‘Icaros: A Vision’: A Shamanic Cinematic Journey Into the Heart of Ayahuasca


Icaros: A Vision is a unique experience in film that takes you on a visionary voyage through the healing power of ayahuasca, and the magic, and wonder of the Amazon. With a powerful story, and an aesthetic that tickles the imagination, this masterful film opens the heart, stimulates the mind, and ignites the spirit. 

In a time where unique voices, and stories are a rarity in mainstream film, the shamanic cinematic journey of Icaros is a breath of fresh air, amidst the lifeless landscape of remix culture. With a style that is as affecting as a Werner Herzog film, and as surreal as Requeim for a Dream, this endeavor into exploring the heart of ayahuasca is absolutely sublime.

The film is a statement on how journeying into the dark night of the soul (both metaphorically and spiritually) can ignite the inner light of the spirit, and illuminate the understanding of the interconnectedness of nature and humanity, and how our division from nature has lended itself to a separation of consciousness, resulting in the loss of true vision, and the disease of fear. Based partially upon the true-life experiences of co-director Leonor Caraballo, who unfortunately transitioned from breast cancer before production was completed.

See also: Film producer Jen Gatien interviews director Matteo Morzi for The Know Culture 


‘Icaros: a vision’ is a story about fear and the release from fear – the fear of illness and of death, but also the fear of life and living. It’s about the possibility of living through one’s fear – which is what the Amazonian plant Ayahuasca is good at getting you to do. Centered on the nightly ceremonies that are the main feature of shamanic retreats, Icaros revels in darkness, replicating a shamanic journey.

The film mixes in elements of reality. Set in an actual Ayahuasca retreat in Peru, it features real shamans and indigenous non-actors from the Shipibo community, mixed in with western actors. Aspects of the film are based on co-director Leonor Caraballo’s true experiences. She had metastatic breast cancer when the shoot began. Although she dedicated herself to the project until the very end, sadly she died before she could see the film finished.

The film is also driven by the conviction that acknowledging the power of plants is the best way to change the jeopardized future of the Amazon – itself like a dying patient. The exploitation of Shipibo lands and communities by oil and timber companies continues. Over the next 20 years, massive tracts will be destroyed to produce only enough oil to sate U.S. demand for, at the most, two weeks. The men and women who have the knowledge of healing plants are finding few in the younger generation who will cultivate their practices. Thus part of the film’s goal is to bring attention to the work, life and knowledge of the Shipibo Conibo people.

Icaros: a vision is a filmic tapestry about the meeting of cultures, a West in search of its lost soul and the indigenous Shipibo adapting their expansive practices and unique view of the universe.

Finally, the story takes place in Iquitos, the same town where Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo was shot more than 30 years ago, and the hotel Casa Fitzcarraldo hosts a key scene in the film.

The film is able to be watched online by visiting the link below. To learn more about Icaros, visit the official website by clicking here.

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