Ciclovida: Lifecycle pedals alongside a group of subsistence farmers from Brazil who bicycle over 6,000 miles across the South American continent in search of natural seeds.
This feature-length documentary is made up of moving stories from landless peasants, indigenous communities, and small farmers that expose the devastating effects of industrial agriculture destined for agrofuels.
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More about the film:
With practically no money and no support crew, the protagonists rely entirely on their resourcefulness and the solidarity of people they meet along the way. They carry with them only the simplest of necessities, their radical ideas and philosophy, collected heirloom seeds, and a video camera. The main characters, Inacio and Ivania, identify as farmers, poets, musicians, and activists for ecological and social justice. They seek to gather and disseminate thousands of seeds, a wealth of knowledge, and contribute to an invaluable network amongst small agricultural communities of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, all without the use of oil or biofuels. This film also explores their role as parents who struggle with the distance, both physical and figurative, from their children, who share their ideals but remain at their home and do not accompany them on the journey.
This stirring narrative captivates its audience , while it unflinchingly conveys the disturbing ecological, economic, and social impacts of large agribusiness practices. It portrays an alternative to the biofuel monocultures that threaten all small farmers, as the triumphant protagonists create significant and sustainable change using what sparse resources they have.
Full Plot Summary:
Inacio and Ivania, the two main characters, devise the idea and plan for a bicycle journey to Buenos Aires, Argentina and back, over 6,000 miles. They describe their philosophy of respectful relations with the Earth and other people as the basis for their mode of transportation and the need to gather naturally reproducing seeds and to create networks for future sharing of ideas and seeds as the motivation for the voyage.
The underlying pressures of industrial agriculture, with a focus on biofuel crops, are explained in detail, including the historical groundwork that was laid by the old imperial governments. Land struggle movements are described, with close attention to the reasons that compel farmers to use cash-monocrops and stray from subsistence agriculture. In particular this film intimately portrays the economic and ecological impacts of such farming practices and their implicit uses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and genetically modified seeds from the protagonists' point of view.
The film follows the protagonists as they embark on their journey south through Brazil, across the borders of Paraguay and Argentina to Buenos Aires and eventually back home through Uruguay to Northeastern Brazil, stopping along the way to gather novel ideas, seeds, and touching stories from landless laborers, agricultural schools, small farmers, and other supporters sympathetic to their cause.
This feature runs the emotional gambit from the darkest depressing fears of ecological and economic devastation to the uplifting joy of a triumphant return and successful undertaking that spreads an intellectual and tangible wealth amongst dozens of poor communities and thousands of small farmers. It also touches on the personal aspects of the trip for Inacio and Ivania, as they struggle with their own fears of failure, loneliness and separation from family and friends, as well as isolation from the mainstream culture.
With the growing and dispersal of the gathered seeds after protagonists return, there is a celebratory feel to the ending, while the need for the continued restructuring of environmental and social relationships is conveyed.