Six individuals travel to meet a Shaman in Mexico to have an ancient ritual in which they ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms with the intention of alleviating their issues and discomforts with themselves.

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Little Saints is the personal journey of six individuals from the United States, along with Director Oliver Quintanilla, they travel to the South of Mexico to meet a Shaman and take part of an ancient ritual for psychological and physical healing, a ritual that provides a very unique opportunity for spiritual advancement. Through the ingestion of psilocybe mushrooms, and guided by Mazatec Shaman Natalia, each member gets the opportunity to first acknowledge the reason why their ritual is being made, then during the journey, they get to look at those issues and find answers within themselves that could help them make the necessary adjustments; through prayer and energy cleansings, the Shaman purifies their spirits.

The storyline follows Tas Limur and Jaime, a young married couple dealing with relationship struggles and personal goals; Sergio a man who faces depression after divorcing his wife; Natasha is dealing with a personal loss; David, a young man who’s struggling with asthma; and Lorrie, a woman suffering from social anxiety.

Mixed with the storyline, specialists share their knowledge and experience about this powerful way to open the unconscious: Jose Luis Sanchez, Catholic Priest in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca; Jeremy Narby, Ph. D., Anthropologist and Author, 'Shamans Through Time', 'Intelligence in Nature' and 'The Cosmic Serpent'; Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., Psychiatrist and Author, 'Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science', 'Realms of the Human Unconscious', 'The Adventure of Self Discovery', among others; Charles S. Grob, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine, Author, 'Hallucinogens: A Reader'; Richard Sandore M.D., Author, 'Living the Steps to Vibrancy; Juan Casimiro, Mazatec Cultural Researcher, Author of the First Grade Elementary Textbook, published by the Secretary of Public Education, titled 'Mazatec Language', in which two lessons about the sacred mushrooms are included; and Renato Pineda, Traditional Medicine Researcher, participated in the writing and research of the 'Traditional Mazatec Medicine Manual'.

During my childhood I went to a Catholic school. Religious studies was a very interesting class, but I felt that the concepts of what is considered Divine had no logical explanation, the answer to my concerns always was: “You must have Faith”. When I asked what it meant, I was simply told “You must believe”. At the time, it made absolutely no sense to me. By high school I already saw myself as an Atheist, and also as a Nihilist, placing a higher value on experience over intellect and spirituality.

During my mid 20’s I had an altered state of consciousness experience, in which I realized that there was something bigger than myself, something that was my source of energy, connected to me and to every other living creature in the planet, that energy source was not only “out there”, but everywhere, inside and outside of me and every other being. It was a very powerful realization that shattered my most basic beliefs and ways of being. I saw the Sun as a provider of energy that creates life, and beyond, there was a formless God, the source of it all. On a personal level, it was like going to therapy for a whole year in a single night, the peace and tranquility I felt the next morning was like nothing I had experienced before. That’s how my interest in Shamanism started and it was then when I learned about the Mexican mushroom shamanic rituals.

While doing research I found that for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, have used mushrooms during rituals for healing the body and spirit, and ultimately, once the spirit has been cleansed and purified, to talk to God; I traveled to the region in search of a Shaman, that’s when I met Natalia. I was very impressed at her simplicity and it was obvious to me that she possessed knowledge about the human soul and its function in the spirit world that very few others have.

I proposed her to shoot a documentary and she said no, without any further discussion, she turned around and walked away clearly disturbed at my request.

After visiting Natalia multiple times for five years, she finally agreed to let me shoot during an evening ritual. I came back to Los Angeles and decided to invite others to come down to Mexico with me to have a mushroom experience and determine if they would also benefit from it, if they would achieve physical and psychological healing or possibly getting in touch with their higher selves, or to have a direct communion with God.

With the passing of time, I learned that faith, has nothing to do with believing in something that doesn’t exist in the physical world. But it has to do with the very real experience of sensing a powerful force within myself, that is available to me whenever I choose to access it and nurture it.

  • NATALIA MARTÍNEZ

    Natalia is a Shaman from Oaxaca, Mexico. She was raised by her father, whom was also a traditional Mazatec Shaman. She received the call from God to serve at seven years old, but it was until she was an adult and a widow that she started practicing and helping others. She is a healer, a provider of spiritual guidance and energy cleansings during psychedelic mushroom rituals that help the individual to find and retrieve its soul in order to receive divine help and healing from God.

  • LORRIE WESSEL

    Lorrie is a spiritual body worker. She grew up in Chicago and has been experiencing social anxiety and depression most of her life. As a young adult she was much the loner, she was more comfortable being invisible and had difficulties relating to others and being in groups. In her early 20’s she chose to talk to a psychologist but it wasn’t until she started working with altered states of consciousness that she started seeing progress and feeling at ease with herself around others.

  • DAVID CHAVES

    David grew up in Rhode Island, both of his parents are musicians, he plays the guitar and composes his own songs. At 16 years old he had a band called “Squirrel Cage” and achieved some success in the Boston indie music scene. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, but he can’t find the motivation and feels regularly depressed. He suffers from asthma that gets triggered specially around cats. By visiting a shaman in Mexico he wishes to release his fears of failure.

