Originally appearing here.
Gathered at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, last Saturday evening, were more than 1,000 people from all walks of life from Burning Man regulars to medical researchers and shamans. There was an electric pulse of energy as the 913 seat theater buzzed with conversation and speculation in the moments before the premier of Neurons to Nirvana a documentary on understanding psychedelic medicines. Following the premier leading medical doctors and experts appearing throughout the movie spoke in detail about the Understanding-Psydellic-Medicines-smallerpossible benefits and concerns associated with the use of these compounds.
They believe psychedelic medicines have the power to relieve pain, suffering and symptoms related to cancer pain, mental illnesses, Attention Deficit Disorder and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This exploration also delves into multidimensional quantum physics, ancient indigenous shamanism, a short history on psychedelics and the politics involved. The film highlights the obstacles researchers in this field face. In the past pharmaceuticals companies and politicians have been very active in preventing the exploration of alternative medicines. Now that tide is beginning to turn, will the future of modern medicine accept these highly controversial alternatives as viable solutions? I had the unique opportunity to join Giancarlo Canavesio founder and CEO of Mangusta Productions at his home in Tribeca following the premier to discuss the concepts presented in his film.
Q: Do you refer to yourself as a Film Maker? Are you involved with any other entrepreneurial, charitable or personal activities that you would like to share?
A: I refer to myself more as an entrepreneur than a filmmaker but I love to develop and produce cutting edge movies. I truly adore it. I am a shareholder of Mangusta Risk, a risk management company I founded in London in 2000, of Halldis, an international short term rent company and Evolver, an online platform serving up content, learning, and commerce for the transformative cultural community. Also I’m a board member of the Rainforest Foundation and I support MAPS Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
Q: Please expand on the mission of Mangusta films and what’s the background on the origination of the word Mangu?
A: Mangusta means Mongoose in Italian and like that intelligent and brave little rodent we like to explore and are very curious about controversial and innovative ideas and characters.
Q: This film criticizes corporate pharma for the embargo placed on the exploration of psychedelics. Do you see this as a problem induced by mostly by the practice of capitalism or politics? Or are capitalism and politics one-in-the-same?
A: I don’t completely agree that pharmaceutical companies placed the embargo. I trust Rick Doblin’s, founder of MAPS, view that the pharmaceutical companies actually are open to find a way to monetize the legalization for medical use of these compounds. Capitalism and politics are too much intertwined today but as the expansion of consciousness continues that incestuous relationship should subside.
Q: Looking forward, what topics will you be exploring in future documentaries? Are there other serious obstacles to human advancement that you feel are important to call attention to?
A: We are in postproduction and will be releasing in the spring a documentary tentatively called Monogamy and its Discontent by Tao Ruspoli about sex, love and marriage. We are in the final stage of production on a documentary called Bruce Parry’s Quest by Bruce Parry and Mark Ellam. It’s about connectivity from 3 perspectives: Western Science, Eastern Philosophy and Indigenous Wisdom. We will also be licensing other filmmakers’ films that we believe fit with our slate and we’re developing several projects on Tantric Sex, Power Control and Freedom, a Timothy Leary piece and a ghost story set in the mountains of Ojai, California. The main obstacle to human advancement is the identification with the ego mind. I am optimistic, because meditation is a legal technique to address that problem and is becoming really popular. In 1983, there had been only 3 peer-reviewed scientific studies of meditation; by 2013, there are more than 1,300.
Q: Speaking of obstacles, as a entrepreneur filmmaker that advocates freedom of information. What are the major challenges from an economic standpoint you face when making films like this one? And what are your thoughts on piracy in the film industry?
A: The internet has brought us a great new paradigm of direct access to our customers. Margins are very small but we believe that if we stay true to ourselves and continue to have a true emotional attachment to our content the customers will reward us.
Q: Is demand for this type of content a profitable business? Describe your audience, who are they?
A: It’s not really profitable today, but what is niche today can be mainstream tomorrow. My friends at Evolver call them the transformative cultural community. Marketers call them LOHAS or lifestyle of health and sustainability and I call them smart people.
Q: Getting back to the subject of this documentary, what are the major differences between the current resurgence in psychedelic experimentation and what was happening in America during the 1960’s? From a socio-political point of reference, do you think politics and public opinion can change regarding this type of exploration in medicine?
A: The main difference is that in the 60’s nobody knew about these altered states, it was a new exploration that too often became drug abuse, but it still changed the world forever. Today we know about the importance of the leader or guide, the psychological set, the cultural setting, the intentions and the integration. I think public opinion is already changing. Close to 1000 people showing up in the theatre tonight proves that, now that the materialistic, consumer-centric and individualistic American Dream is losing its sparkles there is a growing demand for meaning. On disruptive modality like psychedelic medicines politics always lags behind public opinion, but it will catch up. It is irreversible now.
Q: Personal question, at what point did you realize that making films like this one was your path in life. Are there any other philosophical tangents you are currently delving into? And who are the people that inspired you the most along this path?
A: My fiancee introduced me to Ayahuasca in a peniche, which means a house boat in French, while in Paris during 2007. That was the beginning of a beautiful journey of self discovery. I am extremely interested in mindfulness; I really think the secret of life is to learn to be 100 percent in the present moment. Robert Thurman, Eckart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Stan Grof are among other important influences along the way as well.
OracleTalk interviews Giancarlo Canavesio about Neurons to Nirvana, his newest documentary about how scientists are studying the medical benefits of various psychedelics and getting exciting results. While speaking about charitable and personal activities, Canavesio talks about why he supports MAPS and reflects on the vision of MAPS Founder Rick Doblin.