The healthcare debate between medicines formulated in a lab and grown from the ground rages on in Chris Keener’s documentary short, The Fungal Fortunes of William Padilla-Brown. Is nature more effective in curing our ailments compared to the pharmaceutical-industrial complex?
The subject of the film, of course, is the titular William Padilla-Brown. He describes himself as a “Multidisciplinary Citizen Scientist,” which is basically a person with a wealth of knowledge but no college degree. His modern-day hippie appearance is also a dead giveaway.
Padilla-Brown is a self-taught expert on mushrooms extolling the medicinal and environmental virtues of the fungus. Like a bird watcher, he can walk through any forest and identify thousands of species and state all of their properties, including whether it’s edible or poisonous. The film starts by profiling Padilla-Brown and his love of nature, which was born in high school, and from there, his passions grew to create his homegrown mushroom business. The bulk of the short follows Padilla-Brown traveling to Puerto Rico in hopes of discovering new forms of mushrooms and studying their spores in his surprisingly elaborate lab.
“…a self-taught expert on mushrooms extolling the medicinal and environmental virtues of the fungus.”
If I had a complaint about The Fungal Fortunes of William Padilla-Brown, it is that I wanted to see more mushrooms as a fan of the beauty of nature, but I’m sure this was out of the Keener’s hands. Along with capturing on-the-ground footage of Brown, the film also includes video footage from the subject’s YouTube channel, which means the quality of the images varies in resolution and screen size based on the source. I would have loved to see the entire documentary in HD or 4K, but as it stands, it’s a mixed bag of video quality.
But The Fungal Fortunes of William Padilla-Brown is all about the slightly eccentric and avid partaker of mushrooms William Padilla-Brown, and that’s good enough for me. His charisma and enthusiasm are undeniable and, quite frankly, infectious. At the same time, I’m taken aback by his use of very large (some might say made-up) words and phrases. “Cultural normalcy,” “Micro-literate,” and “Micrological” slip easily from the man’s tongue into his passionate prose designed to educate and bring awareness to the powers of not only healing our bodies but the environment as well.
For more information about The Fungal Fortunes of William Padilla-Brown, visit the MUD/WTR website.
"…designed to educate and bring awareness to the powers of not only healing our bodies but the environment as well."