THE TERRITORY • Curriculum Guide

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GRADES: 9-12

TABLE OF CONTENTS Instructor Resources A Letter to Educators Discussion Questions Interpretive Essay Prompts Additional Resources Standards About CFI

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Student Handouts About the Film Contextual Information Viewing Activities Extension Activity

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Dear Educators, Thank you for attending the California Film Institute’s DocLands screening of The Territory. Our DocLands Education screenings focus on increasingly relevant issues of global empathy and active citizenship, and we believe this film will be a powerful and engaging text to use in your classroom. We know that this year is likely one of the most challenging of your professional career, and we hope that this film and study guide can support the incredible work you’re already doing. These curricular materials are designed to get students to engage deeply with film by the common-core aligned skills of developing an evidence-based interpretation of a text. The discussion questions on the following page offer a variety of options for fostering small-group or whole-class dialogue. If your students are already familiar with a process of writing evidence-based interpretive essays, consider using one of the suggested essay prompts for a short writing piece. Additionally, individual handouts for before, during, and after viewing are provided as stand-alone activities to be used individually or in sequence. A final extension activity is provided for more advanced science classes where students have prior experience with ecology and data interpretation. Thank you so much for your tireless work! Sincerely, The CFI Education Team

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



What are the central issues addressed in this documentary? What has changed between the start and the end?


What are some surprising facts you learned from this film? How do these facts shape your understanding of the central issue of the film?


Does this documentary feel objective and/or balanced in its presentation of the issues? Why or why not?


What did you see in this film that reminds you of other stories from your life or other stories you know?


Were there any perspectives relevant to the central issues of the documentary that were not included? How would those voices have changed the film?


What are some background details you noticed in this film? How do these details provide information about the time or place in which this film was made?


Consider other films you’ve seen. What makes this film unique or important? What are some connections between this film and other films?


What advantages does Bito’s youth give him as a leader? What weaknesses might he have, and how does he compensate for them?


How did the Uru-eu-wau-wau people use media as part of a larger strategy to protect their land? Were these tactics effective?

10. Why are the events and struggles shown in this film relevant to people outside the Amazon rainforest?


What does this film reveal about the causes of deforestation and the effects it has on both human and non-human life?


What differences and similarities does the plight of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau have to other contemporary environmental, political, or social movements?

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Mapping the Amazon The first of a four-part NASA article on deforestation in the Amazon. Ethnography of the Uru-eu-wau-wau Additional information on the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, including identification, demography, history, social organization, myths, and practices. Amazon Watch A nonprofit organization with a mission of protecting the rainforest and our climate in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.

STANDARDS CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text. NGSS.MS-ESS3-4 Earth and Human Activity Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems. NGSS.MS-LS2-4 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

ABOUT CFI The nonprofit California Film Institute celebrates and promotes film as art and education through year-round programming at the independent Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, presentation of the acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festival and DocLands Documentary Film Festival, as well as cultivation of the next generation of filmmakers and audiences through CFI Education programs. Follow the California Film Institute on social media @cafilm @californiafilminstitute @cafilminstitute californiafilminstitute The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



ABOUT THE FILM The Territory is a visually lush and gripping portrait of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people and their heroic efforts to fend off illegal land grabs in the Amazon during the reign of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Deftly navigating the complex environmental, cultural and political issues at stake, filmmaker Alex Pritz also shares the perspectives of local farmers trying to form a settlement in the area and a group of homesteaders determined to clear-cut the forest before anyone can stop them. The film demonstrates the material and emotional costs of deforestation in the world’s largest tropical Rainforest. Note: This film contains some mild profanity The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



Alex Pritz is a documentary filmmaker focused on human’s relationship with the natural world. Recently, Alex directed The Territory, which premiered in the World Cinema competition at Sundance 2022 where it won both the Audience Award and a Special Jury Award for Documentary Craft, making it the only film at that year’s festival to win awards from both the jury and the audience. IndieWire described the film as, “Gorgeously and sometimes ingeniously conceived, painting an intimate first-hand portrait of joy, pain, and community, before bursting with rip-roaring intensity as it captures a high-stakes struggle for survival unfolding in the moment.” Pritz is a co-owner of Documist, and has received grants from the Sundance Institute, IDA Enterprise Fund, Catapult Fund, and Doc Society.

