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An evocative soul portrait of a mother and her son healing generations of family trauma with natural and alternative medicine.
An evocative soul portrait of a mother and her son healing generations of family trauma with natural and alternative medicine.
201 backers pledged $50,113 to help bring this project to life.

About

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In this age of isolation, when so many of us are increasingly fixated on screens and shiny new objects rather than on connection and on compassion, it is no surprise that we are plagued by an epidemic of addiction. If addiction is an adaptation to a poverty of the spirit, then we will remain malnourished and bonded to our addiction until we can deeply connect to self, to source, and to community. In the midst of an international crisis of overdose deaths and suicide, questions about how we authentically connect with ourselves and each other in the face of this isolation are increasingly urgent.

The Story

Cura is a feature length documentary in progress that tells the story of Yolanda and Donny, a mother and son who break cycles of addiction and violence in the face of impossible odds. At a time when lawmakers leave no choice for impoverished Americans but to crowdfund their own surgeries, Yolanda and Donny's story of taking their mental healthcare into their own hands is more critical than ever. Their story illuminates both the spiritual and communal aspects of healing from trauma, as well as the stark socioeconomic realities that often prevent it for many marginalized people.

The film is a passion project of director Ethan Goldwater that — over the past two and a half years — has amassed a team of dedicated and influential individuals from the worlds of healing, public policy, and film. The story begins in the shadow of the structural injustice and violence at the heart of American inequality. Yolanda and her sons all grew up in southern California’s Inland Empire, amidst fear of family violence, the spectre of raids by law enforcement, and constant financial instability. Growing up with parents who used and sold heroin throughout her childhood, Yolanda herself developed a regular meth habit at age 16. Years later, her sons began using meth at younger ages than she did.

Over a decade ago, Yolanda moved to the California Bay Area to get away from her toxic environment. When her sons joined her there, they had both already been in and out of juvenile detention and prison, struggling to navigate a world that criminalizes trauma and many of the mechanisms people use to cope with it. 

We began filming Cura soon after Yolanda's younger son Johnny died from a preventable meth overdose in an Oakland jail in 2015. In Cura, she strives to save her surviving son Donny, who also struggles with addiction, depression, and PTSD.

However, our film is about more than oppression and struggle - it is a story of healing and reclamation. Cura follows Yolanda and Donny as they utilize ancient, innovative, and visionary medicine to heal the trauma and break out of cycles of addiction and violence that have plagued their family and community for generations.

Our Approach

A message from director and producer Ethan Goldwater:

“Yolanda and I met in a sacred meditation community about 5 years ago and became fast friends. I was blown away many times over by Yolanda’s uncanny story and her unfathomable strength. Soon after she lost her son Johnny in March 2015, I asked her if she was interested in sharing her story. Yolanda agreed, and since then, we have worked to integrate with Yolanda’s healing process, using the storytelling process as a medium for her to process her grief and healing. As Yolanda and Donny's story unfolded, others in the community - Ismail, Alessandra, Jan, Max, Tara, Allen, Yaara, Chris and Derek - have joined to help tell their story with integrity and power. 

Yolanda courageously opened up her life to our cameras, allowing us to capture her and Donny's challenges combating addiction, violence, and poverty. We’ve been there through the small everyday moments, filmed in ceremony and in jail. We’ve held the camera through the course of Yolanda’s legal case against Alameda County and the CHP. Their story - filled with triumph and tragedy - demonstrates how even in the midst of intergenerational trauma, healing can always be accessed through community, commitment, and ceremony."

By helping Yolanda and Donny tell their own story, we hope to show how community-based, integrative medicine can intervene at opportune moments, even within otherwise intractable patterns of crisis. 

Together, we are now ready to share this story with the world.

Cura's story is both heartbreaking and transcendent; it is both a stark look at the unjust and brutal reality for many people of color in America, and also a testament to the human spirit in the face of that reality. At its core, Cura shows that transformative and tangible healing is possible for every person who seeks it. We hope that Yolanda's story can inspire others to heal themselves, too.

