In Search of One River is a Colombian documentary film currently in post-production about a recent retracing of the 1940s Colombian Amazon journeys of Richard Schultes, the scientist/explorer called the father of modern ethnobotany. A sort of real-life Indiana Jones-style jungle adventurer, he introduced magic mushrooms to the American counterculture through a scientific article, discovered the source of curare, and was one of the first people to alert the world about destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the disappearance of its native people.
Watch a two-minute preview on the movie site’s main page here.
From the movie’s website:
We set out to research and produce a documentary in the Amazon, facing danger and adventure. We sailed the Apaporis river, and sought the cultures that Schultes found, with surprising results. We explored basic questions: How much has the Amazon changed in the last three decades? What has happened to the indigenous cultures with whom Schultes lived? What knowledge is in danger of disappearing today? What knowledge remains? How much access do we have to the knowledge about plants and states of being of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon?
As ethnobotanist Wade Davis, another strong influence on the film who was one of Schultes’ students, has been an incredible inspiration in my life, I was delighted to guest blog on the movie website.
I couldn’t tell you the year Wade Davis first brought good things from strange lands into my life; it seems so long ago. I guess it started with The Serpent and the Rainbow, a book that my little small-town mountain library somehow had.
The book had nothing to do with the horror movie loosely based on it that I’d watched with my best friend, laying on the bed in her bedroom one afternoon. Comparing the silly schlock of the movie with the humor, adventure and spirit of inquiry and intercultural curiosity that soaked that book through was one of my first encounters with the idea that something needs to be lessened and debased before it can be consumed by the masses.
Or in the case of Serpent, used only as a taking-off point for a wild fiction a fraction as interesting as the wholly true adventures of a young ethnobotanist tracking down proof of, and the recipe for, zombie poison.
Read the whole thing here.