The Shawi Way

The most important thing for us is the land where we were born and the rivers where we get our water. A Shawi child or adult can be happy where they are if the land provides them with everything. The earth is like a mother who gives you food and things to drink.

Rafael Chanchari, Shawi teacher, shaman & philosopher

Open Call: Writers, Artists & Filmmakers

Real Lives Multicultural Association (AT) and Voces Indígenas (Peru) is offering a workshop/art residency in the Peruvian Amazon. It is open to writers, visual artists and filmmakers.

The workshop is a collaboration with Indigenous Communities to raise funds for Voces Indigenas: Empowering Indigenous Youth. Applications are open now until March 30th.

Workshop Highlights

a ten day storytelling workshop for international writers, artists and filmmakers submerging
into the lives, culture and nature of the Peruvian Amazon and its indigenous people.

Peruvian Crossroads

Peruvian Crossroads

Iquitos, Peru, is linked to the outside world by air and by river making it the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road.

Rainforest Gateway

Rainforest Gateway

Located at the intersection of three rivers, the city of Iquitos vibrates culturally with a variety of Indigenous people and riverine peasants from the entire Peruvian Amazon.

Acclaimed Storytellers

Acclaimed Storytellers

Masterclasses and fieldwork will be led by award-winning creatives from the fine arts, writing, film and cultural heritage.

Indigenous Mentors

Indigenous Mentors

Participants will live, work and learn directly from indigenous coaches gaining profound insight into rainforest culture.

Practical Masterclasses

Practical Masterclasses

Daily sessions will cover the challenges that creators have to face in defining and delivering works, including best practices.

Artist Residence

Artist Residence

With ample time for independent fieldwork, each participant or group will develop a short piece under guidance and supervision.

Inspiring Creativity

Whoever sees the Amazon from the perspective of Amazonians will understand that our stories work as “seeing instruments” that help us develop an understanding of the larger physical and spiritual world and entire bioregions. These are not just stories for entertainment.

Leoncio Ramírez Vásquez

The Peruvian Filmmaker

The river is life. We are aware that spirits live in the river. There is the mother of the deep pools, the Yakuruna and the pink dolphins. There is also the Yakumama, which is the mother of water. You have to be careful with these spirits when you go to the river.

Rafael Chanchari

The Shawi Shaman

You have to actually experience something before you have a story to tell. Arrive, sit, and experience the moment using all five senses. What defines this place, this time, these people…this story?

Mark Abouzeid

The Nomad Storyteller

“The sun and clouds play cards to see who gets to take midday.”

Juan Carlos Galeano

The Amazonian Poet



Proceeds from the workshop will be used to support Voces Indígenas Pilot Project (Peru): Empowering indigenous youth through Documentary Filmmaking.

Learn more

The Team

Rafael Chanchari Pizuri
Juan Carlos Galeano
Sophie Beer
Leoncio Ramírez Vásquez
Mark Abouzeid
Rafael Chanchari Pizuri

Rafael Chanchari Pizuri

Shawi teacher, shaman & philosopher | Peru

Born in the Peruvian Amazon, Rafael Chanchari Pizuri is a philosopher and Amazonian from the Shawi ethnic group. His spiritual ecological discourse, rooted in indigenous cosmovisions of the indigenous cultures of the Peruvian Amazon, foregrounds the current environmental challenges and complex symbolic narratives of indigenous Amazonians.

He is also a shaman and a teacher, who has contributed a great deal to the education of indigenous bilingual teachers of many ethnic groups in the Zungarococha FORMABIAP-AIDESEP Educational Center in Iquitos, Peru.

Featured in award-winning documentaries and feature articles, Rafael is uniquely able to transmit a holistic cosmology of the Shawi people, changing eco-system and traditional mythology with ease of storytelling that captivates his listeners.

Juan Carlos Galeano

Juan Carlos Galeano

Poet, filmmaker, professor | Colombia/USA

Juan Carlos Galeano is an Amazonian poet, documentary filmmaker, and essayist whose fieldwork on symbolic narratives of riverine and forest people in the Amazon basin resulted in his production of a comprehensive collection of storytelling (Folktales of the Amazon, ABC-CLIO, 2008).

As a filmmaker, he made a plea for environmental justice, threatened landscapes and cultures of Amazonia in his documentary, The Trees Have a Mother (Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 2008).

He has published several books of poetry and has translated the works of North American poets into Spanish. His poetry inspired by Amazonian cosmologies in the modern world is published in international journals such as Casa de las Américas (Cuba), The Atlantic Monthly and Ploughshares (U.S.). 