We need your help now to make this film a reality.

After more than two years of filming, we have over 150 hours of footage to cut, and are now prepared to work with editors that will take this film to its final stages. The funds from this Kickstarter will go to shoot final scenes with Yolanda and Donny, mix sound, and edit our footage into a final cut.

 Cura has been 100% independently filmed and produced so far, but now we need your generous donation to help us take it to the next level.

Help us expand the public conversation around healing and social justice by sharing Yolanda, Johnny, and Donny’s story. Our world needs Cura's powerful message of love, healing, and triumph.



Our Team

Cura’s crew is a dream team of seasoned film producers, expert social justice and drug policy influencers, visionary cinematographers, award winning editors, and much more. Cura is poised to make waves artistically, as well as socio-politically, throughout the worlds of drug policy, social justice, and public health.

Ethan Goldwater (Director, Producer, Cinematographer)  is a filmmaker who was raised in a big family by social workers who showed him what it means to get involved in the lives of others. His work as a filmmaker builds on his prior careers as a journalist in San Francisco, and as public school teacher in NYC. He has created work for organizations such as BRAC, IMEU, UNICEF, Dell Innovation Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, and New Schools Venture Fund, and taught workshops in Bangladesh, Palestine, Uganda, and Ghana aimed at empowering people to use filmmaking as a tool for telling their stories. His short film the Last Waterman of Wittman was selected as a Vimeo staff pick in 2011 and played at the Chesapeake film festival and Camden film festival. He produced The Long Road Home, a TV-special documentary about double amputee tractor puller Larry Koester. In 2014, he founded Hover Pictures, a production company dedicated to making explorative documentary and narrative work and supporting directors to bring new films to life. His recent short film Lady Bountiful premiered at SF Indie Fest and will be broadcast on KQED’s series Truly, CA.

Ismail Ali (Co-Producer) is a multiracial Muslim-American advocate with a depth of lived experience and personal interest at the intersection of social marginalization and drug policy. Ismail presently works as Policy & Advocacy Counsel at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he helps develop and advocate for just, equitable, and creative alternatives to the failed War on Drugs. Ismail also serves as Vice-Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Board of Directors. Ismail earned his J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2016 after focusing his studies on metaphysics, ethics, and Islamic law as a philosophy student at California State University, Fresno. While in law school, among leading and participating in extracurricular activities which focused primarily on human rights, civil liberties, and racial justice, he also worked for the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project. Ismail believes that plant medicine and psychedelic consciousness has a crucial role to play in challenging oppression in all of its forms.

Tara Marchant (Co-Producer) is the Director of the Oakland Emerald Cities Collaborative, working across a host of stakeholder organizations (public, labor, community and industry and workforce development) to bring a collective effort to retrofit our urban core. In doing so, create jobs, build our democracy, reduce energy use, and direct investments to our local communities. Even in her early career pathway, having graduated from Yale University in Theater and French, she saw herself as an artist in the complex narrative called life. Her calling was to create stories and visions, dramas and comedies where the audience, through these works, could aspire to reach higher. She joined her union, performed in TV and Theater. And when she worked, was paid well because of the value her union represented in her craft. However, Tara found that success through performance was limited –she was a woman and a person of color. It taught her that hard work and diligence doesn’t guarantee success: that systems are difficult to manage, and navigate. And old paradigms and old hierarchies were not reflecting the changes needed to include new voices, new cultures and new innovations. It is with the spirit of introducing new voices in important conversations in the Bay Area and throughout California, and connecting to established institutions working to change the dominant social paradigms, that Tara advises Cura.

