As part of the 10th annual Photoville Festival in New York City, Teo Belton and Florence Goupil’s documentary, Dialogue with Plants, will be screening at the Brooklyn Bridge Park — Pier 3. This is one of two Pulitzer Center-sponsored Photoville 2021 exhibitions.
Photoville is an ongoing event with exhibits in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, beginning on September 18, 2021. Throughout the festival, there will be virtual storytelling events, artist talks, educational programming, and open-air exhibitions in parks and other New York public spaces.
Belton and Goupil’s documentary, Dialogue with Plants, documents the use of traditional plant-based medicine during the pandemic, long used and protected by Shipibo-Konibo Indigenous people. Today, the consciousness linked to the biodiversity of the Amazon is in danger of disappearing.
As the pandemic began to ravage the most vulnerable Indigenous communities, Shipibo-Konibo Indigenous people began to trace their roots back to medicine grounded in flora and fauna found in their communities. In a country with a broken health care system and almost no access to oxygen, many of these medicines created by Indigenous people provided some relief from the symptoms brought on by COVID.
“Plants don’t leave us and we don’t leave plants,” says Ronald Suárez, president of the Indigenous organization Coshikox.
Suárez emphasized the critical importance of connecting with elders to better understand biodiversity in the Amazon. Many Indigenous elders have been working with these plants for decades. The abrupt interruption of oral transmission can represent the end of a culture.
About the Artists
Teo Belton is a French and Mexican film director and screenwriter based in Peru. He takes inspiration from themes and landscapes seen in Colombian magical realism. His most recent project is directing the film Uroboros, which is about mourning that meets at the intersection of surrealism and science fiction. This project will be supported by a National Geographic grant. He is also working on a documentary about the Peruvian rainforest with the support of the Pulitzer Center Rainforest Journalism Fund.
Florence Goupil is a French and Peruvian photographer based in Peru. Goupil is currently a National Geographic explorer. She is living in the Peruvian Amazon, working on a multimedia project about COVID-19’s impact on Indigenous communities.
Her work has been exhibited in the International Center of Photography and the Bronx Documentary Center. She has also been published in international outlets, including National Geographic, BBC, and El Pais. To support her upcoming work, she has received a 2020 Getty Images Reportage Grant and the Pulitzer Center Rainforest Journalism Grant.