By: Steve V. Rodriguez @progressivepuls
Having a close friend who knows firsthand what the amazonian brew, Ayahuasca is, how it’s taken, his experience and for what purposes really intrigued my interest when I heard about the Tribeca Film premiere of “Icaras: A Vision”. In it a woman (Ana Cecilia Stieglitz) travels to Peru seeking the benefits of Ayahuasca given that she is dealing with a deadly cancer. After registering into a retreat like camp in the amazon, Angelina meets other camp dwellers seeking the same clarity that the brew elicits, as well as shamanic tribesmen who administer the drug. The brew is administered at night in a campfire-like setting and those taking it are encouraged to have individual solo experiences. Hallucinogenic experiences can occur as well as deep seated fears can surface as a way to confront and heal.
The film mixes in elements of reality. Set in an actual Ayahuasca retreat in Peru, it features real shamans and indigenous non-actors from the Shipibo community, mixed in with western actors. Aspects of the film are based on co-director Leonor Caraballo’s true experiences. She had metastatic breast cancer when the shoot began. Although she dedicated herself to the project until the very end, sadly she died before she could see the film finished.
The film is also driven by the conviction that acknowledging the power of plants is the best way to change the jeopardized future of the Amazon – itself like a dying patient. The exploitation of Shipibo lands and communities by oil and timber companies continues. Over the next 20 years, massive tracts will be destroyed to produce only enough oil to sate U.S. demand for, at the most, two weeks. The men and women who have the knowledge of healing plants are finding few in the younger generation who will cultivate their practices. Thus part of the film’s goal is to bring attention to the work, life and knowledge of the Shipibo Conibo people.
The unique nature of the film due to the actors experiences on Ayahuasca, the indigenous music and sounds as well as the use of animation to convey the hallucinogenic state of mind make “Icaros: A Vision” a mesmerizing and captivating film. An appreciation for the beautiful amazon, the people and plants are beautifully portrayed and become additional characters to the film.
The film opens in New York and plays May 19-25, 2017 at The Metrograph. There will be a Q&A and other programs following the film almost every night with issues raised by the film, such as experimental film-making, ayahuasca, shamanism, shipibo knowledge and activism, disease and healing, the amazon and climate change. For full information visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/1013233162146580/
Follow the film at http://www.icarosavision.com/