Steve Holmgren (Consulting Producer) is a producer and curator in the arts, working primarily in independent cinema, and has worked with Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill); I Used to Be Darker), Marie Losier (The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye), Cory McAbee (Crazy & Thief), as well as on the omnibus project Far from Afghanistan (featuring John Gianvito, Soon-Mi Yoo, Minda Martin, Jon Jost, Afghan Voices, and Travis Wilkerson). Holmgren is the head of the advisory committee for the nonprofit documentary arts organization UnionDocs, for which he served as programmer from 2009-14. In that capacity, he organized hundreds of screenings, panels, and workshops. He has worked at several film festivals – including the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, Tribeca, and Sound Unseen – in a variety of capacities and has also worked in film sales with Cactus Three and in distribution with Gartenberg Media Enterprises. Holmgren has additionally been a visiting professor at Pratt Institute as well as participating at forums including IFP New York, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, and Visible Evidence.

Max Basch (Cinematographer) came from a background in photography which reflects in his framing as a documentarian. He recently has shot and directed a number of music video projects for the likes of Zoe Kravitz and Benjamin Clementine and has had the honor of working with other artists such as Prince, and Beyoncé. Currently, he's in the process of finishing a feature length documentary on the life of painter, Kenny Scharf.

Alessandra Lacorazza (Editor) is a queer Colombian-American filmmaker and editor based in Brooklyn NY. Her work deals with both personal and cultural memory, and incorporates themes of resilience, migration, community and alienation. She creates work where identities intersect and form dualities. Recently, she directed a music video for artist Julia Weldon, featured in NYLON, OUT, and GO Magazine, which pays homage to queer bodies, queer spaces, and the latinx lives lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting. As an editor, Alessandra has focused her work on the latinx community in the US and in Latin America. Her work was chosen as part of the 2016 IFP labs and has been shown at film festivals and featured in numerous online publications. Alessandra is part of the 2017 – 2018 MeerKat Media Collective Residency Program. 

 Yaara Sumeruk (Editor) is a writer, director and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her film Ringo premiered at The Locarno International Film Festival. Aside from narrative films, her work spans music videos, commercials, short documentaries and editing trailers. Yaara has cut trailers for director Spike Lee, The Sundance Institute, The Malala Fund and many documentary features. She was the Creative Director for a series of films screened at The U.N’s General Assembly. For two years, Yaara held the position of Director of Video Production at Bond/360, an independent documentary distribution firm. She lectures on film at Princeton University. Her new short narrative films American Daddy and Kim's Kitchen will be out soon.

Risks and challenges

Compared to the risks taken by the subjects of this film in taking charge of their own healing path, the risks we take as filmmakers are minor. Our challenges are minimal, compared to the challenges of people who courageously face structural obstacles to survival every day of their lives.

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  1. Select this reward

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    Big Gratitude

    A thank you - personally written by the Hover Team - and email updates on Cura developments.

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    Cura Desktop Backgrounds

    A selection of original desktop backgrounds made from Cura stills by collage artist Iuri Kothe-- mementos from Yolanda and Donny's uncanny journeys.

    https://www.iuri.art.br/

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    Cura Streaming Access

    Once Cura is completed, you will receive a private link and code to stream Cura on the internet.

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    Cura Soundtrack - digital download

    A groundbreaking document, unifying many ceremonial musicians from across the country who are defining a new movement of music, inspired by deep healing, astral places, and ancient melodies.

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    Sound Healing with Franck Raharinosy

    Franck offers deep healing through sound baths that unlock unique states of relaxation and meditation. By addressing the energetic stressors inherent in NYC living, our nervous and adrenal systems are given an opportunity to recuperate.

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors only. Transportation not provided.

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    Wild Unknown Tarot readings by Yolanda

    Yolanda offers a reading/conversation with the Wild Unknown tarot card book. She offers her own sage advice and brings in her own story. These cards work for her and Donny. Yolanda usually reads for her closest peeps and she is offering up to thirty of these sessions to our community. Sessions are up to 30 minutes, to be done via FaceTime or Skype.

    In addition, you will get streaming access to the film upon completion.

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    Sound Healing with Franck (Feb 2018)

    The date of this second sound bath is TBA for February 2018.

    Franck offers deep healing through sound baths that unlock unique states of relaxation and meditation. By addressing the energetic stressors inherent in NYC living, our nervous and adrenal systems are given an opportunity to recuperate.

