians, up river and then built an airstrip so that supplies could be flown in and out. From there, they hacked a trail 60km into the jungle between the two rivers, built another airstrip and canoes so that they could travel down river to the Panara’s village. Although the Panara were known to be watching the expedition, they did not emerge from the jungle to make contact. When the expedition finally made it to the Panara’s village, it was abandoned. When they abandoned their second village, the Villas Boas brothers decided that the only way to make contact with the Panara would be to leave presents on the trail and wait for the Panara to come to them. The film ends with Claudio Villas Boas preparing for a long wait.

The story of the Panara is continued in Cowell’s later film Return from Extinction (1999).


Filmed at the same time as The Tribe that Hides from Man, this film examines the beliefs of the Villas Lobos brothers and their work with the indigenous tribes that have moved to the Xingu National Park. Living in close proximity to each other, the different tribes have formed an unusual and original society. As the modern world advances in the form of road building, the Villas Lobos express their concerns about whether the Indians will be able to make a subtle transition to the modern world that will enable them to maintain their traditional way of life.

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