Synopsis by Mark Deming
In the mid-'70s, a growing number of Brazilian farm workers found themselves forced off of the land they had worked for years, with few career options available to them. Many found themselves stranded in urban shantytowns after they were unable to find work, and out of this came Brazil's "Landless Movement." The idea behind the movement was to stake legal claim to unused land and allow settlers to move in; those who stayed on and worked the land would in time divide up legal claim to it, which would give the economically deprived a place to live and a means of supporting themselves. However, in Brazil -- a nation where one percent of the population owns half of the available land -- this notion proved unpopular with wealthy landowners, who not only offered political resistance to the Landless Movement, but in some cases raised private armies to drive the newcomers off the land by force. Los Sin Tierra: Por Los Caminos de America is an activist documentary that charts the difficult history and eventual successes of the Landless Movement. The film was backed in part by El Deseo, a production company owned by filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.