This film, by Luis Eduardo Luna, is one of the very first films – if not the first – documenting ayahuasca among mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon. It was part of Luna’s field work carried out in the Iquitos area during July and August 1981, concentrated on the practices of Don Emilio Andrade Gomez, a “vegetalista” living 12 km from the city. The film Don Emilio and his Little Doctors (1982) was made during that time. It is a complement to Luna’s doctoral dissertation “Vegetalismo. Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon”, published in Stockholm in 1986.
Don Emilio was born in Iquitos in 1918. When he was 14 years old, and while working in the Amazon river, near the mouth of the Napo river, he took ayahuasca for the first time. He did it in order to curarse, a term that implies the cleansing and strengthening of the body. When he took ayahuasca for the fifth time, while keeping to the prescribed diet imposed by his teacher, an old man with a flute and a drum appeared in his visions to teach him icaros, magic melodies.