Shuar people say “KANARTA”
when they wish you to have restful sleep, good dreams
and visions of what you truly are.


Sebastian and Pastora live in a Shuar village in the Upper Amazonia of Ecuador. Sebastian is not only a respected healer, but also a medicinal botanist who experiments with unknown plants he encounters in the forest. His unique practice seeks to cultivate new knowledge, reconnecting him with his ancestors. Pastora is one of the rare female leaders in Amazonia, who struggles to negotiate with local authorities for her community. With powerful plants such as ayahuasca, they revive and energise their perceptions of the future. These plants allow them to acquire power and a faith to cope with the obstacles they now face, given that their lives have been irreversibly affected by the modern state system. The alert eyes of the filmmaker, embodied in the drifting camera, creates a distinctive field of personal story-telling, inviting the viewers into the unique sensory experience of the life in Amazonia, where truths, meanings and images flow and take unpredictable shapes.

KANARTA: ALIVE IN DREAMS is a hybrid documentary film that draws inspirations from cinéma-vérité, direct cinema, road movie and video art, while solidly based on long-term ethnographic research.


Year & Production: 2020, United Kingdom & Japan
Running Time: 121 mins
Screening Format: DCP Stereo
Dialogue Languages: Shuar & Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French & Japanese
Location: Ecuador

Director: Akimi Ota
Cinematography, Sound Recording & Editing: Akimi Ota
Sound Design: Martin Salomonsen
Colour Grading: Aline Biz
Featuring: Sebastian Tsamarain & Pastora Tanchima
In Collaboration With: Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology

Travel Partner: Suritiak Naichap
Language Assistant: Georgina Hinojosa, Suritiak Naichap & Atilio Nuningo
Editing Consultant: Angela Torresan
Subtitles: Akimi Ota, Ana Edwards, Anthony Mui, Tom Boyd & Alex Pegge
Supported By: Wenner-Gren Foundation, JASSO, HISF & University of Manchester

『カナルタ 螺旋状の夢』あらすじ





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Best Documentary Film Award, Calcutta International Cult Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature Award, New York Movie Awards
Best Documentary Feature Award, Florence Film Awards
Best Documentary Feature Award, Beyond Earth Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature Award, Rameshwaram International Film Festival
Best Student / First-Time Director Award, Asian Cinematography Awards
Best Feature Documentary Award, New Cinema Lisbon Monthly Film Festival
Best Feature Director Award, New Cinema Lisbon Monthly Film Festival
3rd Best First Time Feature Director Award, Prague International Monthly Film Festival
Finalist, Best First Time Feature Director Award, Košice International Monthly Film Festival
Finalist, Best First Documentary Film Award, Sweden Film Awards


・“Sebastian sings, in concert with the universe”, RealTokyo Cinema, written by Masayo Fukushima
・“Kanarta: an intimate and engaging documentary about the vicissitudes of a Shuar family”, outro.magazine, written by Mattia Salvatico

・”Kanarta: Alive in Dreams”, Indy Film Library, written by Tony Moore ・「セバスティアンがうたえば、森羅万象と交信がはじまる」、RealTokyo Cinema、福嶋真砂代


The idea of producing this film, KANARTA, came out of my spiritual trauma following the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that happened in 2011. As someone from Tokyo who had been supplied with electricity generated at Fukushima, I started to question my existence as a human being - specifically as a city dweller - who consumes, exploits and destroys the land and lives of vulnerable people and other living-beings without even knowing about them. I suddenly realised that I had no awareness of the relationship I had with the environment in which I dwell and even, in fact, that I had been unaware of this ignorance. I recognised that we needed new forms of expression in order to cultivate a changed sensibility towards how we understand the relationship between ourselves and the environment.

I say new forms, as it appears not enough for us to know the fact that the Amazonian rainforest is burning, that Arctic glaciers are melting, or how many species are being extinguished each day in order for us to transform our ways of being in this world. We need to learn not only the facts and figures, but also an empathy and sensibility that strives towards, what I call, an art of relating.

This film is a collective love letter to the rainforest, a mental journey and a story of friendship, disguised as a documentary film. It is impossible to list all the incidents and hardships I endured during its making, including a death threat following a profound misunderstanding, encounters with dangerous wild animals as well as innumerable scars caused by unrelenting insect bites.

Originally conceived as an academic film, the budget was meagre and I was mostly the only member of crew. While some people might consider these conditions as a disadvantage, I experimented with the potential this offered to the full, which is represented within the cinematography and the aesthetics of the film. Indeed, filmmakers such as Jean Rouch, Wang Bing, Jonas Mekas or Kazuhiro Soda maintain extremely small-scale crews for good reason. I firmly believe that the value and quality of a film are not determined by the budget, but rather the depth of immersion and devotion. I believe that this film not only validates this approach, but also tells its own distinctive story of a hidden art of relating to nature, which has rarely been expressed despite the growing list of documentary films on Amazonia.

AKIMI OTA, Director