Directed by Rak Razam and Tim Parish
90 minutes, forthcoming 2013
Discussion with Rak Razam
Synopsis: AYA: Awakenings is a narrative documentary into the world and visions of ayahuasca shamanism, adapted from the cult book 'Aya: a Shamanic Odyssey' by Rak Razam. As Razam sets out to document the booming business of Amazonian shamanism in the 21st century, he quickly finds himself caught up in a culture clash between the old world and the new. Braving a gringo trail of the soul, he uncovers a movement of ‘spiritual tourists’ coming from the West for a direct experience of the multi-dimensional reality shamanism connects one to. Central to this is ayahuasca – the “vine of souls” – a legal South American hallucinogenic plant that has been used by Amazonian people for millennia to heal physical ailments and to cleanse and purify the spirit, connecting it to the web of life. In researching the mystery of ayahuasca, Razam undergoes his own shamanic initiation, undergoing numerous tests and trials in the jungle and the psychic landscapes the vine reveals. On the way he encounters a motley crew of characters, from rogue scientists that conduct DMT-brain scans on jungle psychonauts to indigenous and Western shamans that slowly unravel his cultured mind and reveal the magical landscape of the spirit world. And the more he drinks this potent jungle medicine the deeper it leads him: from the wet jungle where the ayahuasca vine grows and on into the raging heart of consciousness itself. By blending narration directly from the book with video footage, interviews with practicing curanderos, samples of traditional icaros or magic songs, photographs and cutting edge special effects, Aya: Awakenings reproduces the inner landscape of the visionary state in unprecedented detail, invoking a spiritual awakening in the viewer. Featuring the artwork of Pablo Amaringo, Andy Debrenardi and more; video editing by Verb Studios, soundscapes by DJ Buttons Touching and music by Tipper; Darpan, Lula Cruz, Sphongle and curanderos Guillermo Aravelo, Percy Garcia Lozano, Ron Wheelock and Kevin Furnas.
Rak Razam is an author, prolific media maker and networker. He wrote the book Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey and the companion volume of interviews, The Ayahuasca Sessions. He is a frequent lecturer on ayahuasca and the shamanic revival sweeping the West, and is the co-director with Tim Parish for the forthcoming Aya: Awakenings documentary. He was also interviewed and appears in the CBS (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s) 2007 audio documentary In Search of the Divine Vegetal talking about his ayahuaca experiences. His video interviews for website Reality Sandwich, New MAPS of Hyperspace, feature Sasha Shulgin, Alex Grey, Stan Grof, Rick Doblin, Ralph Metzner, Mountain Girl, and more luminaries. His popular podcast show In a Perfect World has featured Dennis McKenna, Mitch Schultz (DMT: The Spirit Molecule), Stephan Beyer (Singing to the Plants), Darpan, James Oroc (Tryptamine Palace) and dozens more. For more information, see: http://rakrazam.com
Experience BWITI: Renascence of the Healed
Film and discussion with Benjamin De Loenen
This new documentary gives a profound insight into the initiation process of the Mabandji women's cult of the Bwiti religion in Gabon, Central West Africa. The root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga bush, containing around twelve active alkaloids of which Ibogaine is the most known, is ingested to initiate a death-rebirth experience that is a five day happening. This 40 minute documentary shows the whole process with an explanatory voice over. The film is followed by a Q&A with the director.
As a film student, Benjamin De Loenen graduated at the Utrecht School of the Arts in the Netherlands with his documentary ‘Ibogaine-Rite of Passage’ (2004). This film project led him to give many lectures and film presentations all over the world and dedicating himself to the Ibogaine community. In 2006 he got interested in the Amazonian ethnobotanical decoction 'Ayahuasca', about which he is currently making a documentary. Meanwhile, his work as documentary and television editor and training in the field of grassroots distribution set the technical and conceptual basis for a non-profit organization he founded in 2009 in the Netherlands called ICEERS (the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service - http://www.iceers.org), which he currently serves as executive director. Since 2006 he is also active in the KosmiCare project (psychedelic emergency service) at Boom Festival.
AYAHUASCA - Persecution of an Ancestral Culture
Film clip and discussion with Benjamin De Loenen
At the end of 2009, Rumi and Danae, of the center 'Manto Wasi' in Santiago de Chile were arrested during an ayahuasca session by a SWAT team of the national police. This was the beginning of a legal battle... The ICEERS Foundation collaborated with a conference in Chile about ayahuasca, and the defense of the case. This process was documented as part of a documentary project in progress about the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in contemporary society. With the involvement of lawyers, ayahuasca experts, participants of the sessions and all other supporters, they won the case historically... This presentation will show a trailer on the case Manto Wasi, and provide more insight into this case.
Travel to San Francisco after the last talk on Friday to see a screening of the Swiss documentary about the discovery of LSD, and an update on current research by Psychedelic Science Presenters Franz Vollenweider and Dave Nichols. Friday 19 April, 2013 • 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM • 730 Montgomery Street, San Francisco.
The Holy Give Me
A work in progress
Directed by Maxi Cohen
Film and Q&A with director Maxi Cohen
Since 1998, church members of Santo Daime and União do Vegetal, Brazilian syncretic religions that brew and drink the sacrament ayahuasca, have been arrested in the United States, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Ireland, and England. Misinformation in Western nations has led to the classification of ayahuasca as a destructive, hard drug. Ironically, ayahuasca has been known to cure heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and other substance addictions.
