two hands clasped in black and white with veins highlighted in grey and red

If we listen, the water is telling us where to go. This experimental documentary explores a journey through a paradigm shift as indigenous peoples in Lenapehoking (Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and the Macizo Colombiano (Colombia) communicate with the rivers around them.

When the Rivers Speak

by UnionDocs

  • $15,000.00

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Synopsis: When the Rivers Speak focuses on the stories of Grandmother Shelley DePaul and her son Adam DePaul from the Lenape Nation (Pennsylvania and New Jersey); and Phuyu Uma and Eyder from the Yanakuna Nation (Colombia). Their stories are tied by the dialogues they maintain with the rivers of their territories, the Lenapewihittuk/Delaware River and the Rio Yuma/ Magdalena River; and with each other, as all waters of the world are connected. For all of the humans in this film, listening and communicating with rivers has unlocked the door to remembering who they are, where they come from, and how to live lives that serve the shared existence of all beings of earth. Their communication with rivers is also a key component of their ongoing efforts to resist extractivist mining and industrial projects that threaten the health of the rivers and ecosystems around them. In their stories, we hear the roaring echo of indigenous resurgence movements that are growing and strengthening across the continent: people are listening to the living beings around them and remembering/reclaiming the identities and knowledge that were stolen from them but were never erased. Like rivers moving steadily toward the ocean, where they meet the waters carried there by other rivers, these efforts are joining in the ‘shared ocean’ of transnational solidarity and societal transformation.

Timeline: We have our first shoot with the Lenape collaborators at the end of July during which we will be recording experiences with the community on the river as well as around a campfire discussing the importance of water in Lenape tradition. Throughout the summer in New York City we will also be shooting experimental water imagery in addition to recording interviews with experts in the field of water management and activism. As we collect footage over the summer, we will begin editing so as to have a picture-locked film by early summer 2024. That way we can finish post production over the summer to have the film ready for community screenings and festival submissions by the fall 2024.

ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. A greater portion of your donation goes to the filmmakers if you mail a check to UnionDocs with “WHEN THE RIVER SPEAK” in the memo line.
The address is:
352 Onderdonk Ave.
Ridgewood NY, 11385

If you are interested in financially supporting us as a producer, reach out and we can share the amount options and corresponding producer credits we have available.

 Visit the When the Rivers Speak Website


Find the filmmakers Kayla Franklin and Maria F. Pulido-Velosa on Instagram at  @kayla.franklin.900 and @mar.pulidov




Personalized Playlist - This will include music and meditations relating to water.

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Newsletter Updates - This will include monthly updates with behind-the-scenes footage, pictures, and clips of edit drafts.

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4k downloadable link of the finished film - This will also include a link to the personalized playlist and Newsletter Updates.

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Invite to the premiere in NYC - This will include complimentary tickets to the premiere screening of the film in addition to the opportunity to meet some of the cast and crew. This will also include a link to the personalized playlist, Newsletter Updates, and a 4k downloadable link of the finished film.

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Special Thanks in the credits - We will include your name in the closing credits under the title “This film was made possible with the support of”. This will also include a link to the personalized playlist, Newsletter Updates, a 4k downloadable link of the finished film, and an invite to the premiere.

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