Feature documentary / AUS / 118mins
Based on the book by Rak Razam
Directed Timothy Parish
AYA: Awakenings is a documentary journey into the world and visions of Amazonian 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 entheogenic plant medicine 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. Western seekers also experiment with smokable dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and the juxtaposition of these two sacraments, and the way they are used by Westerners, is a central theme of the film. 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.