One of the most intriguing film and music festivals is coming to New York City, and it’s all about tripping: The Psychedelic Film and Music Festival is billed as “an ode to the exploration of altered states of consciousness created by music, art, film and psychedelia.” Its mission is “to explore the outer limits of consciousness with respect for others and the planet. To create a new paradigm for the adventurous.”
Highlights include a performance by psych-horror soundtrack musician Simon Boswell, a talk with ethnopharmacologist and botanist Dennis McKenna (brother of the late Terence McKenna), the world premiere of comedian Shane Mauss’s new film, Psychonautics, along with a post-screening discussions with Shane himself, and the world premiere of the feature documentary From Shock to Awe, about two combat veterans healing trauma with psychedelics. Check out the loads of other incredible films and performances on the festival website.
The festival runs October 1 through 6. The all-access pass is $100, or you can buy tickets to individual events instead.
This crazy lineup was organized by Daniel Abella, who agreed to talk to Psychedelic Frontier about the festival.
Daniel, thanks so much for your time. The lineup for The Psychedelic Film and Music Festival looks great!
Abella: Thank you very much. We are very proud of the festival.
What made you decide to put together a Psychedelic Film Festival? Were you inspired by music festivals, or other “transformative” events like Burning Man? Or perhaps by your own internal voyages and “eyelid movies”?
Abella: It’s all the the above. When I looked at other events, I noticed that film was missing and many were held outside major urban centers. My goal is to bring some of the tribal experience to the city where so many need it.
In your mind, what defines the psychedelic aesthetic or genre? How do you decide whether a submitted film or musical act matches the theme of the festival? What’s the difference between something psychedelic and something merely hyper-colorful and strange?
Abella: The main criterion is if it induces a major shift in consciousness in me, be film, music, art or performance. Psychedelic properties can be found in the most important films for example, Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) had a memorable psychedelic scene. It is not so much about strangeness but about the quality of otherness that is evoked in people. It is a sort of resonance that is established between ourselves and psychedelic themes.
The films, talks, and performances are especially exciting because of how diverse they are in content and tone. You are premiering From Shock to Awe, a powerful documentary about two combat veterans using psychedelics to heal trauma. You have films about Peruvian shamans, trippy puppets, and even a comedian’s psychonautic experience. What unites them?
Abella: The works are united by their capacity to heal by radically altering our consciousness from the everyday state into an ecstatic or transcendent state. The human brain remains the biggest manufacturer of psychedelic substance, be from endorphins to DMT. This is why film and music can be intoxicating to psychedelics.
Can you describe for us one piece that you’re excited about sharing with the world? Something you think will leave festival-goers impressed or moved or shocked?
Abella: What comes to mind is the debut of our stage play Timothy X’s Psychedelic Journey From PTSD To Wellness.
I wrote this production as a depiction of a solider suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder from his experiences in the military. He works with a counselor who takes him through a series of psycho-dramatic experiences and leads him to recovery. The play will use psychedelic imagery to enhance his inner turmoil and allow him to shed his demons. It will be emotional for the audience because it deals with real life issues that many in society face and we are bringing awareness. For the films we are screening, I would say three including Egil Paulsen’s The Ladder based on an old Norwegian folktale, Nick Saunders’ One Night at The Aristo based on a short story by William S. Burroughs and Translove Airwaves, a psychedelic travelogue created by Matt Levin.
What excites you most about the landscape of psychedelic culture today? Visionary art and film? Scientific research, and the advances in medicine? The music?
Abella: The real combustible mixture is when you have all those elements in one festival. Music is very visceral, scientific research is cerebral, and film and art is very soulful. All combined will lead to a total integration of the experience.
I know it’s early, but are we going to get another psychedelic film festival next year? It seems like this has the potential to be an amazing annual event.
Abella: I believe that there is no future and there is no past. There is only present and all the rest is a construct, albeit a very convenient one.
Thanks for speaking with me, Daniel. It’s been a pleasure.
Abella: Thank you, it certainly has.
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