Documentary Screening and Discussion: “AYA: Awakenings” 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: rakrazam.com.
The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo by Howard G. Charing, Peter Cloudsley, and Pablo Amaringo © 2011 Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. Image used with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.