Documentary - Pre-Production 2021

Two mining dams break in Brazil, causing the country's worst-ever socio-environmental disasters. Moving between the state mining council who approves these projects and the experiences of directly affected characters, Tailings leads us among the bureaucracy in search of something human.

    • Year of production
    • 2021
    • Genres
    • Documentary, First film, Environmental
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Pedro DE FILIPPIS
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • In the last few years, two mining dams broke in Minas Gerais, causing Brazil’s worst-ever socio-environmental disasters. Hundreds were killed, millions were affected, many indigenous communities were displaced, and two main rivers were transformed into mud, flooding the Atlantic Ocean with tailings, which is the toxic waste material that comes from a mine. Brazil is one of the few countries that still permit the reckless practice of building the dams with tailings - the cheapest and weakest technique available. Minas Gerais is home to 354 highly precarious dams of the same type.

      The film proposes a contemporary navigation through contrasting environments: the bureaucratic Environmental Policy Council where counselors set mining policy; and the actual mining territories, where we witness the consequences of bureaucratic decisions in a game of cause and effect.

      Among the implicated communities, the film moves from those tangentially affected to those directly impacted, slowly revealing the human cost of this industry of extraction.

      Our main character is Teca (59), who allows us access to the ongoing public debate through her efforts to oppose the industry in the ongoing aftermath of the collapse of the Brumadinho dam, and her own personal struggle in this context. At the risk of losing everything, Teca abandoned her artisan life to assume militancy as her main activity. Today, after 18 years, she has become a reference among environmental movements that act against the current mining model in Brazil and Latin America. Recently, she has become the focus of international media for being the only counselor of the State Policy Council of Minas Gerais to have voted against the continuity license of the mining complex in Brumadinho - a dam which would collapse weeks later. Constantly surrounded by the media, she shakes the superficial impression of reality captured by the TV cameras, calling attention to the fine line between responsibility and complicity.

      This character is supported by a cast of others. The film is interested in those directly affected by the collapses as well as those who, often more compellingly, are tangentially implicated in this complex web. Tailings aims not to slap the audience over the head with a broader discourse, but slowly immerse them in it. In this way, we seek to bypass the political layer and reach all of us.
    • Partners & financing
    • The project’s development is supported by the Sundance Institute, DocSociety, Nia Tero Foundation, Chicago Media Project, and LEF Foundation.
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Apr 01, 2020