New Amazon Aid Foundation Film Takes a Deeper Look at Amazon Gold Rush

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Building on the success of Amazon Gold, our 2012 documentary on illegal gold mining in Peru's Amazon Rainforest, Amazon Aid Foundation is proud to announce the world premiere of our new film River of Gold at the 2016 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital.

Narrated by Academy Award winners Sissy Spacek and Herbie Hancock, River of Gold is the disturbing account of a clandestine journey into Peru’s Amazon rainforest to uncover the savage unraveling of pristine jungle. Ron Haviv and Donovan Webster, two war journalists, led by Peruvian Enrique Ortiz, bear witness to the apocalyptic destruction in the pursuit of illegally mined gold with consequences on a global scale. Flash forward four years to a massive intervention by the Peruvian government. What will be the fate of this critical region of priceless biodiversity as these extraordinarily beautiful forests are turned into a hellish wasteland?

The Madre de Dios, or “Mother of God” region, of southeastern Peru, where the Amazon rainforest meets the eastern slope of the Andes, is one of the most critical biodiversity hotspots on Earth. This area is the headwaters regions of the Amazon River which carries 20% of our planet’s freshwater to the sea. In addition, there are at least 18 different indigenous groups known to reside in this region and have dwelled there for centuries. The huge tracts of lowland rainforest and high ­elevation cloud forests harbor more than 1,000 bird species, several thousand plant species, untold numbers of insects, and more than 100 mammal species, with countless species yet to be named by science. Some of Peru’s most emblematic animals such as the national bird, the Andean cock­-of-­the-­rock ,and the jaguar are found in Madre de Dios.

Unfortunately, illegal gold mining activity poses a serious threat to the health and stability of this critical region. Illegal gold mining in Peru is now a nearly 3 billion dollar industry contributing to ongoing destruction of pristine rainforest. Environmental degradation and human degradation are irrevocably linked as illegal gold mining is directly tied to corruption, human trafficking, narcotics, and organized crime. It is also responsible for the release of approximately 30 tons of mercury into the Peruvian Amazon annually, poisoning the peoples and species that live there.

Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency
Photo by Ron Haviv, VII Agency

The first film enabled Amazon Aid Foundation to approach governments to open discussions about climate and industry. River of Gold is the platform to raise public awareness of these practices and other environmental issues facing the Amazon rainforest, so that the current rates of deforestation and contamination can be significantly reduced and a shift can be recognized in the climate wars.

River of Gold is an official selection of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital and will premiere on March 26, 2016 at the Carnegie Institution for Science followed by a panel with Sarah duPont, the producer of River of Gold and Amazon Aid president and founder, Peruvian biologist and activist, Enrique Ortiz, and United Nations Senior Fellow of Biology Dr. Tom Lovejoy.

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