In the west our views about the world in which we live and the questions about our existence, in other words "our reality" are largely shaped by science and religion.
Many indigenous cultures, on the other hand, see their lives and understand their existence in a very different way. Their knowledge and belief systems are guided by experience and observation handed down verbally over the ages. Many cultures also learn from plants. Their shaman ingest what they consider to be sacred plants, which allow them to travel into the spirit world in order to learn, grow, heal or be healed.
As we near the technological singularity why are non-western belief systems important to us in the twenty first century?
The advancements to our society and culture stemming from the industrial revolution of the last century to the Internet explosion of today are clear. Yet, with all the knowledge we have gained we also tend to live in disharmony with our planet, other nations and within our own communities.
But what of the knowledge of indigenous cultures and the use of sacred plant medicine - is there something for us to learn? Can their knowledge provide new insight? Can their wisdom enhance what we know? Is there a place for western style and indigenous knowledge systems to co-exist?
The Path of the Sun seeks to answer these questions by hearing the words, ideas, concepts and thoughts directly from two indigenous groups of shamanic practitioners: the Q'eros of the high Andes of Peru and the curanderos of the Peruvian Amazon.
The Q'eros believe they are the direct bloodline descendants of the Inka. It was in the late 1950's when a group of explorers headed by Anthropologist Oscar Nunez Del Prado went high up into the Andes to meet with the community for the first time. They found that many of the Q'eros lived at altitudes that exceeded 14,000 feet. Their homes were primitive stone huts, had dirt floors and grass thatched roofs. They claimed then and today that their shamanic ways are derived from the same practices of the Inka and tap into universal energy. This energy work is said to heal sickness, predict the future and manipulate their environment. Up until the middle of the 20th century, prior to frequent contact with the outside world they were able to live in harmony with Mother Nature through a reciprocity based system of exchange called Ayni.
Mestizo and Indigenous curanderos in the Amazon work to heal ones sickness, malady and soul with a sacred brew called Ayahuasca that is made from the vine Banesteriopsis Caapi and the Chacruna leaf Psychotria viridis containing one of the most powerful hallucinogens known to man DMT N-dimethyltryptamine. Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine that is said to be able to transport you to other worlds where one encounters spirits and intense visual images. Ultimately, the medicine works in a way that heals; from relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders to in some reported cases curing physical ailments, illness and disease. Many practitioners and westerners that work with the brew also say that the medicine improves their lives and relationships as they are able to see things in a different way after drinking the brew. Ayahuasca has also been used successfully for decades to treat alcoholism and drug addiction.
CURRENT STATE OF THE FILM
I have completed eighteen interviews with native shaman, academics and authors and have recorded over one terabyte of imagery and photography. Two more interviews are scheduled and should be completed by the end of the year.
WHO'S IN THE FILM
Don Humberto Soncco - Kurak Aquellak of the Q'eros Nation
Dona Bernadina Soncco - Pampa Mesoyaq of the Q'eros Nation
Rolando Soncco - Pampa Mesoyaq of the Q'eros Nation
Guillermo Soncco - Pampa Mesoyaq of the Q'eros Nation
Don Andres Flores - Pampa Mesoyaq of the Q'eros Nation
Benito Machaca - Pampa Mesoyaq and President of the Q'eros Nation
Maestro Don Ignacio - Curandero/Ayahuasquero - Infierno, Peru
Ronald Rivera Cachique - Ayahuasquero/Ayahuascologo - Pucallpa, Peru
Maestro Luis Culquiton - Curandero/Ayahuasquero - Iquitos, Peru
In order to produce a feature length documentary that is filmed in remote regions of South America, in two languages other than English (Quechua and Spanish) is a time consuming and somewhat costly undertaking - even if conducted on a shoestring budget. In order to make it all happen and get the project where it is today I had to purchase a mobile filmmaking rig, travel to the high Andes and Amazon and set up a base of operations in Cusco, Peru. As of November 2012, I have invested over $14,000 and the costs continue to mount as I begin the editing process.
The additional funds needed to complete the film is the reason I have created this Kickstarter program. I don't want a hand-out or charity. I want to create a environment where both myself and my partners benefit. This is why I am asking you to purchase a reward so that I can receive the necessary funds for completing the film and bring it to you and audiences around the world.
What I need to complete the film and submit it to Film Festivals and seek distribution deals with traditional broadcast media, theaters and online outlets is to purchase a Mac editing system, editing and special effects software, data storage, audio editing equipment, submission fees for film festivals, postage and shipping fees, some additional travel expenses, translation, Kickstarter rewards production and fulfillment expenses, and Kickstarter and Amazon Payments fees.
With the minimum amount secured I can fulfill my promise to complete the film and submit it to festivals around the world.
