×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Apaporis

Antonio Dorado Z. ventures forth to retrace the 1942 journey of famed botanist Richard Schultes.

With:
With: Wade Davis, Antonio Dorado, Gustavo Rojas Pachacuari, Rondon Tanimuca. (English, Spanish, Cubeo dialogue)

Colombian helmer Antonio Dorado Z. ventures forth to retrace the 1942 journey of famed American botanist Richard Schultes through the Amazon jungle in “Apaporis.” En route, he samples aquatic vistas of savage, rugged beauty, ongoing civil wars and ecological disasters, and age-old rituals and shamanistic explanations of the world’s origins. The result is, quite literally, overwhelming — a tidal wave of information and imagery from different places, times and cultural contexts, all clamoring to be processed within 74 minutes. Pic is playing as part of IDA’s DocuWeeks, showcasing 17 films for Oscar consideration in Los Angeles and New York.

A fascinating newsreel clip of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s impassioned speech about rubber’s crucial importance to the war effort places Schultes’ original Amazonian trip in context. Sent by the U.S. government to research durable rubber strains, Schultes wound up staying 12 years, documenting rare psychotropic plants and recording the unique beliefs and lifestyles of people he encountered along the Apaporis River.

Popular on Variety

Armed with photographs from Schultes’ expedition, Dorado Z. sets out to discover what happened to the natives in those photographs, curious to see if their cultures and languages survived the exploitation of the rainforest and the decades-long wars that have ravaged Colombia. As the party embarks, ancient warnings of cannibals now compete with cautionary tales of guerrilla and paramilitary forces.

During his travels, the helmer actually finds an old man who identifies certain youths in Schultes’ photos, one of them the man’s own (now dead) brother. A shaman is profoundly moved by the pictures of his ancestors, while Schultes’ legend, rekindled by those black-and-white evocations of the past, leads to invitations to witness sacred rituals. The camera documents a shaman shooting a bird with a poisoned arrow and then resuscitating it with the very substance that first poisoned it.

When not declaiming the disappearance of unique, powerful natural and human resources wiped out by stupidity and greed (pic alerts viewers that every 15 days, a language is lost forever), the film strains to reproduce the awesome might of nature and the spiritual magic of those communing with its power. Crashing thunder and sky-splitting lightning accompany native ceremonies, while Alejandro Ramirez Rojas’ sweeping, fully orchestrated score vies with the rushing rapids and towering waterfalls of

Pic admirably crams volumes of material into a short-running package but makes no attempt at orderly exposition, seemingly opting for more mystical continuity. Disembodied voices succeed one another; a shaman’s imagistic description of the beginning of the universe is promptly followed by an English voice, expounding on the untapped wisdom of tribes who have divined secrets of survival in nature.

The English voice belongs to Wade Davis, Schultes’ student and the author of a seminal book on the Apaporis River, whom the helmer interviewed prior to his trek. Somewhat disorientingly, direct quotations from Davis or cutaways to him are apt to pop up unexpectedly, part of the stream of unfiltered experience Dorado unleashes.

Apaporis

Colombia

Production: A Fundacion Imagen Latina production. Produced by Alberto Dorado. Directed, written by Antonio Dorado Z.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Mauricio Vidal; editor, Mauricio Vergara; music, Alejandro Ramirez Rojas; sound, Alfonso Calvo, Cesar Salazar; sound designer, Ramiro Fierro Arresta. Reviewed at IFC Center, New York, July 30, 2010. (In DocuWeeks.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Wade Davis, Antonio Dorado, Gustavo Rojas Pachacuari, Rondon Tanimuca. (English, Spanish, Cubeo dialogue)

More Film

  • Imogen Poots

    'Black Christmas' Star Imogen Poots on Why Male Horror Fans Should See Slasher Remake

    “Black Christmas” is the second remake of the 1974 slasher classic, which centers on a group of sorority sisters stalked by an unknown murderer. While the original had the female protagonists (SPOILER) offed, in this one, the women fight back. “It’s been called a re-imagining of the original, and I think, in ways that the [...]

  • Imogen Poots as Riley in "Black

    'Black Christmas': Film Review

    “Black Christmas,” a low-budget Canadian horror movie released in 1974, was a slasher thriller with a difference: It was the very first one! Okay, there were more than a few precedents, from “Psycho” (the great-granddaddy of the genre) to “The Last House on the Left” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to Mario Bava’s “A [...]

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss. Creators and

    'Game of Thrones' Creators to Develop H.P. Lovecraft Movie at Warner Bros.

    Following their exit from the “Star Wars” universe, “Game of Thrones” co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have found their replacement pic, signing on to produce an untitled thriller based on the graphic novel “Lovecraft” for Warner Bros. It is unknown if they will also direct the project, but they’ve already set Phil Hay and [...]

  • Little Women Greta Gerwig BTS

    Greta Gerwig and 'Little Women' Crew Mix Modern and Classical

    Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Sony’s “Little Women,” a new look at Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved 19th-century classic. Eager to pay tribute to her artisan colleagues, Gerwig says, “It was a joy for me to work with all these people. It’s a movie that’s impossible to create without world-class artists. They killed themselves for me!” [...]

  • Honey Boy

    Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy' Adds Unusual Twist to Oscar's History With Kids

    Hollywood has made many terrific films about childhood, and many about filmmaking. Amazon’s “Honey Boy,” which opened Nov. 8, combines the two: A movie with a child’s POV of the industry. That unique angle could be a real benefit during awards season, and the film’s backstory — with Shia LaBeouf as the main attraction — will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content