No culture has a monopoly on knowledge
At a critical point in the climate crisis,
we are making a film that expresses human kind's profound connection with nature. In the Amazon, a variety of plant species are considered doctors, teachers, intelligent beings. A sophisticated medicinal practice was developed around them and has been in use for millennia. Its effectiveness today is being carefully studied by Western science. Curandero takes a closer look as these two powerful systems of knowledge production converge and interact to produce something new.
INSPIRED BY WISEMAN'S "HOSPITAL" 1969
In 1969 Frederick Wiseman and his crew set out to film daily life at New York City's Metropolitan Hospital. They spent a few weeks with doctors, patients and the people that inhabit the enormous building. The result is a poignant depiction of human relations in contemporary society. The contrast of emotions and bureaucracy, the strange approach to healthcare, the small interactions that make-up day-to-day activity. The camera has full access to intimate moments and its presence seems all but forgotten by the people living out a real life drama that's beautifully portrayed in this classic film.
Dr Jacques Mabit came to the Peruvian Amazon in the 1980's as part of a Doctors Without Boarders mission. He was startled to realize that the communities he worked with had a highly developed medical practice based on knowledge from Pre-Columbian cultures. Dr Mabit decided to investigate these practices and started his training as a curandero – a traditional Amazonian healer. We follow him during his work today as well as other curanderos who have dedicated their lives to healing and self-knowledge.
Jaime Torres is a Peruvian psychologist and university teacher. Unsatisfied with the limitations of the methods available and curious about the regional culture, Mr Torres contacted a small therapy center that combined traditional medicine with psychology: Takiwasi. After two decades of training with some of the region's most notorious curanderos, today Mr Torres leads the team at Takiwasi, offering treatment for severe drug-addiction and therapeutic sessions for patients from across the globe.
Dr Veronika Kavenska PhD, came to the Peruvian Amazon a decade ago "with the typical European dream of studying with an autochthonous tribe". Instead she discovered a widespread practice that was common in urban centers of all sizes and deeply established in the everyday life of people in the Amazonian region. Much to her surprise, this complex object of study would end up transforming her life completely, including her own understanding of science itself.
Edgardo Tuanama is a descendent of the Lamista indians of the High Amazon forest. Through his experiences with ayahuasaca he has been developing his knowledge of the Amazonian pharmacopeia and learning new chants and techniques - "the plants, the forest and my ancestors, they teach me". He is a force in the sessions at Takiwasi and a connection between pre-Columbian cultures and the contemporary world.