DIRECTOR: EMILY COHEN IBAÑEZ
Orquídea is a kaleidoscopic tale of the political and ecological life of orchids in Colombia. The story is told through people who care for orchids in the jungle and the orchid’s perspective itself.
In Colombia’s Amazonian region of Caqueta, the FARC, a leftist guerilla group trying to overthrow state power since 1964, protected the jungle to hide under its canopy of trees. In 2016, they signed a peace treaty. Paramilitary groups and narcotraffickers took over the jungle. Within 6 years, 40% of Caqueta’s Amazonian jungle has been deforested. But a ray of hope gleans. In 2018, Colombia’s Supreme Court passed a law that grants the country’s jungle and rivers legal personhood. In 2022 the Colombian people elected Gustavo Petro, its first leftist president with an environmental agenda. Yet deforestation continues on a massive scale in a politically volatile country.
Enter an ethnographically surreal world located in the Colombian Amazonian jungle. Orquídea is a kaleidoscopic tale of the political and ecological life of orchids in Colombia, a country with the widest variety of orchids on the planet. This is the story of a fragile flower, the orchid, struggling to survive; Colombian and international people must work together to save it. Will they succeed?
In Orquídea, the lead character is Colombia’s national flower, the orchid, providing a window into late modern capitalism and its roots in colonial exploration of the Americas. As one of the ecosystem’s best bio-indicators, the orchid is a stand-in for life itself on earth. The orchid is intersex, a non-binary life form that has diversified more than any other in the plant kingdom. The orchid encounters an unlikely crew of conservationists from peasant farmers to biology students to ex-combatants of Colombia’s decades long war. They all dream of restoring peace and ecological sustainability in the jungle through saving the biodiversity of orchids. How will the orchid respond to their dreams? Will the humans be able to cooperate to save the biodiversity of the orchid, the jungle, and the planet?
Stunningly cinematic verité captures in-the-moment dialogue and disputes betweenthe humans as they work with orchids. As protagonist, the orchid narrates encounters with humans who both help and endanger their quest to survive.
I have over a decade experience, conducting anthropological fieldwork and filmmaking in Colombia.
Prior to that, I spent my summers as a child visiting my large extended family on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. My grandmother was a fantastic storyteller. Through her stories, I learned about Colombian rural life and aspects of the war as it developed over decades. She told me about being the first woman in her town to wear red nail polish and how she was excommunicated from the church after she rode a horse like a man. There were sad stories too. Like when an armed right-wing group threatened my grandfather with murder on his small ranch. My family left and moved to Barranquilla, a large city on the Caribbean coast.
With a family legacy of escaping violence from Aleppo, Syria, to the civil unrest in Colombia, I am attuned to what it means to feel uprooted. As an avid gardener, I find healing in nature and growing plants. I also understand the colonial histories of mass producing sugarcane, cotton, and rice; slavery and sharecropping informs the continual exploitation of farmworkers today. My first feature, FRUITS OF LABOR is about a teenage farmworker. It had its world premiere at SXSW and national broadcast on PBS POV in 2021.
VOTING OPENS THURSDAY, APRIL 27 • 10AM PT
VOTING CLOSES THURSDAY, MAY 11 • MIDNIGHT PT
WINNERS ANNOUNCED SUNDAY, MAY 14
|LANGUAGE:||Spanish, English (with English subtitles)|
|START OF PRODUCTION:||June 2022|
|EXPECTED DELIVERY:||January 2025|
|SHOOTING FORMAT:||ARRI 4K|
|PRODUCTION COMPANY:||Orquídea, LLC / Reversa Films|
|PRODUCTION COUNTRY:||United States|
|CONFIRMED PARTNERS:||Executive Producers Julie Parker Benello, Secret Sauce, LLC & Russell Long|
|CURRENT PROJECT STATUS:||By the end of April, we will be in production, editing alongside production.|
EMILY COHEN IBAÑEZ
WRITER / DIRECTOR
Emily Cohen Ibañez is a Colombian-American filmmaker based in Oakland who earned her doctorate in Anthropology (2011) at New York University. Her film work pairs lyricism with social activism, advocating for labor, environmental, and health justice. Her award winning feature documentary, FRUITS OF LABOR had its World Premiere at SXSW 2021 and broadcast on PBS POV | American Documentary.
Sara Dosa is an Indie Spirit Award-nominated director and Peabody award-winning producer whose interests lay in telling character-driven stories about the human relationship to ecology and economy. Her most recent project, FIRE OF LOVE, premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2022, acquired by National Geographic, and is nominated for the Oscars in Best Documentary category.