Why Ancestors’ Stories Cannot Be Forgotten – “The Song of the Butterflies” on POV; August 30 at 10 pm

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The Song of the Butterflies


Monday, August 30 at 10 pm


American Documentary | POV is proud to announce the national broadcast premiere of Catalan-Peruvian filmmaker Núria Frigola Torrent’s debut feature documentary, The Song of the Butterflies (El canto de las mariposas), as part of POV’s 34th season. Produced by Rolando Toledo, the film will premiere Monday, August 30, 2021 on PBS at 10 p.m. and at The documentary will also be available to stream for free at until October 29, 2021. The Song of the Butterflies is Torrent’s first feature as director after producing Peruvian filmmaker Ernesto Cabellos’ Daughter of the Lake in 2015.

Winner of the Best Iberoamerican Film award at the Guadalajara International Film Festival in 2020, and an official selection at the 2020 Havana Film Festival and 2021 Seattle International Film Festival, The Song of the Butterflies spotlights indigenous histories of storytelling and processes of collective memory, trauma, and healing in the Peruvian Amazon.

A nuanced depiction of contemporary indigenous life, Frigola’s debut documentary follows Rember Yahuarcani, an Indigenous painter from the White Heron clan of the Uitoto Nation in Peru. Rember left home to pursue a successful career in Lima, but when he finds himself in a creative rut, he returns home to his Amazonian community of Pebas to visit his father, a painter, and his mother, a sculptor. Through the stories and dreams of his parents and his grandmother, he confronts the horrors his community faced as a result of the rubber boom in Peru, immersing himself in the past so that he can rediscover his own creativity.

“We sail all our lives between the origin and the world, just to find ourselves” said director Nuria Frigola Torrent. “The Song of the Butterflies is an invitation to navigate this journey and allow the audience to plunge into their own identities. It’s also an exercise in collective memory, to remember what happened one hundred years ago to the indigenous people from Amazonia, which is still echoing in the resistance of their descendants like Rember and his family.”

“As a journalist and film producer, I know that good stories can change minds, and that’s what we hope to do with The Song of the Butterflies,” said producer Rolando Toledo. “When we received the proposal to produce this documentary, we immediately said yes; this project directly faces the intercultural reality of Peru and touches upon one of most unknown episodes in contemporary world history: the rubber massacre. The Amazon has been out of the political and social agenda both in Peru and globally. If we don’t start considering this area of the planet as a priority, the risks are enormous.”

painter working on art on floor of rustic cabinTracing his route back to his home village and then on to his grandmother’s place of birth, now separated from his parents’ community by the border of present-day Colombia, the documentary quietly follows as Rember comes to terms with the atrocities to which his ancestors were subjected at the hands of European colonizers and extractivists as they tore through the Amazon basin in search of rubber at the turn of the 20th century. Evoking indigenous cosmologies that center the role of the natural world in one’s lived experience, Rember communes with both the spirit of his grandmother and the creatures of the Amazon to carry on his family’s tradition of visual storytelling — an act of both personal and communal healing.

The Song of the Butterflies artfully addresses the importance of collective memory, the legacy of trauma and the family relationships that fuel and shape us even more than we understand. The rubber massacre and its aftermath, which spans generations, can not be ignored or forgotten. Núria Frigola Torren has created a powerful testimonial with this film,” said Erika Dilda, executive producer, POV | executive director, American Documentary.

The Song of the Butterflies is a co-presentation of Latino Public Broadcasting and Vision Maker Media.