  • JAIME BLAKELY

    Jaime was born in Orange County, California. She grew up in Huntington Harbor and lives in Hollywood. She moved to Manchester, England to study sound engineering, where she met and married Tas. She has been struggling with stomach pains that usually manifest after experiencing anger or difficulties in her relationship. She has read several books about Shamanism and she feels it could lead her to understand the source of her ailments and eventually get rid of her physical symptoms.

  • TAS LIMUR

    Tas was raised in Questia, Bangladesh. He went to Manchester, England to study sound engineering, where he met Jaime, within a year, they got married and moved to Hollywood. He works as an editor and a graphic designer. He is a highly emotional person and has trouble controlling himself, it has affected his marriage. He feels it is also the source of a block in his creativity, he is starving to express himself through art, but doesn’t seem to be able to break free from his internal chatter.

  • SERGIO DIAZVELEZ

    Sergio is from Mexico. He is a lawyer and has lived in different parts of the country. He recently got divorced and went through a very difficult separation process that made him fall into a deep depression that doesn’t seem to be able to get out of. He moved to Los Angeles for his son to attend college. He left his daughter behind with his ex-wife, unable to see her, his depression got even more acute. Through a shamanic ritual he is looking forward to release himself from all negativity.

  • NATASHA IBRAHIM

    Natasha is from North Hollywood, California, where she lives with her family. She has an interest in plants and animals, she wishes to find a job where she can help others and make a difference in their lives. She works as a personal assistant just outside of Los Angeles. She believes in God but not in religion, she considers herself spiritual and even though she is young she wants to be a mother. She is dealing with a personal loss and wants to come to terms with it.

  • JOSÉ LUIS SÁNCHEZ

    José Luis is a Catholic Priest in the Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca Parish. He has worked to inculturate the Catholic and Mazatec faiths in a way that both beliefs see each other eye to eye and not from superior to inferior. The biggest difficulty is the fact that Catholicism is based on reason and the Indigenous rituals are based on symbols. He believes it is necessary to start a sincere open dialogue with the indigenous Mazatec people in order to enrich everyone's concept of God.

  • JEREMY NARBY, PHD

    Jeremy is an anthropologist and writer. He grew up in Canada and Switzerland, studied history at the University of Canterbury, and received a doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University. He spent several years living with the Ashaninca in the Peruvian Amazon cataloging indigenous uses of rainforest resources to help combat ecological destruction. He has been working as the Amazonian projects director for the Swiss NGO, Nouvelle Planète.

  • CHARLES S. GROB, MD

    Charles is Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He conducted the first government-approved study of MDMA, and was the principal investigator of an international biomedical psychiatric research project in the Brazilian Amazon of the plant, ayahuasca. He is currently conducting an investigation of the effects of psilocybin on anxiety in cancer patients.

  • STANISLAV GROF, MD, PHD

    Stanislav’s over 50 years career has covered research of the therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This includes laboratory research of psychedelics - LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and tryptamine derivatives and later research of psychedelic psychotherapy. He was Principal Investigator of the psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia, followed by research of psychedelic psychotherapy in the U.S.A.

  • RICHARD SANDORE, MD

    Growing up and living in the Chicago metropolitan area, Richard’s careers have included the practice of medicine as an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, alternative therapies practitioner, spiritual teacher and guide, adventure expedition leader to remote areas of Peru and Brazil, and writer. There’s no doubt in his mind that all illnesses are self-inflicted, that they are brought onto the self, no matter what they are, what manifests in the physical body is rooted on an energy-thought pattern.

  • JUAN CASIMIRO

    Juan works as cultural promoter, he focuses on the development of the Mazatec language in elementary schools, in the Huautla de Jiménez region. He is the writer of the 1st grade textbook in Mazatec, published by the Secretary of Public Education. He says that the Mazatec ancestral knowledge related to the use of psilocybe mushrooms as medicine, must be thought to their children. The lessons in the book put emphasis in the fact that it is a sacred ritual performed by a Shaman.

  • RENATO PINEDA

    Renato works as a researcher at the Federal Commission for the Development of Indigenous People. He is one of the authors of the Traditional Mazatec Medicine Manual, in which it is established the existence of supernatural beings that look after the Earth, like its rivers, mountains and every other place. People must take care of these places to keep nature in harmony, any abuse of the natural resources reflects on a curse and negative energy that transforms into physical sickness.

  • OLIVER QUINTANILLA

    Oliver is Little Saints’ Director, Producer and Editor. He visited Natalia for five years before she allowed him to film during an evening mushroom ritual. Then on the sixth consecutive summer he arrived with a small film crew and six individuals from the United States that were looking to relief their personal ailments. His goal was to discover if they would also achieve a positive outcome and find resolution to their physical, psychological or existential issues, like he did in the previous years.

  • OLIVER QUINTANILLA

    Director, Producer, Editor. Oliver was born in Mexico and emigrated to Los Angeles in his early 20’s, he worked on the camera department of several film productions. While shooting some music videos and commercials he found cinéma verité documentary films as one of his favorites styles. Oaxaca Day of the Dead was his first completed project. Then with the support of National Geographic’s All Roads Film, family, friends, associates and even some strangers it came Little Saints.

