Adrian Cowell

Adrian Cowell (2 February 1934 – 11 October 2011) was a British filmmaker, born in Tangshan, China. He was best known for producing documentaries about Chico Mendes and deforestation in the Amazon and the opium/heroin trade out of the Shan States, Burma (Myanmar).[1]

While a student at Cambridge, Cowell planned (but was unable to take part in) the 1954 Oxford and Cambridge Trans-Africa Expedition,[2] and took part in the 1955-6 Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition to Singapore and the 1957-8 Oxford and Cambridge Expedition to South America. It was on the latter expedition team that Cowell met the Villas-Bôas brothers and left the Oxford and Cambridge Expedition to join them on the Centro Geographico Expedition to find the geographical centre of Brazil. This was the beginning of his connection with South America and, in particular, Brazil.[3]

He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Cherry Kearton Medal and Award in 1985.[4] In his obituary in The Guardian, Anthony Hayward wrote that he was "one of the most successful" documentary makers of his generation. His documentaries about the rain forest brought the subject significant political attention.[5]


  1. "Adrian Cowell". The Telegraph. 9 November 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  2. Cowell, Adrian (11 September 1955). "It's started: The 'rally' to Singapore". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  3. "Biography: John Adrian Cowell 1934 - 2011". Adrian Cowell Films. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  4. "Medals and Awards" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  5. Hayward, Anthony (3 November 2011). "Adrian Cowell obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
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