FACTS ABOUT THE AMAZON The Amazon basin spans at least 6 million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles), nearly twice the size of India. It is home to Earth’s largest rainforest, as well as the largest river for the volume of its flow and the size of its drainage basin. The rainforest, which covers about 80 percent of the basin, is home to one-fifth of the world’s land species, including many found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to more than 30 million people, including hundreds of indigenous groups and several dozen uncontacted or isolated tribes. The Amazon rainforest is also an enormous carbon sink: an area that draws down carbon from the atmosphere. It also pumps huge quantities of water into the air through a process called transpiration. Enough moisture rises out of the Amazon to supply vast “flying rivers” and about half of the rain that falls back down on the region. In spite of its vast size and clear significance to the planet, there is much about the Amazon that remains enigmatic because it is such a complex and challenging place to study. It is just as hard to manage. Surrounded by mountainous plateaus on most sides, much of the basin is remote and difficult to access. It covers about one-third of South America; it spans eight countries and many more state and tribal borders; and it features a mosaic of intersecting and overlapping ecosystems. But as satellite observations have accumulated over the decades, as computing and cartography techniques have advanced, and as new satellites have been flown, remote sensing scientists have found increasingly sophisticated ways to piece together maps and narratives that better explain the Amazon region. Much of this new data shows that over the past several decades, the Amazon has undergone significant changes, including major losses in forest area, expansion of land usage for farming, and shifts in management practices.

Text Adapted from “Mapping the Amazon”

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education




List either the function of consumers or some examples of possible consumer species in a rainforest ecosystem.


List either the function of decomposers or some examples of possible decomposer species in a rainforest ecosystem.

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education


What effects could deforestation have on the organisms in each trophic level?

List either the function of producers or some examples of possible producer species in a rainforest ecosystem.


Don’t worry about total accuracy or completeness in this exercise. The point is mainly to recall any knowledge you have about the complexity of biological relationships in an ecosystem.

Directions: The film you are about to watch documents an indigenous population that lives in the Amazon rainforest. Activate your prior knowledge about this type of ecosystem by recalling the functions of the producer, consumer, and decomposer trophic levels in a rainforest’s food chain and brainstorming what types of organisms might exist at each level of this particular ecosystem. Then respond to the reflection question below to consider how deforestation might affect the balance of these trophic levels.




INVADERS & DEFENDERS NOTECATCHER Directions: The film you are about to watch follows the Uru-eu-wau-wau, an indigenous population who live in the Amazon rainforest, as they defend their land from encroachment and deforestation at the hands of outsiders. Use this chart to track the events of the conflict, noting actions taken by the invaders in the left column and actions taken by the Uru-eu-wau-wau in the right column.


What actions and tactics do non-indigenous invaders and farmers use to try and claim Uru-eu-wau-wau land?


What actions and tactics do the Uru-eu-wau-wau people use to defend their land from encroachment by outsiders?

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



RESPONSE QUESTIONS Directions: Respond to each question, referring to specific scenes, events, and dialogue from the film as evidence for your interpretation. 1. The Uru-eu-wauwau have a small population of less than 1,000 people. What methods did they use to compensate for their small population when fending off invaders? Which tactics do you think were most important to their cause? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Bitate was only 20 years old when he took on a role as a leader of the Uru-eu-wau-wau. What qualities made Bitate an effective leader, despite his young age? What advantages might his age have brought to their efforts? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. How did the popularity and election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reflect or influence the actions of non-indigenous peoples in the Uru-eu-wau-wau’s lands? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. What do you think was the overall message the filmmakers were trying to convey? What imagery in the film was most effective at conveying that message? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



Directions: Respond to each prompt in complete sentences, citing specific scenes, events, and dialogue from the film as evidence for your response.



