Amazon Aid Foundation’s Artists for The Amazon program is happy to welcome filmmaker Philios Belitti who uses his art to create inspiring, empathetic and informative documentaries about different places and people around the world.
How did you first become inspired by the Amazon?
For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated with nature and its immense power. As I grew up, by watching documentaries, I got to know the wonderful diversity the Amazon rainforest has to offer, but most of all, I was astonished by the extreme importance rainforests have on our lives. I also learned that the forest throughout history has always provided a home for countless tribes and civilizations, which made me fall in love even more with its mystery and magnificence. Now, because of corporate powers, all of that is threatened to be destroyed. I, therefore, understood I had the duty and the responsibility to dig deeper and inform myself. The more I read, the more I felt the need to use my artistic skills to bring awareness to these issues.
How does the Amazon Rainforest and environmentalism manifest in your work?
After learning about the fundamental role nature plays on our lives and how it is being threatened, I decided to travel for a while, not only driven by a thirst of knowledge of the world but because I wanted to get to know those cultures which are still in deep contact with the natural world. Armed only with a camera and a guitar, I tried to translate what I saw and thought through film and music.
After I returned to my hometown, two years ago, I heard the news that thousands of wildfires were spreading all over the Amazon in Brazil. I became interested in the cultural importance of the indigenous peoples that inhabit the Amazon while simultaneously saddened and upset by the injustice they are suffering because of lobbying and political propaganda, I decided to take action.
For about a year I have been involved with an organization that provides indigenous people with tools to document their struggle through film providing my skills as a filmmaker and musician.
Also, I wrote a song called Pachamama, that tries to give voice to those who are seeing their land being destroyed and calls for resistance against those forces who mistreat the Amazon for their own interest.
by Philos Belliti
What drew you to the material for Paradise on Earth? Do you see a parallel film regarding the Amazon?
Paradise on Earth was my first short documentary. As I was volunteering in an organic farm in Thailand, I started to experience a deep connection with nature which I never felt before. The opportunity of seeing life through a different pair of eyes, that of someone who is in deep communion with its natural surroundings, strongly affected my perspective of the world and shifted my priorities. I also never felt more calm and serene in my life. I started to experience a feeling of complete abandonment to a strange force that originated deep inside me. I needed to grab my camera and start recording, in order to show that it was possible to live that way. Also I found the owner of the farm’s philosophy of life deeply inspiring. He believed that if each one of us tries to create a small reality where man and nature are one, we can all make a paradise out of Earth. And so “Paradise on Earth” was born. And so was a passion.
From that moment on, I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to that kind of art, the art that does not exist only for pure entertainment, but which tells stories that can shift our perspective and document the beauty of our planet and its people. Of course, it’s hard to find these stories, especially in the current climate. But I have high hopes for the future.
Regarding the Amazon, at the moment there are a couple of projects I am taking part on which goal is that of documenting the struggle of indigenous people in the Amazon and in other parts of the world. Because of the Covid situation and the difficulty of traveling, however, these projects are still at the developing stages.
Have you ever been to the Amazon? If so, how did it change your POV as an artist? If not, what draws you to it despite never having been there?
Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to travel to the Amazon yet. But it is one of my main goals for the future. What I am most interested in, apart from the fascination towards the forest itself, are the cultures and the people that inhabit it. For most of those people, the forest is a kind mother which provides them with protection and what’s necessary for a life in deep communion with nature and each other. I want to be able to experience that as well. I want to know what it means to see the world through their eyes. I want to know their history and practices and hear their stories. We often forget that before we lived in big cities we led a much simpler life. I believe it is something we ought to rediscover so that we can start building a new kind of future. One that respects and values the natural world.