Rainforest photo © Ivan Mlinaric
A documentary on the preservation of botanical knowledge among traditional Brazilian societies.
Home to immense biodiversity, Brazil's forests provide an abundance of botanical resources that have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, first by traditional societies, and more recently by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of drug compounds. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, more than 3000 plants have been identified that are active against cancer cells, and 70% of these plants are found only in the rainforest.
Widespread destruction of forest ecosystems is occurring at alarming rates, resulting in the extinction of numerous plant species. Current statistics suggest that up to 9,000 square miles of forest are lost every year in the Amazon rainforest alone, and hundreds of thousands of rainforest species are being extinguished before they have even been identified, much less catalogued and studied.
The forests in Brazil have been inhabited for centuries by native indigenous tribes and Afro-Brazilian hinterland communities. Decades of accelerated deforestation and urban growth have pushed urban development, logging, and massive projects such as hydroelectric plants increasingly into abutment against the traditional lands of these societies, with the effect of not only compromising the vitality of various plant species with abilities to cure or treat ailments, but also threatening the survival of local cultures holding the traditional knowledge has provided these medical benefits.
The traditional healers of these communities lead the fight to preserve and gain control of their traditional lands. Aesthetically powerful in both words and images, these healers expose us to the myriad of ways that traditional societies live in physical and spiritual intimacy with the natural world and how this intimacy is being destroyed. These societies, which have lived off the land without destroying it, are now losing out to logging, hydroelectric projects, and various land development efforts. As their homelands are invaded and destroyed, their cultures and plethora of knowledge become forever lost.
Uprooted is a comprehensive documentary film about local healers in traditional communities in Brazil, and their struggle to preserve the botanical ecosystems of their ancestral lands, along with the botanical knowledge and way of life of their communities.
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