Did you know there have been several documentaries made about the subject of Ayahuasca, and many of them you can watch online for free. Here’s a round up of some of the best documentaries I’ve come across to date.
Shamanism – Other Worlds – Ayahuasca Documentary
Other Worlds is definitely the best Ayahuasca documentary that you can currently watch online for free. It was made by French filmmaker Jan Kounen who was also the director of the film Blueberry (aka Renegade) so the production values are pretty high.
Filmed mostly in the Peruvian Amazon around Iquitos, Â this is a very informative documentary and features several well known experts and shamans being interviewed about the nature of the Ayahuasca experience. This includes Jeremy Narby author of Cosmic Serpent, the artists Pablo Amaringo and Alex Grey, Stanislav Grob and also Rick Strassman author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule. It also contains some pretty cool CGI sequences that try to show what ayahuasca visions can be like, although they certainly don’t resemble my own visions to date.
To the Ends of the Earth – Jungle Trip
This is a Channel 4 documentary that aired on British television a few years ago. I’m not quite sure what to make of it really and I can’t say that I enjoyed it all that much, but it’s perhaps worth a watch. It follows the adventures of Piers Gibson, an actor and ‘keen amateur ethnobotanist’ to the Peruvian Amazon where he wants to learn more about ayahuasca and shamanism.
Piers comes across as a little bit dull to be honest, and even a bit thick at times, and I also found the voice of the narrator to be rather annoying. After arriving in Iquitos Piers meets and takes part in an Ayahuasca ceremony with Alan Shoemaker a well known character within the ayahuasca scene and organiser of the annual Ayahuasca conference here in Iquitos. Following the ceremony is a bizarre scene the next morning where the participants all get naked and get beaten with stinging nettle leaves!! I’ve never ever heard of, or come across anything like that before, and if you’re worried we might do that on Ayahuasca Odyssey retreats then don’t be! You have my absolute assurance you will never be asked to get naked in front of the group or be stung by nettles! 🙂
I think what bothered me most about this documentary is that it didn’t really give a great impression of coming to Iquitos to drink ayahuasca and also you don’t really learn much about ayahuasca or shamanism either. It’s not terrible but I would expect from a Channel 4 documentary who usually make far more interesting programs than this.
The Man Who Drank The Universe
This short documentary follows British tv presenter and long-time Buddhist Alistair AppletonÂ as he travels to Brazil to experience Ayahuasca for the first time. Alistair admitsÂ in his opening monologue that he is completely teetotal and doesn’t even drink normal tea let alone take any kind of drugs. But he’s done plenty of research on Ayahuasca and the spiritual side of it intrigues him enough to want to experience it for himself.
So off he goes to Brazil to meet Silvia Polivoy who will introduce him to Ayahuasca on one of her Brazilian retreats. This is quite interesting to me because I’ve actually met Silvia a couple of times and taken part in two retreats that she’s facilitated in the past. I like Silvia quite a lot although I was disappointed to see that she barely makes an appearance. In fact this is not a very informative documentary at all because no experts get interviewed here. In fact pretty much the whole documentary features people talking about ayahuasca who hardly know anything about ayahuasca except for having taken part in a few ceremonies.
This is not something to watch if you really want to learn about Ayahuasca, however if you’re intrigued by other peoples experiences then it’s certainly interesting enough to watch. Alistair is always watchable and fairly eloquent about describing some of his experiences.
There are a few more Ayahuasca documentaries that have been released in the last few years that areÂ currentlyÂ only available to buy on DVD. I will be reviewing these separately in the near future.