  • CARLOS LOZANO

    Director of Photography, Camera Operator. While in college he started shooting music videos in 16mm. After graduation he got an associate’s degree in Advanced Cinematography at the International Film and TV School in San Juan de los Baños, Cuba. Back in Mexico he continued shooting music videos for renowned bands from the latino music scene. He has shot over 100 commercials and was the DP for the Mexican unit for the feature film “Sueño” starring John Leguizamo.

  • PEPE GUEVARA

    Camera Operator. Pepe is a DP graduated with a Communication major from Tec de Monterrey. He specialized in cinematography at Rockport College in the US and at the NFTS in the UK. He has participated in several Film Festivals with 5 feature length documentaries. He has been shooting alternative content for MTV, Nickelodeon, Coca Cola, American Express, Comedy Central, among others. He directed "La Niña Blanca" a documentary that aired in TVE, Spain.

  • RAMIRO GARZA CANTÚ

    Sound Designer, Music Composer. Ramiro studied at the "Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey". He continued his education in Electronic Music, Composition and Sound Design. He graduated with a Social Communications major from Universidad Regiomontana. He has worked with Mexican and international production companies, as music composer and sound producer for Films, TV, Web and Radio. He currently works at his own studio in Monterrey, Mexico.

  • WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF
    (In order of appearance)
    Natalia Martínez
    José M. Sánchez
    Jaime Blakely
    Oliver Quintanilla
    Natasha Ibrahim
    Choudhury Taslimur
    David Chaves
    Sergio Valdes
    Lorreta Wessel
    Juan Casimiro
    Renato Pineda
    Jeremy Narby
    Fausto Martínez
    Efraín Martínez
    María Martínez
    Richard Sandore
    Charles S. Grob
    Stanislav Grof
    Mazatec Shaman
    Catholic Priest
    Shaman’s Patient
    Filmmaker
    Shaman’s Patient
    Shaman’s Patient
    Shaman’s Patient
    Shaman’s Patient
    Shaman’s Patient
    Mazatec Cultural Promoter
    Traditional Medicine Researcher
    Ph.D., Anthropologist, Author
    Natalia's Son
    Natalia's Grandson
    Natalia's Grandaughter
    M.D., Author
    M.D., Author
    M.D., Ph.D., Psychiatrist, Author
  • Trina Casillas
    Oscar Quintanilla
    Jesús Espinoza
    Orfelinda Quintanilla
    Oliver Quintanilla
    Executive Producer
    Executive Producer
    Executive Producer
    Associate Producer
    Producer
    RO Films Production Services Mexico
    Roberto Canales
    Fernanda Fuentes
    Dante Casas
    Mateo Vasconcelos
    Executive Producer
    Line Producer
    Production Coordinator
    Driver, Runner
  • Oliver Quintanilla

    Carlos Lozano
    Pepe Guevara
    Ricardo Carbonell
    Gabriela Retes
    Oliver Quintanilla
    David Ferra
    Director

    Director of Photography
    Camera
    Additional Camera
    Additional Camera
    Additional Camera
    Assistant Camera
  • Oliver Quintanilla
    Stuart Ferreyra
    Francisco Ortiz
    Derek Dresda
    Blanka Kovacs
    Ignacio Recondo
    Post Production

    Ramiro Garza
    Ramiro Garza
    Tribu

    Robert Vient
    Jenaro Díaz

    Juan Carlos Gomez
    Lynnette Quintanilla
    Editor
    Colorist / Post Supervisor
    Online Editor
    Assistant Editor
    Online Assistant Editor
    Trailer Editor
    Timecode Multimedia

    Sound Design
    Music Composer
    Ometeok - Ending Song

    Title Art Director
    Title Animation

    Assistant Director (México)
    Assistant Director (Switzerland/USA)
  • Mazatec-Spanish Translation
    Maria Martínez, Efraín Martínez, Damaris Díaz

    Spanish-English Translation
    Omar Ponce, Oliver Quintanilla

    English Transcription
    Ashley Pruet, Rick Sabatini, Zakaria Skiredj

    Spanish Transcription
    Lolybel Negrim, Marta Arman, Jeser Garcia, Tomas Carr-Rollitt
    Patricia Pinedo, Ana M. Gonzalez, Carlos Estefano Garcia-Iturri
    Moviola Digital
    Timecode Multimedia
    Elkins-Jones Insurance
    Brenda Chavez
    Camera Rental
    Post Production Services
    Insurance Services
    Legal Services
  • Special Thanks

    Ariadne Pineda, Ibadet Dervishaj and Francene Blythe
    All Roads Film Project - National Geographic

    Lucius Werthmüller
    Welt Psychedelik Forum and Gaia Media Foundation

    Fernando Peña, Ricardo González, Arturo Morales, Edgar Frutos
    Omar Maldonado, Rafael de la Peña, Fernando Olavarrieta
    Raúl Martínez, José Marcelino Ortiz, Derek Black, Yang Perez
    Eugene Blunt, Moises Tehuitzil, Alvaro Perez-Betancourt
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