Water tells us who we are and where we need to go…we just need to learn its language and listen. This experimental documentary explores a journey through a paradigm shift as we explore how it is possible to communicate with rivers and to heal our relationships with them, with each other, and with ourselves to transform our societies.

When the Rivers Speak

by UnionDocs

  • $10,000.00

  • $1,040.00

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This experimental documentary follows our journey as we reconnect with ways humans can communicate with rivers and investigate how we may transform ourselves, our communities, and our societies through deep listening to rivers and each other. 

The driving force behind this effort to reconnect with dialogues between humans and rivers is exploring and inspiring societal pathways to repair relationships between us and other beings of nature so we may move away from extractivist societies to more caring and reciprocal connections. Listening is foundational in this. As we all understand from our human relations—there cannot be good relationships without good communication. Our exploration seeks to catalyze people to act to heal their own relationships with water bodies and to work together to imagine and construct regenerative worlds. 

Central to the documentary are the questions: How may we listen to and understand the messages of rivers? How may communicating with rivers shape us and our communities and guide us in creating sustainable and equitable societies? 

To explore answers to these questions, we travel to the lands where we (the directors) were born, The Colombian Andes and Pennsylvania, and reconnect with the rivers we grew up with, the Rio Yuma/ Magdalena River and the Lenapewihittuk/Delaware River. 

Following the path of these rivers, our journey so far has crossed with the journeys of Uma Shelley DePaul, her son Adam Waterbear DePaul, Stone-Bear Acevedo, and many more from the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania who are building networks of care, cultural revitalization, and connection with each other through their connection with the Delaware River. As the next stage in the production of this experimental film, we plan to travel to the Colombian Andes to listen to our grandmothers and navigate The Rio Yuma/Magdalena with our friends from the Musica Nation, who are reviving native languages and revitalizing care-based ways of relating to rivers and land. 

Connecting in the ocean is the destination of all rivers —following this wisdom, we aim to help bridge connections as we develop this film in collaboration with the Lenape, the Muisca, and the many people learning from rivers and caring for them. Everyone who is participating in the creation and distribution of this film, we invite to be part of this ‘shared ocean’ of societal transformation fueled by the will to listen to the rivers and all other beings we coexist with and take actions to restore and maintain reciprocal, caring relationships with them. 


In July of 2023, we had our first film shoot with Uma Shelley and Adam DePaul, along with additional community members of the Lenape Nation in Pennsylvania. We gathered, shared stories, and journeyed through a stretch of the Delaware River together. With the footage from this journey, we created the first teaser trailer for this project. During the shoot, we experienced how many deep conversations and relationships were formed by our time on and with the river, and this helped us realize that the rivers are showing us the story of this film. It is the voice of the river, and the places and people that the river takes us to that will guide the development of this film. 

Filming in Colombia and nurturing relationships with the Rio Yuma/ Magdalena River and people who speak its language is our next step. We are planning to travel to Colombia in August of 2024, and are currently fundraising for this next step, so we can travel with our crew to listen to the river and film our experiences. Simultaneously, we will be recording audio and capturing visuals of rivers in NYC to tie in our own journey and relationship to rivers through this filmmaking process. We additionally will be fostering relationships and setting up interviews with people working on nature communications and rights of nature movements.

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: @WhentheRiversSpeak   

Facebook: When the Rivers Speak 




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

2 backers


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

4 backers


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

2 backers


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.

2 backers


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.

0 backers
Name Donate Amount Date
Elisabeth Bass $100.00 July 14, 2024
Mary Haughney $50.00 July 04, 2024
Lauren Butler $15.00 July 01, 2024
Mishal Haq $50.00 June 27, 2024
Linda Girdner $10.00 June 23, 2024
Annie Borema $25.00 June 23, 2024
Adam DePaul $50.00 June 14, 2024
Adam DePaul $250.00 June 14, 2024
Shannon Heimbach Ferrara $250.00 June 12, 2024
Regine Tollefsen $10.00 June 12, 2024
Alex Sgobbo $5.00 May 23, 2024
Samuel Port $150.00 May 23, 2024
Lucy Phillips $50.00 May 22, 2024
Amir Husak $25.00 April 15, 2024