Filmmaker aims for ‘global medicine cabinet’

A Dongba Shaman of the Naxi tribe in southwest China is one of the many representations of healing worldwide in the documentary film “Talking Story,” which will play Saturday only at the Back Space Theatre. Screenings will take place at 3 and 7 p.m. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Marie-Rose Phan-Le

A Dongba Shaman of the Naxi tribe in southwest China is one of the many representations of healing worldwide in the documentary film “Talking Story,” which will play Saturday only at the Back Space Theatre. Screenings will take place at 3 and 7 p.m.

Durangoans will share in the many methods of healing around the world when the Back Space Theatre hosts a one-night-only screening of “Talking Story” on Saturday night.

The documentary was written, produced and directed by Marie-Rose Phan-Le, who was born in Vietnam during the war, escaped to France and moved to the United States at age 6.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Phan-Le said earlier this week on KDUR-FM’s Four Corners Arts Forum. “The sense of loss, need to move forward, different foods, languages and ideas. I’ve lived many places in the U.S., too, and moving around with all those cultures has really served me.”

The film is part of the Healing Planet Project, which is dedicated to cultural preservation with an emphasis on the healing arts and spiritual traditions of cultures around the world through media and education. The project’s goal is to use and create “media as medicine,” and “Talking Story” is the first major companion project to Healing Planet.

Phan-Le started work on the film 11 years ago, before Healing Planet came to be, and the film meshes perfectly with the mission.

“The most rewarding thing I’ve found is that the knowledge is useful and those ancient traditions are being utilized,” Phan-Le said. “This isn’t about the exotic ‘other’ and their traditions, but rather that we have a global medicine cabinet, and it can be shared more effectively.”

There are few corners of the world that escaped Phan-Le’s lens, from inner cities of the U.S. to the peaks of the Himalayas. Phan-Le, who considers herself a spiritual being, kept finding real connections between her own experiences and kindred spirits in a variety of cultures. She also saw a need for conservation and preservation of those shared values.

“I found out many of these traditions were in danger of disappearing,” she said. “One of my biggest struggles was, is it my story or their story? But I found that it’s our story. That’s what I’m hoping will happen when people see the film. Those are the old ways, here are the new ways. Now, let’s make an even newer way.”

Phan-Le said she has friends here in Durango who made the arrangements for her visit. The connections that bring her here are just one more real-life example of the larger connectivity exhibited in the film.

“They’ve been very supportive of the work and are practitioners of growing their own consciousness,” Phan-Le said. “I feel very welcomed and supported in Durango.”

ted@durangoherald.com