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors only. Transportation not provided.

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    Vegan Ice Cream and Rapé Ceremony

    Stefanie and Gordon host a vegan ice cream ceremony at their beautiful home in East Williamsburg, where they welcome travelers from around the world from lineages of healing and ancient ways.  Gordon serves his masterly vegan ice cream; Stephanie serves Rapé.

    Join this expansive, mission driven community that encompasses the entire globe and universe.  Celebrate the cashew tree and tobacco plant - network with the paradigm shifters.

    And please visit Unlok.space :)

    Available to NYC residents only - transportation not included

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    Series of 3 Kundalini Yoga Classes

    Malia Scharf is offering a 3 class Kundalini Yoga series. Kundalini Yoga activates the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands the lung capacity, and purifies the bloodstream. Get well with this special instructor.

    Available at unspecified dates throughout 2018 in either LA or NYC. Transportation not included

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    Psychedelic Integration Circle

    We're thrilled to offer a day-long public workshop on psychedelic integration and harm reduction at the Center for Optimal Living. Presenters will include the co-directors of the Psychedelic Education & Continuing Care Program, Katherine MacLean, PhD and Ingmar Gorman, PhD.

    This workshop will cover the basics of psychedelic harm reduction, how to differentiate between a psychedelic experience and a potential mental health crisis, and how to provide compassionate, non-intrusive support during the experience and helping the individual make contact with a trusted mental health professional or medical service, if needed.

    It will also discuss the process of integration, or how the insights and challenges of a psychedelic experience can be incorporated into daily life in a way that benefits the individual and their community.

    http://centerforoptimalliving.com/

    Spring 2018. Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Cura Collage by artist Iuri Kothe

    Large format glossy prints of your choice of gorgeous collages by artist Iuri Kothe using images from Cura.

    https://www.iuri.art.br/

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    Morton's Warm Springs: Day Pass for 2

    Location: Glen Ellen, CA

    Discover this historic gem and the Bay Area's closest natural geothermal springs! Located in the heart of Sonoma County, in a place known as the Valley of the Moon, this diverse springs sanctuary is only one hour drive from San Francisco or Oakland, and blessed to have been completely spared from the recent fires.

    Nestled among a canopy of large heritage oaks, open meadows and rolling hills, enjoy a family picnic or meal at our in-house organic cafe. Dip your toes in Sonoma Creek or rejuvenate in our geothermal spring water. With 20 acres to spread out, and bordering over 1/3 of a mile of Sonoma Creek, Morton's is the perfect seasonal daytime getaway to spend a casual day in nature with friends and family.

    • Available (May - September 2018) see website for specific days & admission policies •
    MortonsWarmSprings.com | info@mortonswarmsprings.com
    www.facebook.com/mortonswarmspringsCA

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    Altar offerings from Yolanda

    A set of sacred objects for your altar from Yolanda. This set includes a blessing oil, Måndala card, and stone all blessed by Yolanda herself.

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    Counseling session with Cam Redford

    An hour long in-person counseling session with film collaborator, Interchange trained counselor and legendary deep love specialist Robalo Cam Redford.

    Only applicable to Bay Area residents or visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Remedi Food Dinner

    This February dinner will be a local, seasonal and medicinal three course meal, including tonics and digestifs as well as some speaking about nutrition and food synergetics.

    Remedi Food was founded by Mantra Mundana with the intention of making real, ethically sourced, mindfully prepared and nutritionally bountiful food accessible to New Yorkers — especially those coming from varying marginalized social and economic backgrounds.

    The name Remedi was inspired by the practice of bio(remedi)ation, the act of restoring damaged or corrupted soil with the introduction of helpful microorganisms.

    Remedi Food aims to transform people in the macroorganisms that remediate the soil of the human condition that causes our planet and people harm.

    https://www.remedifood.com

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Acupuncture by Richard Nyari

    Richard Nyari (L.Ac, MSTOM) graduated from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in 2011 in New York city with dual Masters Degrees in Acupuncture and Herbology.

