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The Path of Plants : A Journey to Healing

A documentary by Louis Bidou and Aurélie Marques

About the project

 

Following “The Path of Plants” we traveled Latin America to become familiar with the emblematic plants of indigenous peoples. At times  food, at times medicine, or objects of myth, ritual, or divination, these plants reveal the richness of the bonds that unite man to his environment.

But these plants are also the connecting points between the modern world and traditional ways of life which are rapidly changing.

At the end of our travels, we came back with many pictures, and a strong desire to share the stories we discovered. "The Path of  the Plants: A Journey to Healing" is the first independently-produced documentary to come from this adventure.

Told from  the point of view of patients undergoing a demanding healing process, the film occurs at the intersection of multiple stunning life stories meeting one another at the gates of the Peruvian rainforest.

With respect for traditional Amazonian medicines, this film places spirituality back at the core of the healing process.

 

On the edge of the Peruvian forest, the Takiwasi center welcomes and treats drug addicts from all over the world. Combining psychotherapy and traditional Amazonian medicines, their method for treating addiction is unique.

For nine months, patients live behind closed doors, learning how to create new meaningful social bonds with one another, while facing all aspects of themselves. Purging plants are used to detoxify the body and mind, whilevision plants, such as ayahuasca, allow for an immersion into the unconscious during which patients explore the complexities of memory and identity.

In a setting where everything is ritualized, the center acts as a theater of physical and psychological transformations.

 

They are between 17 and 60 years old, come from four continents and all seek their way to healing. During their treatment, they learn to accept the rules and work to re-build themselves in a game of self-representation. Whether it's dealing with his childhood trauma for Dio, 33-year-old New Yorker, reconciling with his past for Fernando, 60, or learning to become a man for Yorsi and Franck, the plants and the ritualized therapy will be for all a test that goes beyond the fight against addiction.
We chose to accompany four patients to know their story, and understand their evolution at different stages of the treatment. When the one who leaves shows a deep reflection, the others face their issues and contradictions, and put their will to the test of care.

 

The experience of change, of personal transformation, is not linear.

During the healing process, we go through steps which can have both immediate or long-lasting effects. At Takiwasi, these steps are very ritualized - from the arrival at the center, to the ingesting of plants during the therapeutic workshops - there are rules and codes for everything.

This led us to imagine a structure for the film in several acts. Similar to a theatrical play, the scenes present units of time and space which appear in an order that is not necessarily that of reality. The rhythm of the film is built around the changes in the characters’ states during their healing process, and the expression of their different personality traits.


Interviews with their psychotherapists are important milestones for the patients during their stay. We were not granted access to these sessions, and so used the interview format to mirror their effect , creating interludes in the structure of the film. In an office, facing the camera, the patient explains how he thinks of his past, the reasons for his addiction... and how he is working to understand and accept himself. A lot of depth emerges from the juxtaposition of their words and the images of their healing process.

What are the funds for?

We have decided to produce this movie ourselves. This independence will allow us to assert our point of view and express our own style without having to follow an editorial line.

In the past year and a half that we have spent working on the film, we have invested nearly 10 000 € in the project.  

The money from this crowdfunding campaign will only be used for post-production and is 42% of the overall budget.

The costs it will cover include the editing/ mixing/ calibration of the film, but also the motion design and sound design to show the sensitive process of healing with the plants. We will also be translating the film to make it available in French, English and Spanish.

 

About the project owner

Aurélie Marques, director

After graduating in journalism at the Political Sciences Institute of Grenoble in 2014, I have directed magazines and documentaries for public TV and cable. In 2017, I decided to stop everything to get involved in a project that reflects the values I believe in and fight for.

My passion for alternative medicine led me to spend six months travelling in Latin America, seeking to understand traditional healing practices. At Takiwasi, I discovered the therapeutic potential of the meeting between psychotherapy and the science of Amazonian plants. A deep desire to create this film was born in me, and my desire for change was strengthened.  The next step in this process for me will be to begin a training in herbalism.

Louis Bidou, director

With an ethnologist as a father and a psychoanalyst as a mother, The Path of Plants : A Journey to Healing is somewhat the story of me following in their footsteps. After my business studies, I spent almost five years in the social and solidarity economy in Africa. My long stays abroad helped me develop a broader perspective. In 2012, my father sent me the recordings that he had made forty years before of  shamans of the Tatuyo people: they contained ritual myths and songs that had partly disappeared since. I returned to the Colombian Amazon to find the descendants of these shamans and restore this fragment of their intangible heritage to them.


This adventure gave birth to a first documentary "La Voix des Tatuyos"  which was screened in cinemas and festivals. I discovered the pleasure of film directing and the power of the documentary format. The seed was sown! With The Path of Plants, I continue to explore possible meeting points between native people and the modern world.

 

Adrien Bellay, editor

As an editor, I was particularly captivated by the pictures of the Tatuyos. These people live in perfect symbiosis with their environment. "La Voix des Tatuyos" made me realize that it was possible to convey a message with a participative and independent spirit. Following this first collaboration with Louis Bidou, I directed the documentary "L’Éveil de la Permaculture" in 2017, the success of which exceeded all our expectations. This second film came at the perfect time, responding to a public demand for ecology, sharing, community, and creating common culture - a list of values which guide me in my professional projects. I decided to work on The Path of Plants with Louis & Aurélie so as to make these sacred plants and the people whose rituals they belong to better known and understood by today's world.

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