By Matthew Carey

The makers of National Geographic’s The Territory are celebrating their win at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, one of the most prestigious awards in nonfiction.

The prize, voted on by a special jury, was shared by director-producer Alex Pritz, producers Darren Aronofsky, Sigrid Dyekjær, Will N. Miller, Gabriel Uchida, and Lizzie Gillett, and executive producer Txai Suruí. Their film centers on the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people, who face constant assault as they try to protect their territory within Brazil’s Amazon rainforest from invasion by outsiders. As Deadline previously wrote about the film, those invaders are “engaged in burning down great swaths of the rainforest for mining, logging, clearing land for cattle and homesteading.”

The film also underscores what’s at stake with each acre of Brazilian rainforest that goes up in smoke — it is the ecological health of the Earth that hangs in the balance.

“To receive the recognition of our peers, alongside such an incredible group of nominees, is an unbelievable honor,” Pritz told Deadline after his Emmy win. “We share this award with communities around the world who are standing up in defense of our planet’s continued habitability and fighting for a better future.”

Among those who attended the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony Sunday night were Neidinha Bandeira, a defender of the Uru-eu-wau-wau who is one of the main characters in the documentary. She previously told Deadline, “The Uru-eu-wau-wau Indigenous territory is important for the whole planet, because of its nature and biodiversity and because it’s fighting climate change.”

Bitaté Uru-eu-wau-wau, an emerging leader of his Indigenous group, also attended the Emmy ceremony. He participated in the film and has taken an active role teaching his people how to shoot and edit video so that they can be better represented in media narratives about their land.

In an interview with Deadline last year, Bitaté said of The Territory, “It brings to the forefront the fight of my people. It displays for the world the situation we live in. We know that the challenge that we face — that we have always faced in our territory — is being represented now to the world beyond Brazil. People are talking about it. I feel very good about that.” He added, “We are also calling on the government of Brazil to protect all of our regions and our communities. We need help not only here in my community, but throughout all of our Indigenous territories.”

The Territory features exceptional photography, both aerials allowing viewers to see how much of the rainforest is being chewed up, and the life that exists under the remaining canopy, down to the almost imperceptible movements of insects.

“I really wanted visually to be able to move between the big and the small, because this story is about the climate and about the planet and these really huge forces, the rise of populist authoritarianism and these huge themes — manifest destiny,” Pritz told Deadline previously. “But it’s also about the individual characters… and we wanted to make a film that was able to move between the macro level forces and the micro level people and regional conflicts that encapsulates it. Trying to build a visual language where we can move between satellite imagery of the continent where you see, over 30 years, how many trees have been lost and what this really looks like and then go all the way down to like one caterpillar and really just focus on that.”

Fellow nominees in the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking category included Last Flight Home, directed and produced by Ondi Timoner and produced by David Turner; The Accused: Damned Or Devoted?, directed and produced by Mohammed Ali Naqvi, and Aftershock, directed and produced by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee.

According to the TV Academy, the purpose of the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking Award “is to both honor and encourage profound social impact, significant innovation of form, and remarkable mastery of filmmaking technique.” As the TV Academy’s rules note, “All applicants for candidacy in this juried award [are] required to submit a written statement that expresses the program’s qualifications as a Documentary Film with Exceptional Merit.”