Please note all awards that involve shipping are to the US only, if you live outside of the US special arrangements can be made. Please contact the filmmaker at email@example.com
I would like to personally thank the following people and organizations for their assistance and/or participation in the production of this Kickstarter video.
Q'eros Nation, Don Humberto Soncco, Dona Bernadina Soncco, Guillermo Soncco, Rolando Soncco, Marcossa Soncco, Don Andres Flores, Ronald Rivera Cachique, Don Ignacio, Casa de Campo, The International Q'eros Foundation and JaGoFF for use of their song Move Your Feet
Special thanks go to Elise Noela May as Assistant DP for Piece To Camera work and Martha Morales Polar
Risks and challenges
Every film project comes with it's own set of risks and challenges and The Path of The Sun is no different.
Once funded, the post production phase of the film can begin. This includes having the interviews translated from Quechua and Spanish into english. In order to ensure the translations are done accurately, I have secured a professional translator who is a native Quechua speaker and understands the nuances of the dialects of the indigenous peoples I have worked with in Peru. She comes to the project with recommendations from previous work with National Geographic so I am confident she will be able to complete the work professionally, properly and on time
The film itself will include interviews with over 20 individuals. Eighteen interviews have been completed and the two final interviews are scheduled to be completed prior to the end of the year. Given that there is more than six months between now and when the film will be submitted to festivals there is a solid buffer of time to complete the interviews and integrate the footage into the film if they need to be rescheduled.
The film will also include 2-3 animation sequences. Animation is a separate skill from editing and one that can take years to learn. Fortunately, my work providing live video performances to Dj's and festivals included the creation of animated footage using programs like Apple's Motion and Adobe's After Effects..
Additionally, I have created contingency plans. There are translators I have identified that can also provide the translations for the film if my first choice does not work out. Since I have over 18 interviews completed, if the last two failed to occur the film still could be completed without those interviews - the last two are really icing on the cake. Finally, many creatives have offered assistance on the project, from animation, to color correction to editing, so I believe that at any point if I become overwhelmed with the many moving parts of the project I could tap into an available talent pool to assist me in completing the project on time.
Finally, I have gained permission from several shaman to provide ceremonies an/or private audiences for some of the higher rewards levels. If something happens, for example if one of the elder shaman became sick and could not perform a ceremony, I will still be able to provide the reward by having another shaman of similar standing in the community offer the service.
All of the above PLUS a printed and signed Ltd. Edition 13" x 19" Hi Resolution Digital Photograph of a Peruvian Shaman. Each photograph is limited to 30 prints and is numbered and signed by photographer and filmmaker Seti Gershberg. Purchasers may choose from a group of available photographs.
All of the above PLUS a signed 8.5" x 8.5" casebound hardcover Coffee Table Photo Book featuring "inspirational words of shamanic wisdom" and photographs of the Peruvian Andes, Peruvian Amazon, Peruvian Shaman and Peruvian People. Each book is signed by photographer and filmmaker Seti Gershberg and a personal thank you is provided
Everything from the $10, $15, $25, $50 and $100 reward levels PLUS a printed, signed AND FRAMED Ltd. Edition 13" x 19" Hi Resolution Digital Photograph of a Peruvian Shaman. Each photograph is limited to 30 prints and is numbered and signed by photographer and filmmaker Seti Gershberg. Purchasers may choose from a group of available photographs. PLUS a signed 12" x 12" casebound hardcover Coffee Table Photo Book featuring "inspirational words of shamanic wisdom" and photographs of the Peruvian Andes, Peruvian Amazon, Peruvian Shaman and Peruvian People. Each book is signed by photographer and filmmaker Seth Gershberg and a personal thank you is provided PLUS your name listed in the special thank you section of the movie credits.
Everything from the $1,000 reward category PLUS I will film a Q'eros Despacho (Offering to the Apus and Pachamama) performed in Your Honor by a Q'eros Paqo. The ceremony will take place in a Sacred Inca Location. A despacho is a sacred spiritual offering to the apus or mountain spirits and Pachamama or Mother Earth. These are the same ceremonies that were performed by the Inka. PLUS an Associate Producer Listing in the Movie Credits
Everything from the $2,500 reward level PLUS I will arrange AND "film" a private audience for you via Skype with the Kurak Aquellaq the most senior spiritual leader of the Q'eros Nation. The video recording will be sent to you on a DVD
Everything from the $5,000 reward level PLUS a one-week guided tour by Seti Gershberg the filmmaker to either the remote mountain villages of Q'eros or the Amazon Jungle to live with native peoples and meet and work with the shaman who are the subject of my documentary. All meals, local transportation and accommodations will be provided as well as one RT ticket from Miami, FL to Peru.