What connections do you draw between the film and your own life or your other learning?

What ideas, positions, or assumptions do you want to challenge or debate in the film?



What key concepts or ideas do you think are important and worth holding on to from the film?

What changes in attitudes, thinking, or action are suggested by the film, either for you or others?

Adapted from Harvard Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox: The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON Directions: If you have studied ecosystems, earth science, or environmental science, then you may be able to relate the plight of the Uru-eu-wau-wau to larger issues throughout the Amazon and Earth as a whole. This activity asks you to consider the events of the film as part of a larger issue of Amazon deforestation, looking for connections between the film and additional data about the Amazon. 1. Examine the graph, satellite imagery, and information on deforestation practices on the following pages. 2. Infer what processes are depicted in these images by connecting them to the events seen in the film. 3. Either alone or with classmates, prepare a presentation/report in which you argue either for or against policies to protect the Uru-eu-wau-wau land, using these images along with observations from the film as evidence to support your argument. 4. In your argument, consider how the practices depicted here and in the film have the potential to impact ecosystems beyond the Amazon rainforest. 5. Also, keep in the mind, the Uru-eu-wau-wau are one of many indigenous groups in the Amazon, and the images here are not specific to their particular land territory. If more contextual information is needed to accurately interpret the data in the graph and the satellite imagery, refer to this article from the NASA Earth Observatory website:

Amazon Deforestation Rate: 2001 - 2019 Source:

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON Since the 1970s, satellites have observed multiple waves of clearcutting as they have spread across the southern Amazon. With fire, chainsaw, axe, and heavy machinery, people have cleared more than a sixth of the forest that once existed. In parts of the Amazon where forests still stand, thinning canopies hint at significant degradation due to logging, drought stress, and understory fire activity. Satellites have provided scientists with unparalleled views of these changes. In addition to simply tallying how much forest has been cut, scientists have deciphered much about how deforestation has unfolded over four decades. One of the themes that emerges is just how dynamic deforestation has been. Deforestation over time in the Amazon: June 14, 2013 - June 12, 2018

“It is not a uniform process by any means,” said Eugenio Arima, a land system scientist from the University of Texas at Austin. “If you look at deforestation patterns carefully, you can see the fingerprints of economic and institutional history etched into some parts of the landscape.” In many Amazon countries, deforestation has tended to follow rivers, which are often the main transportation routes to remote parts of the rainforest. Prior to the 1970s, this was the case for Brazil as well.

Image and text adapted from:

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON By the 1970s, deforestation began to change dramatically, as forest clearing spread from federal highways in a fishbone pattern that was the product of a major infrastructure and settlement initiative launched by the Brazilian government to develop the rainforest. This resettlement effort was largely aimed at providing homesteading land for families and small-scale, independent farmers. The creation of highways and 100-hectare plots led to an unmistakable orthogonal pattern on the landscape. Secondary roads were often built perpendicular to the main arteries, and spreading out Deforestation patterns in the Amazon: June 28, 2018 - September 12, 2019 into forest areas in radial patterns. The government-run settlement programs of the 1970s did not last. Within a few years, loan programs, tax breaks, and other incentives encouraged wealthy financiers to invest in large-scale cattle ranching and soy farming operations. These operations would often rip down large areas of forest and leave the downed trees and brush to dry out for a few months or even years, appearing to satellite images as a change in the “greenness” of the canopy. Where the land is flat and well-drained, a distinctive rectangular deforestation pattern associated with farming often emerges. In some areas where large-scale ranch and farm operations did not develop, loggers, land grabbers, small farmers, and ranchers continued to move in and compete for new territory. These outfits followed the old logging roads that would spread outward from a town. As loggers and miners pushed into undeveloped parts of the forest, they built roads that generally followed the natural contours of the land and formed curving, dendritic shapes.

Image and text adapted from:

The Territory Curriculum Guide | CFI Education


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