(54 minutes) Suriname/USA
Producer: Abigail Wright
For more than twenty years Dr. Mark Plotkin
has searched the Amazon for plants that heal. He is an ethnobotanist,
a scientist who studies the relationship between indigenous people
and plants. He set out on a mission to find a cure for diabetes,
a disease that killed both of his grandmothers. The Shaman's
Apprentice charts the story of Mark's discoveries, and looks
at the astonishing ability of native people to manage their environment.
People of the forest have become sophisticated chemists by necessity,
utilizing plants for every aspect of their lives. Often, the entire
knowledge of a tribe resides in the mind of the shamanthe
tribe's doctor and spiritual leader. But the shamans are also the
most endangered species in the Amazon. Marooned in time by the loss
of traditional ways, many of the native healers have no apprentices.
Most are old, and each shaman's death is a kind of extinction. It
is these shamans that Mark seeks out, hoping to save their precious
knowledge, for it may be vital to the world's future.
Miranda Smith is president of Miranda Productions,
Inc. She directed and produced The Shaman's Apprentice, and
she produced, directed, and co-wrote the 1997 documentary on coral
reefs, Canary of the Ocean. For My Father's Garden,
Miranda executive produced and directed, and narrated the home movie
segments of the film. She directed and produced Wilderness: The
Last Stand and Voice of the Amazon, about the destruction
of forests in the Americas. She wrote, produced, and narrated the
16mm film Cowboys' Claim and has produced theatre for New
York's Off-Broadway. With Realis Pictures, Miranda co-produced a
three-film series on the Brazilian rain forest: Amazon Journal,
Contact, and The Journey of Chief Wai-Wai.
John Hoskyns-Abrahall, President
P.O. Box 149
Oley, PA 19547