Tim Blake Nelson and Gretchen Mol star in this environmental thriller as American investors building an illegal dam in the Amazon. Thomas (Nelson) must travel to Brazil to help persuade an indigenous agency bureaucrat overseeing the project. But when a young indigenous girl is kidnapped and forced into prostitution, entangling Thomas in a tug-of-war with the indigenous population the dam would displace.
The struggles of indigenous peoples are not new ones, but rarely specific to just one region. It starts with a group of people who have arrived first in their territory and have chosen to live off their land in simplicity. Along comes "progress" to either assimilate or crush these peoples. In Sabrina McCormick and Soopum Sohn's Sequestrada, corporate progress is hoping to absorb the Arara people into Brazilian society with promises of housing, schools, and hospitals with all the Western conveniences. The film calls these bureaucrats, waving the banners of a good life, a simple word…"liars."
Sequestrada is a beautiful film showing off the elegance of the Amazon river and the simplicity of the indigenous villages. The drama is shot with handheld cameras giving off a fly-on-the-wall documentary style of filmmaking. The acting isn't that great but oddly feels authentic. Everyone is natural in their roles, and no one plays up the camera or comes across as over-acting in the slightest. Tim Blake Nelson and Gretchen Mol, as his superior, brings much-needed stability to the cast as well as eyes on the films by American audiences.
Sequestrada ends with a message about the harm caused by dams along the Amazon. Not the damage from human manipulation of rising and lowering waterlines, but the toxic greenhouse gases emitted by them. A fascinating drama spotlighting an important issue.