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Press Release

POV: ‘The Song of the Butterflies’ | Press Kit

August 04, 2021

Overview

New York, N.Y. August 4, 2021 – 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. ET (check local listings) and at pov.org. The documentary will also be available to stream for free at pov.org 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.”

Tracing 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.

Spanish

American Documentary | POV se enorgullece en anunciar el estreno en televisión nacional de El canto de las mariposas, el largometraje documental de la cineasta catalana-peruana Núria Frigola Torrent, como parte de la 34a  temporada de POV. Producida por Rolando Toledo, la película se estrena el lunes, 30 de agosto, 2021 en PBS a las 10p.m. ET (consulte la cartelera local) y en pov.org. El documental también estará disponible gratis en línea en pov.org hasta el 29 de octubre de 2021. El canto de las mariposas es el primer largometraje de Frigola Torrent como directora después de producir Hija de la laguna del cineasta Ernesto Cabellos en 2015.  

Ganador del premio al mejor largometraje documental iberoamericano en el Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara del 2020, y una selección oficial en los festivales de Hot Docs, La Habana y Seattle, El canto de las mariposas pone de relieve historias indígenas y procesos de memoria, trauma y curación colectiva en la Amazonía peruana.

Una representación matizada de la vida indígena contemporánea, la ópera prima documental de Frigola Torrent narra la historia de Rember Yahuarcani, un pintor indígena del clan Garza Blanca del pueblo Uitoto del Perú. Rember se fue de casa en búsqueda de una exitosa carrera profesional en Lima, pero al encontrarse en un atolladero creativo, regresa a su comunidad amazónica de Pebas para visitar a su padre, un pintor, y su madre, una escultora. A través de las historias y los sueños de sus padres y su abuela, él afronta los horrores que enfrentó su comunidad como resultado del auge del caucho en Perú, sumergiéndose en el pasado para poder redescubrir su propia creatividad. 

“Nosotros navegamos todas nuestras vidas entre el origen y el mundo, sólo para encontrarnos”, afirma la directora Núria Frigola Torrent. “El canto de las mariposas es una invitación a navegar este viaje y permitir que la audiencia se sumerja en sus propias identidades. También es un ejercicio de memoria colectiva, para recordar lo ocurrido hace cien años a los indígenas de la Amazonía, que aún resuena en la resistencia de sus descendientes como Rember y su familia.”

“Como periodista y productor de cine, sé que las buenas historias pueden cambiar mentalidades, y eso es lo que esperamos hacer con El canto de las mariposas”, afirma el productor Rolando Toledo. “Cuando recibimos la propuesta de producir este documental, inmediatamente dijimos que sí; este proyecto enfrenta de manera directa la realidad intercultural del Perú y toca uno de los episodios más desconocidos de la historia mundial contemporánea: la masacre del caucho. La Amazonía ha estado fuera de la agenda política y social tanto en Perú como a nivel mundial. Si no empezamos a considerar esta zona del planeta como una prioridad, los riesgos son enormes.”

Siguiendo su ruta de regreso a su pueblo natal y posteriormente al lugar de nacimiento de su abuela, ahora separado de la comunidad de sus padres por la actual frontera con Colombia, el documental sigue sigilosamente a Rember a la vez que acepta las atrocidades a las que fueron sometidos sus antepasados a manos de los colonizadores y extractivistas europeos mientras atravesaban la cuenca del Amazonas en busca de caucho a principios del siglo XX. Evocando cosmologías indígenas que centran el papel del mundo natural en la propia experiencia vivida, Rember se comunica tanto con el espíritu de su abuela como con las criaturas del Amazonas para continuar con la tradición de narración visual de su familia—un acto de curación tanto personal como comunitaria.

El canto de las mariposas aborda ingeniosamente la importancia de la memoria colectiva, el legado del trauma, y las relaciones familiares que nos alimentan y nos dan forma incluso más de lo que entendemos. La masacre del caucho y sus secuelas, que se extiende por generaciones, no pueden ignorarse ni olvidarse. Núria Frigola Torrent ha creado un poderoso testimonio con esta película”, afirma Erika Dilday, productora ejecutiva, POV | directora ejecutiva, American Documentary.

El canto de las mariposas es una co-presentación de Latino Public Broadcasting y Vision Maker Media.

Credits

Director/Producer: Núria Frigola Torrent

Producer: Rolando Toledo Vega

Associate Producers: Chela de Ferrari, Ernesto Cabellos Damián, Victoria Arellano, Jamie Villa, Alexandra Álvarez-Araujo

Editor: Nicolé H. Céspedes

Cinematographer: Nicolas Landa

Music: Karin Zielinski

Executive Producers for POV: Erika Dilday, Justine Nagan, and Chris White

Photos

photos

About the Filmmakers

Núria Frigola Torrent – Director

Núria Frigola Torrent is a Catalan and Peruvian filmmaker, producer and actress. After several years working at Amnesty International, she produced the documentary Daughter of The Lake (2015). She acted in the comedy What Couples Do (Antolín Prieto, 2019). She’s recently taken on the role of Executive Director of La Plaza, a Peruvian cultural organization with more than 17 years experience. She holds a degree in Audiovisual Communications and a Masters in Human Development. The Song of The Butterflies (2020) is her first feature as a director.

Rolando Toledo – Producer

Rolando Toledo is a Peruvian economist, journalist and film producer. He runs some of the most important platforms of alternative journalism in Peru, including Lamula.pe, Utero.pe and Poder Magazine, media that has generated advocacy and given voice to networks of activism for more than ten years. His film projects seek to discuss issues of identity and memory. He produced the Peruvian documentary Sigo Siendo, directed by Javier Corcuera, premiered in 2014 in the Festival de Cine de San Sebastián and Song Without a Name, directed by Melina Leon which premiered in Cannes 2019. Rolando is considered one of the most influential journalists in Peru.

About POV

Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise and Minding The Gap and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are broadcast nationally on PBS, POV.org and the PBS Video app.

POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.

POV films and projects have won 42 Emmy Awards, 25 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.

About American Documentary

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Perspective Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, Sage Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.