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The real 'Avatar': Cameron shoots Amazon tribe in 3D

You wait all these years for James Cameron to make a 3D film about a peaceful tribe whose pastoral existence is threatened by greedy developers. Then, like the proverbial London bus, three come along in quick succession.

The director behind Avatar, which last year became the most lucrative movie in history, making more than $2bn at the box office, has announced that he will visit Brazil later this year to make a documentary about an Amazon tribe's efforts to block construction of a dam they fear will destroy traditional hunting grounds.

Cameron said that the plight of the Xikrin-Kayapo tribe – which he has already chronicled in one short documentary – reminded him of that of the Na'vi, the blue-skinned aliens whose planet is exploited by a mining company in the blockbuster film. "I want to return to meet some of the leaders of the Xikrin-Kayapo tribe who invited me back," he said, adding that he had first met the group during a tour of the Amazon to promote Avatar. "I want to take a 3D camera to film how they live, their culture."

Brazil's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, announced last week that he intended to green-light the controversial proposed Belo Monte hydroelectric plant on the Xingu River, which is a southern tributary of the Amazon. Building work is set to begin there later this year.

Although the country's government is adamant that indigenous lands will not be part of the 200 square mile flood zone that will be created during the project, opponents of the dam project say it would displace 16,000 people and destroy hunting grounds which are vital to the Xikrin-Kayapo's survival.

Cameron says his short film about the tribe will be included on the DVD version of Avatar, which is scheduled to be released around Christmas. The new, extended documentary will be slotted around filming of a sequel to Avatar, which is already under way. "The Brazilian Indians, who were desperate, I couldn't turn away," he added.