    Richard is a Licensed Acupuncturist both in New York and New Jersey. He is also certified by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine).

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    The CLN Fools Tarot

    A Q.P.O.C, Social-Eco Justice, Permacultured, 13 Fooled & Multiversed Tarot Deck from the Creative Liberation Network!!!
    With this remixed Tarot, we call upon the ancient technologies of intuitional literacy, symbolic language, polytheism, animism, story telling, conversing with the sentient forces of life, and the power to create our own authentic narratives. With these technologies, in the tradition of resistance woven into the legacies of the Tarot and indigenous people's everywhere, we create an altar, a rosetta stone, and an underground railroad to creative liberation and reconnection with ourselves, each other, our planet, and our worlds.

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    Urban Herbalism (Herbanism)

    Herban Cura will lead a 3 hour hands on workshop centered around learning how to identify and prepare herbal remedies from plants growing in New York City. Participants would leave with a salve, tea blend, and knowledge of medicinal plants.

    Herban Cura is the bridge that brings healing traditions to an urban setting. Rooted in holistic and plant based practices, they offer handmade products, sliding scale educational workshops, and community based events.

    Their aim is to make healing services available to communities throughout New York City.

    https://www.herbancura.org/

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Emergeazurescens Bodywork Session

    Each bodywork session from adélàjà is about two hours. This includes a 30 minute intake and 90 minute massage.

    During the intake we will explore life transitions, dreams/images with which you are working, and bridge psychosomatic connection.

    The bodywork is full body Swedish massage using oils, with a focus on Deep Bodywork. Engaging the muscles, fascia, bones and blood seeds a journey that may seem more akin to a dream; where tension is released and the wisdom of the body, mind, deep imagination and emotions can be more fully engaged and received.

    Sessions will take place in your home.

    https://emergeazurescens.life/

    Location: Oakland and East Bay/SF vicinity or Baltimore, DC metropolitan area** based on availability. Transportation not provided.

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    Morton's Warm Springs: Family Day Pass

    (For up to 5 related family members)

    Discover this historic gem and the Bay Area's closest natural geothermal springs! Located in the heart of Sonoma County, in a place known as the Valley of the Moon, this diverse springs sanctuary is only one hour drive from San Francisco or Oakland, and blessed to have been completely spared from the recent fires.

    Nestled among a canopy of large heritage oaks, open meadows and rolling hills, enjoy a family picnic or meal at our in-house organic cafe. Dip your toes in Sonoma Creek or rejuvenate in our geothermal spring water. With 20 acres to spread out, and bordering over 1/3 of a mile of Sonoma Creek, Morton's is the perfect seasonal daytime getaway to spend a casual day in nature with friends and family.

    • Open May-September, 10am-5pm, see website for specific days & admission policies •
    MortonsWarmSprings.com | info@mortonswarmsprings.com
    www.facebook.com/mortonswarmspringsCA

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    Emergeazurescens Bodywork Session

    Each bodywork session from adélàjà is about two hours. This includes a 30 minute intake and 90 minute massage.

    During the intake we will explore life transitions, dreams/images with which you are working, and bridge psychosomatic connection.

    The bodywork is full body Swedish massage using oils, with a focus on Deep Bodywork. Engaging the muscles, fascia, bones and blood seeds a journey that may seem more akin to a dream; where tension is released and the wisdom of the body, mind, deep imagination and emotions can be more fully engaged and received.

    Sessions will take place in your home.

    https://emergeazurescens.life/

    Location: Oakland and East Bay/SF vicinity or Baltimore, DC metropolitan area** based on availability. Transportation not provided.

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    Prayer session with Yolanda

    Yolanda's unique prayers integrate multiple spiritual traditions. She works with your etheric body, helping to clear the way for your physical and emotional healing.

    Available to Bay Area residents only

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    Suculima Animal Totem Blessing Charts

    Participating in receiving an Animal Totem Blessing chart is listening to the messages that our Spirit ancestors always have available to us.

    Paola Suculima creates a personalized commissioned piece that includes an Animal Oracle Reading to find your guardian or Totem animal spirits.

    The messages are woven into a watercolor and marker original art piece that speaks through the water and also includes written notes for each person.

    https://suculima.weebly.com/

    Mailing included within the US, Mexico and Canada. Additional shipping charge needed if mailing outside of the US.

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    Experimental VR Sound and Vision Bath

    Developed by renowned VR artist David Lobser, Hover will host an evening of food, conversation and healing audio-visual immersion. The event will begin with a meal of delicious local food by Hover resident Jan Woo, followed by a panel discussion on the current state of VR, and finally a variety of VR experiences using healing sounds and visions, powered both with high tech electronics and traditional healing devices.

    This 45 minute experience will be akin to a meditative massage for all the senses and will leave the subject in a relaxed state of bliss.

    It may or may not look something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkvByQqXUrQ

    Participants get to take home their own Oculus Go headset - pre-loaded with a custom/unique VR experiences designed by David

    https://www.oculus.com/go/

    Check out more of David Lobser's work at: http://dlobser.com/

    Applicable to NYC residents or visitors only

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    Urban Herbalism (Herbanism)

    Herban Cura will lead a 3 hour hands on workshop centered around learning how to identify and prepare herbal remedies from plants growing in New York City. Participants would leave with a salve, tea blend, and knowledge of medicinal plants.

    Herban Cura is the bridge that brings healing traditions to an urban setting. Rooted in holistic and plant based practices, they offer handmade products, sliding scale educational workshops, and community based events.

    Their aim is to make healing services available to communities throughout New York City.

    https://www.herbancura.org/

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Landscaping by Donny

    Donny — one of the main characters in the film — is a landscaper with many years of experience in conservation projects and maintenance. He is offering his expert hedging and tree pruning services for the benefit of the film. This reward is limited to Bay Area residents only.

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    Ravencrest Botanicals CSA Share

    A monthly treat of artisan skin care products, organic herbal medicine and herbal teas by one of the film’s collaborators.

    Embrace the healing powers of Mother Earth and learn how to heal yourself with the help of plant medicine.

    You will receive 6 monthly collections of organic herbal remedies, artisan skin care products and delicious herbal tea blends – all grown and alchemically blended and prepared at Raven Crest Farm in Berne, NY. With your last share, you will have a fully stocked herbal medicine cabinet with remedies to help you stay healthy through the winter season and beyond.

    In addition, your CSA share includes a complimentary herbal consultation via skype or phone with herbalist Susanna Raeven.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Cura Team Breakfast

    A personal meeting with the producers during the edit process. Get an in depth look into documentary filmmaking in today’s world at Hover Pictures HQ in Chinatown.

    You will also get one item between $250-1,000 of your choice!

    www.hoverpictures.com

    You will also get one item between $250-1,000 of your choice!

    Applicable to NYC Residents or Visitors. Transportation not provided.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    One week stay at a house in Costa Rica

    A one week stay at a beautiful house in Costa Rica located right on the beach. This house is aligned with the ideals of Cura and is a perfect place for healing and spiritual renewal right on a beautiful private beach property.

    Scheduling necessary, one week stay will not be available during the months of June and July.

    You will also get two items between $250-1,000 of your choice!

    www.airbnb.com/rooms/3281172

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Executive Producer's circle

    Join our team!

    With your generous contribution, you will be given an inside look into the Documentary process and meet the filmmakers and creative partners behind Cura as they finish the film.

    During the winter, you will also be invited to a Cura production meeting and have your voice heard by sitting in on a meeting while we discuss our editing progress.

    You will also be invited to have a home-cooked dinner with the Hover team at their office in Chinatown, NYC and a Sound Bath. Included in this donation are tickets to the NYC or California premiere for Cura. (Transportation not provided.)

    You will also get three items between $250-1,000 of your choice!

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Funding period

- (40 days)