Who is Maestro Juan Flores Salazar?
Maestro Juan Flores Salazar is an Amazonian healer of the tribe known as the Ashaninka. He comes from a long line of "curanderos" (healers). Since 2001, he has been the director of Mayantuyacu - Centre for the Study of Medicinal Plants. Located far off the beaten path, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon jungle, Mayantuyacu is one part school, one part hospital, where Peruvians and internationals alike can come to learn and heal. Maestro Flores has gained international recognition for his work with conditions ranging from arthritis to cancer. He is prominently featured in anthropologist Jeremy Narby's book Intelligence in Nature, and he was the cover subject of the French edition of National Geographic Magazine for the month of March 2013. His wife Sandra Encalada Guerra is a trained nurse and oversees the administration of Mayantuyacu. They have a daughter, Alexandra, who is 9 years old. As a family, they have traveled throughout South America, Canada and Europe to share their knowledge.
Who are the filmmakers?
Jim Sanders and André Clément have been working on films together since 2002. Their first production was a documentary film entitled Seeds of Change, which focused on the introduction of genetically modified crops on the Canadian prairies. Produced within an academic framework, this controversial film's release was delayed for 3 years by the University of Manitoba for fear of retaliation by the Monsanto Corporation. Since its release on the internet in 2005, Seeds of Change has been downloaded over a million times.
After Seeds of Change, Jim and André produced The Real Thing: Coca, Democracy and Rebellion in Bolivia. This film focused on the rise of the Movement Towards Socialism and its leader, Evo Morales, prior to their political victory and his election as president of Bolivia in 2006. In particular, the film shed light on the real human impacts of the US War on Drugs in the Andean region. The Real Thing has been screened and broadcasted internationally to hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Jim and André originally concentrated on the production of social justice style documentaries, eventually they changed their strategy after meeting Maestro Juan Flores. While they continued to film and document the work of Maestro Flores, they also became very active in the production and dissemination of stories for children. Jim became the artistic director of an international film festival for youth and Andre was the co-host of a national children's television series focused on environmental themes.
What is the story of Tonkiri?
Jim and Andre have been documenting the work and travels of Maestro Flores and the Mayantuyacu community for almost ten years. They have collected a massive amount of footage, eventually realizing that the story is best told in chapters. In many ways, the story has just begun, as the teachings and influence of Maestro Flores begin to reach far beyond his home in the jungles of Peru to all corners of the world.
Tonkiri is the Ashaninkan word for hummingbird, the tiny yet powerful little bird that feeds off the nectar of flowers, spreads pollen and plays an essential role in the flowering and life of a garden. The story of Maestro Flores is the same story as the hummingbird. This is the story of Tonkiri. A story Jim and Andre hope to tell for many years to come.