Selected Film

Life on the Amazon Waters

"Life on the Amazon Waters'' is a documentary that explores the unique architecture of the riverine communities located in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. Directed by architect Danielle Khoury Gregorio and featuring footage by photographer and videomaker Marcio Isensee e Sá, the film portrays the stilt houses and floating homes of the region, traditional constructions that present simple and ingenious solutions used by local peoples to produce housing in close dialogue with the climate and periodically flooded landscape of the Amazonian river plains. These collective construction techniques, informally transmitted orally and empirically refined over generations, represent an effective response to local functional, social, and environmental needs, being the fundamental expression of the communities' identity and their relationships with the territory. The production of the documentary aims to value and defend the cultural expressions of traditional peoples living in the floodplain areas of the Amazon Basin, which are essential to Brazil's culture. Even today, stilt and floating homes are extremely marginalized, losing more and more space in Amazonian cities. Riverside houses are often discriminated against and assimilated with precariousness, poverty, and obsolescence. The hegemonic models of building and living invisibilize these traditional ways of life, replacing vernacular constructions with a globalized architecture that denies popular knowledge and imposes a homogeneous model to be replicated without respect or adequacy to local conditions. The documentary has as its main characters residents, community leaders, and local builders, who tell their story and the story of their homes. Their narratives demonstrate that building stilt and floating homes, unlike common belief, is not an unordered or irrational process. These dwellings are expressions of a material culture that follows precise knowledge and techniques, an essential condition for adapting to the demands of life on the waters. Besides being preserved, these constructions should also teach architects to build spaces in greater harmony with local conditions, as they present specific strategies developed in the need for adaptation to the complex and challenging environment of the Amazon river basin floodplain areas. These strategies enable the production of buildings better integrated into the territory and with a lower environmental impact, generating alternatives to urban solutions, often made with superfluous and generic values. Supported by the Holcim Foundation, "Life on the Amazon Waters'' was filmed in August 2022, in the floating community of Catalão (Iranduba) and in the stilt communities of Xiborena (Iranduba) and Careiro da Várzea. In addition to showing the poetry, strength, and unique character of riverside constructions, the film presents the riverine man and his relationship with the rivers and spaces where he lives, showing how environmental dynamics guide the socio-spatial organization of the communities. The film is a tribute to riverside culture and architecture, and an invitation to reflect on the possibilities of a more sustainable and territorially integrated architecture.

Duration: 00:30:00
Country of Origin: Brazil
Language: Portuguese




Key Cast:

Other Credits: Direction and Research: Danielle Khoury Gregorio; Co-direction and Photography: Marcio Isensee e Sá; Screenplay and Production: Duda Menegassi; Field Production: Raquel Khoury Gregorio; Sound Recording: Taiara Guedes; Editing: Rodrigo Savastano; Sound Design and Mixing: Fabrizio Ferri, Lowis Bianco, Lucas Muniz; Color Grading: Samanta do Amaral; Motion Design: Julia Lima; Sponsoring Institution: Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction