A documentary about the way of life of the Cofan which highlights in particular their use of Yage (Ayahuasca) as a medicine and a tool for the social orientation of their community.
The main objectives of the film are:
- to raise awareness about the Cofan.
- to promote educational and environmental proyects that are working towards the conservation of the Cofan culture.
- to contribute towards the integration of Yage and indigenous knowledge and wisdom into mainstream western society.
The Cofan live in the Putumayo region of southern Colombia and northern Ecuador. Over the past 500 years their ancestral territory has been gradually eroded as a result of various factors and their communities continue to be at risk of further loss of land.
Cofan myth of the creation of Yage...
Yage grew thanks to God our father. He took out a hair from his head and planted it in the rainforests of Putumayo. The Yage grew and God prepared it, he drank it and suffered. After he went to heaven and left Yage for us, the Cofan. It advised us how to live well by recognising our mistakes, not treating others badly and living in happiness and harmony. From Yage comes our thought, it helps us to think with our heads and with our hearts, we also learnt our language through Yage which we use to give names to our reality. God left us Yage to save humanity.
A plant medicine...
The Cofan have been using Yage for generations. The Taitas use Yage to cure illnesses, solve problems, make decisions and guide their community. Yage ceremonies are led by the Taitas who use chanting in the Cofan language, music, ceremonial clothes and jewellery and incence to guide the experience of the participants.
The effects of Yage are wide-ranging and highly subjective depending very much on the state of mind and body of the participant. Effects can include visionary states and feelings of connection with nature and other people. Many people who have taken part in Yage ceremonies have undergone profound transformatory experiences which have had a positive and lasting impact on their lives and relationships.
Sadly as a result of various geopolitical factors the traditional culture of the Cofan is at risk. Many of the younger generation have lost interest in Yage attracted away from their communities by western ideals such as consumerism and economic ambition. Fewer and fewer members of the Cofan are able to speak their language and it is feared that one day it will disappear altogether with the passing of the older generations. Over the past 100 years Cofan territory has reduced a great deal and it has become much more difficult to produce the medicinal plants necessary in order to conduct their traditional ceremonies.
The main aim of our documentary is to draw attention to these problems in addition to highlighting the potential of Yage as a therapeutic tool for emotional and physical well-being as well as social cohesion in western society where it continues to be illegal.
A forgotten culture...
Throughout Cofan territory, from the Amazonian foothills to the rainforests of Ecuador, various factors are having a very serious impact on their cultural tradition, ancient knowledge and way of life. These factors appear to have been made invisible by the state and it is therefore of vital importance for their voice to be heard.
A documentary to express the reality of the Cofan from the perspective of their cosmovision and with special emphasis on their traditional medicine Yage (Ayahuasca). The documentary will be structured through images of the culture, their customs, the sound of their traditional chanting during the Yage ceremonies, footage of their work in the "chagras" (organic farms), their children learning the old wisdom at school as well as interviews with community elders, mothers, fathers, children and teachers delivered with the cultural sensitivity of alternative cinema as an invitation to fall in love with the culture, traditional medicine and ancient story of the guardians of the rainforest.
Note: the documentary will be mostly in Castellano and Cofan with subtitled in English.
Professionals in the area of journalism, cinema, education, political science, medicine and design and with the support of Benjamin de Loennen (president of de ICEERS - International Center for Ethnobotanical Education Reserch y Services) having met at the World Ayahuasca Conference 2014 in Ibiza.
In addition to our professional relationship we are also good friends who have the collective goal of creating a documentary with the proposed objectives and, at first, using our own resources in order to give a voice to the Cofan and shine a light on their ancestral knowledge as well as the problems they currently face.
Most of our filming will take place in the Cofan reserves of Putumayo although we will also be filming in the cities of Bogota, Cali and Pasto.
The filming stage will be of 6 weeks in duration from the start of March 2015 to the middle of April. During that time we plan to record footage of governmental assemblies of the Cofan, village meetings, ceremonial traditions, agricultural methods and educational activities as well as interviews with elders, teachers, women and children of the community.