Hidden Flick: Special Edition

for EMD, gatekeeper to hidden gems

Through five seasons of Hidden Flick, encompassing 75 editions, I searched for obscure films that may be of interest to the cinematically obtuse observer. Along the way, I also found that to seek what was hidden underneath the surface of things can often create another search, another adventure, another truth, and another, and another, ad infinitum.

In this special edition of our little column that could, outside of time and space and any particular season (hey, I’m supposed to be on hiatus, so shhh…), we take a look at not just one, but two films that have recently hit the streets on DVD. One is an intoxicating—literally, in some cases—look at the hidden relationship between humans and plants, and the other explores the hidden zone between reality and cyber space with those who live a vast majority of their life on the net. So, we awake from our Hidden Flick hibernation for a brief look at two documentaries worth checking out for their secret knowledge about some unknown person/place/thing, but should in some odd way. After all, to walk through the Dark Forest of the Great Unknown is the first step towards destroying fear and ignorance (he writes in some sort of wacky George Lucas/Clone Wars way, but, man, after 75 editions, I can quote the Bearded Skywalker even if he almost killed Star Wars).

Our first film, Amazonia: Healing with Sacred Plants was directed by Miguel Heded Abraham, and produced and narrated by Alberto Villoldo, who is a psychologist, medical anthropologist and author. What is also quite apparent is that Villoldo knows a great deal about shamanic healing methods, which appear to be very real within the depths of the Amazon. He has studied in that region for two-plus decades, and during his travels, he has witnessed and experienced the profound healing power of the shamans who practice these rituals, specifically those who toil and transform along Peru’s Madre de Dios River.

And I use the word rituals with the utmost respect, as the film details in an eloquent way how the vine of the souls, known as Ayahuasca, illuminated by the shamans, brings truth, enlightenment and a powerful healing agent not found anywhere else on this planet. What is most telling about the passages contained within the film is that healers who live in this region truly believe, trust, practice and reap stunning benefits from this medicinal knowledge. And if there has been anything I have been trying to do with writing about all of these hidden flicks it is that I have been subconsciously searching for hidden wisdom that can guide one beyond any normal man-made path. This film details one way.

Our second film, When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet was directed by Robert Kenner, Oscar-nominated director of Food, Inc. Whereas, I am a silent man, who respects solitude, privacy, and the ethereal echoes of a distant mysterious force to educate the soul, I must admit that I was absolutely spellbound by a film about sharing space, literally cyber space, with someone—indeed, some stranger one has never even met.

The documentary is not some lazy ‘talking heads’ work detailing bland and ordinary stories of love lost and found on the Internet. Instead, it offers unique subjects who have locked into a more lasting love online; in some cases, with complete strangers; in others, not so much, but who all fell in love, and the net has had profound results as anyone living in the early 21st century can attest. The film delivers in a most unexpectedly surprising way—reeling off one sweet twist after another, as the silent passion enfolds.

Bliss ain’t always at the bar; often, it can be found while someone is alone at home, and their future significant other, some soul lost in cyber space, finds them online. Or, in the case of our initial film about the healing power of shamans and the use of Ayahuasca, the vine of the souls, one only needs to head towards the Amazon, the land of the Seeing Eye Shaman, and find that the power of wisdom can also come in a quite hidden fashion that is right out there in the open. One just needs to go and search for the elusive answers.

- Randy Ray is on Hidden Flick hiatus; in the meantime, hey, Happy Holidays, and for further healing, please e-mail Shapiro and thank him for the Phish 11/22/97 SBD bliss.

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