Critically-acclaimed filmmaker Maxi Cohen, distressed that people were being persecuted for something that could do such good, began to ask these questions and search for the truth. If people were being healed of everything from dyslexia to terminal cancer, making years of psychoanalytic progress in a single session--and were experiencing these miracles within the context of a legal church in Brazil--why should this elixir that facilitates communion with the Divine be worthy of punishment by numerous governments? What impact do the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest have on a modern world that seeks to burn the last untouched gifts of the earth?
Maxi Cohen is an independent filmmaker, video artist and photographer. Her documentary films have played internationally, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, and other museums around the world. Her films have been cited for being ground breaking in form and content, beginning with the theatrically released film she made about her relationship with her father, “Joe and Maxi.” In “South Central LA: Inside Voices” (Showtime), Maxi gave cameras to African-Americans, Latinos, and Koreans who lived in the areas of the LA Riots to better understand racism from the inside out. She has made films for Saturday Night Live, Fox, Comedy Central, and public television.
Science and Sacraments: Psychedelic Research and Mystical Experiences
Coleen LeDrew Elgin
Meet Frances Vaughan, who in 1965 took part in a legal research study on psychedelics. Under carefully controlled conditions, she was given a large dose of LSD and had a profound mystical experience that changed her life. Meet James Fadiman, one of the researchers who sat with her on that journey, and who had experienced his own life-changing laboratory-induced mystical journey. These stories and others offer insights into the fascinating history of psychedelic research and its relationship to mystical experiences. This film explores the research done by early pioneers, such as Albert Hofmann, Stanislav Grof, and Timothy Leary; the subsequent shutdown by the government; and the current renaissance of research on the potential of psychedelics to enhance creativity, support cancer patients, and catalyze spiritual awakening. This documentary was commissioned by the Betsy Gordon Foundation for the Psychoactive Substances Research Collection at the Purdue University Libraries Archives. Directed by Coleen LeDrew Elgin. For more information see: ScienceandSacraments.com
Coleen LeDrew Elgin, M.A., is a documentary filmmaker and video producer whose work focuses on consciousness, healing, and spiritual growth. She was commissioned by the Betsy Gordon Foundation to produce and direct the documentary: Science and Sacraments: Psychedelic Research and Mystical Experiences (2012). Coleen is currently producing and directing a documentary about students in an intensive six-year spiritual practice program. Her company, Elgin Productions, is a collaborative venture that brings talented professionals together to create documentaries and life stories that awaken and inspire.
Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicine
Directed by Oliver Hockenhull
Film and discussion with producers Mikki Willis and Giancarlo Canavesio.
Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines is a richly-illustrated feature documentary poised to tap into a phenomenon only recently and superficially explored in mainstream media. Through interviews with leading psychologists and scientists, the film explores the history of five powerful psychedelic substances (LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, and cannabis) and their previously established medicinal potential. Strictly focusing on the science and medicinal properties of these drugs, Neurons to Nirvana looks into why our society has created such a social and political bias against even allowing research to continue the exploration of any possible positive effects they can present in treating some of today's most challenging afflictions.
For the first time in two generations, the use of these drugs is not being presented as harmful or as self-indulgent, but as a rational and valuable addition to therapeutic practice. Several well-respected researchers are conducting clinical trials to treat a range of afflictions: PTSD, addictions, and the psychological stresses suffered by late-stage terminal cancer patients. The initial results of all these studies are remarkable. The story extends beyond these trials however. Clients of licensed therapists are using psychedelics not as escape routes or addictive crutches, but in a quest for transformation, mental health, creativity, intellectual and spiritual enhancement, and insight.
Neurons to Nirvana explores the promise of these brave new advances in psychopharmacology and neuroscience, guiding the viewer in a thought-provoking journey, led by those determined to hold open the doors of perception.
Directed by Nicholas Polizzi
Film and Discussion with Roman Hanis and Cynthia Robinson of Paititi Institute where Sacred Science was filmed.
Eight people. Eight illnesses. One journey into the heart of the Amazon jungle. They went looking for alternatives to the modern medicines that failed them. What they found would change their lives forever.
Nick Polizzi has spent the past six years directing and editing feature-length documentaries about holistic alternatives to conventional medicine. Most recently, Nick directed “The Tapping Solution" and co-edited "Simply Raw - Raw for 30 Days". His current role as producer of The Sacred Science stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.
Confessions of an Ecstasy Advocate
30 minute film followed by discussion
Produced by Tom Huckabee and George Wada
presented by The Starck Project
featuring Lorenzo Hagerty
The founder of the Psychedelic Salon and Palenque Norte charts his spiritual journey from flag-waving, devout Catholic businessman to radical flower child and small “a” anarchist, an obsessive 30-year adventure instigated by an accidental triple dose of pharmaceutical MDMA in 1983.
Breaking the Taboo
Film and Discussion with Director Cosmo Feilding Mellen
Presented by the Beckley Foundation
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this groundbreaking new documentary uncovers the UN-sanctioned war on drugs, charting its origins and its devastating impact on countries like the US, Colombia, and Russia. Featuring prominent statesmen including Presidents Clinton and Carter, the film follows The Global Commission on Drug Policy on a mission to break the political taboo and expose the biggest failure of global policy in the last 50 years.