Documentary on the life in the Amazon rainforest. About the wisdom and values, that indigenous inhabitants profess and which are contrasting with our so called western civilization.
Genre: Documentary ( Narrative, psychological, spiritual, open minded )
Duration: 72 min
Language: EN and ESP with EN subtitles
Prescreening: 21-23.6. 2018 Beyond Psychedelics 2018 ( Czech Republic )
Producer: Jan Rajnoha
Production: R&T Production s.r.o.
Co-production: KJ Production 21 s.r.o.
Director: Jan Rajnoha
Theme and written by: Jan Rajnoha
Cinematographers: Lubomír Krupka, Jiří Vágner, Jan Rajnoha
Editor: M. Dvořák
Sound: Pevel Neuberger
Dramaturgy, consultation: Věra Krincvajová
Production: Jan Rajnoha
Production assistant / pr: Eva Césarová
Original music by: K. Antoníň
Sound design: Lukáš Tvrdoň
Graphic design: Filip Aura
Outwardly, it may seem that Jan, a young filmmaker, is living a content life, but he’s going through a crushing inner spiritual crisis that changes his perception of the world that does not seem to be such an amazing place anymore. This crisis culminates in sleep paralysis, which is a frightening state when mind is working, but the body is paralyzed. An apparent solution comes when his friend offers him to try an ancient cleansing ritual in South America. During their journey they visit mysterious megalithic buildings on their pilgrimage, and in the Andes, they undergo an ancient Indian ritual called Temazcal. This time Jan meets Augustin, a Kichwan shaman, who invites him to his community settled in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Augustin teaches Jan to see the world from a difference perspective and shows him a different point of view on the nature of plants, which are the bearers of wisdom. Together, they endure a ritual with a mysterious “liana of death” in the form of ayahusca tea. This experience makes Jan’s world fall apart. After his return from the jungle, Jan remains alone with lots of unanswered questions. He tries to turn to professionals while looking for answers to understand what happened in the jungle. His mission is eventually clear – to complete the movie at all costs to pass on his message.
American psychiatrist of Czech origin, Stan Grof M.D., Ph.D. is a psychiatrist, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a researcher of the use of non-ordinary states of consciousness for purposes of exploring, healing, and obtaining growth and insights into the human psyche.
Swiss anthropologist and author of the book The Cosmic Serpent, Dr. Jeremy Narby Ph.D. is an anthropologist and author. In his books, Narby examines shamanism and molecular biology, and shamans’ knowledge of botanics and biology through the use of entheogens across many cultures.
American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, Dennis McKenna, Ph.D is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is a brother of well-known psychedelics proponent Terence McKenna and is a founding board member and a director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.
Czech researcher, physician and lecturer Tomáš Páleníček, M.D., Ph.D. has been employed at National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic (NIHM CR, formerly Prague Psychiatric Centre) since 2001. He started his career as a PhD student in preclinical research, studying the neurobiology of schizophrenia in animal models. Shortly after, he received his first grant funding and extended his research interests towards the neurobiology of psychedelic drugs (e.g., LSD, psilocin, mescaline, 2C-B), entactogens (ecstasy / MDMA) and new synthetic drugs
Quantum Theorist, Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D. is a retired full professor from the University of Oregon’s Department of Physics where he served from 1968 to 1997. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called “science within consciousness,” an idea he explicated in his seminal book, The Self-Aware Universe, where he also solved the quantum measurement problem elucidating the famous observer effect.
The core motifs of this movie are the altered states of consciousness, the Amazonian shamanism, the contrast of our societies and above all the difference in thinking about the fundamental questions on what life, death and the world mean to us. Deep inside the Amazon jungle, cultures live the same way as they did several hundreds or thousands of years ago. Of course, there are many cases where we can observe certain domestication, but in a way these people remained the same. One of the sights that still prevails in these cultures is their point of view on the world and shamanism. From an anthropological perspective, their beliefs are similar to the notion of animism, when these people believe that everything is alive and communicating, and their belief is interlacing with the use of psychoactive plants.
Thanks to the earlier acquaintance with Augustín Grefa, we gained one of the crucial prerequisite necessary for our movie. He was a guarantee to our filmmaking team in his native community and became our guide in the jungle.
The main storyline of the movie follows the journey of Jan. His character is set in the US, more precisely in the city of New York, for several good reasons. On one hand, we believe that this movie has an international overlap (not only) related to the growing interest in these topics, and on the other hand we also wanted to demonstrate the top of our “western” lifestyle that New York actually represents.
Great emphasis is placed on the visual aspect of the movie, therefore we chose the Red Dragon Cinema Camera. Filming in the cities took place without many difficulties. We recorded typical atmosphere of the city and placed the main character into everyday life. We want to show Jan’s world form his own perspective, so we frequently used footage capturing Jan’s back or head overhead.
We traveled to the Amazon to make our first trip in a four-member team to get acquainted with the environment and community. We also filmed our first interviews and top shot footage. We participated in the traditional shamanic rituals and experienced several-days jungle marches. On the second trip we only traveled with a two-members team. The main task was to capture the relationship between Augustin and Jan on a common journey of self-awareness. We worked with a small Sony A7S camera that is not so striking which fulfilled our purpose not to disturb the community. The important announcement and interviews were already filmed at previous shootings, even the top shots. At this stage we decided to capture situations, specifically the interactions between Jan and Agustin, and Jan’s participation in the community. Jan himself took part in daily routines and cleansing ceremonies. Here we went for a classic documentary style. We chose a similar approach for filming the respondents.
The movie demonstrates deep shamanic thoughts and messages through the metaphorical story of the main hero, who set out for finding hidden truth about our lives, our history, and above all about ourselves. The whole movie will be narrated through Jan’s thoughts and feelings that he went through on the road. This kind of narrative gives the viewer the feeling of being part of the whole expedition. In “our world” we work with the editing composition in a faster pace, we use a lot of rumors sound, we try to create an impression of rush and frustration, while the story in the jungle is supposed to be more meditative. We chose a music style film-like Thin Red Line, jungle atmosphere, long sequences for enjoying nature, and a professional sound design to accompany the visionary part.
R&T PRODUCTION s.r.o.
ID. 02146142, ČSA 238/20, 500 03 Hradec Králové