He teaches Latin American poetry and Amazonian Cultures at Florida State University. Galeano is currently the director of the FSU Service/Learning Program: Journey into Amazonia in Perú. ​

Sophie Beer

Sophie Beer

Object Artist, Art Historian, Cultural Manager | Austria

Sophie Beer grew up in Vienna and, from an early age, learned to appreciate both rural and urban life, nature and culture. Since then, these seeming contrasts have evolved as an expression of inclusive diversity and not of opposites.

Beginning her career in cultural management, she served 9 years as a supervisor at the Wiener Festwochen in Vienna and continues to manage contemporary art collections for high net worth individuals. In 2012, Sophie started to follow her passion in jewellery design and goldsmithing attending Le Arti Orafe Contemporary Jewellery School (LAO) in Florence, Italy.

Despite being trained as a goldsmith and designer, she chooses to be an object artist. Her pieces speak of memories, relationships and connections between human beings. Her focus is to use ‘wearable art‘, made of unconventional materials, as a tool to communicate stories and to open up a dialogue.

Since 2015, she has collaborated on films with Cedars Productions in Europe and Lebanon in the areas of cultural heritage and production. She is the author of the book “The Hans Schullin Collection – Jewelry Design of the 1990s”, and the founder of Real Lives Multicultural Association.

Leoncio Ramírez Vásquez

Leoncio Ramírez Vásquez

Photographer, producer, Peruvian Amazon expert | Peru

Based in Iquitos, Leoncio is an expert in local cultural realities, indigenous communities and rainforest film production. He has received numerous recognitions for his films, including “El Rio” at Ethnografilm Festival in Paris 2019.

As a uniquely knowledgeable and experienced audiovisual artist of the Peruvian Amazon, “Leo” works as a photographer, producer and teacher. Mentored by Mario Acha, an internationally known documentary filmmaker, “Leo” grew up in Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon and was a general producer of the documentary “Amazónico Soy” (“I am Amazonian”).

He is currently the director of Xinguito Producción Audiovisual and for many years he coordinated the Audio Visual Production unit of La Restinga and participated in itinerant audiovisual workshops for Kinomada (Iquitos,2009; Quebec,2010; Habana, 201; Mexico 2013).

His documenting of various sustainable development projects for international and Peruvian NGOs has contributed to the cultural continuity of indigenous peoples and riverine inhabitants of the Amazon basin.

Mark Abouzeid

Mark Abouzeid

Filmmaker, photojournalist, storyteller | USA/Italy/Lebanon

Mark Abouzeid is a multidisciplinary professional whose work resides at the crossroads of exploration, innovation, inspiration and education. Over his extended career, he has worked in International Economics, Technology Development, Innovation Theory, Photojournalism, Documentary Filmmaking and Cultural Heritage.

Today, Mark collaborates on projects around the world to protect cultural heritage, build links between communities, raise awareness of pressing risks, and transmit traditional knowledge to future generations. Having moved countries for the first time at 10 months of age, Abouzeid has lived and worked in over 35 countries including the polar arctic, bedouin deserts and countless seas.

He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, photojournalist, author and fine artist. Currently, he is the Director of Filmmaking for Real Lives Multicultural Association.

In their words

Footage Credits: Rafael Chanchari from “El Rio” by Juan Carlos Galeano; “Interview with multi-dimensional artist, Mark Abouzeid” from Rai TV; Juan Carlos Galeano reading at Teatro Pablo Tobon Uribe; “The memory artist, Sophie Beer” from Cedars Productions.

Contacts & Info

The experience will have a total value of 5000 Euros. The selection of the 15 participants will be made through an international call (currently open).

Proceeds from the workshop will be applied to scholarships for local community members participating in, Voces Indígenas: Empowering Indigenous Youth through Indie Filmmaking.

Essential Dates:

  • Release of call for applications: 30th January 2020
  • Closing of call for applications: 30th March 2020
  • Publication of selected participants: 6th April 2020
  • Tuition deposit deadline (€2500) : 20th April 2020
  • Final tuition payment deadline (€2500): 11th May 2020
  • Arrival Iquitos: 24th June 2020

Your place will be held once the deposit is paid but your participation will only be guaranteed once the entire tuition has been received. There will be no refunds of amounts paid, so we highly recommend trip interruption or cancellation insurance.

**If the selected student has not paid their tuition fee by the deadline, their place will automatically pass to the next student on the waiting list.

Contact Us
  1. WriterVisual ArtistFilmmaker

To receive more information and a workshop application, please complete all fields correctly. The address must be valid as this will be used to ship your workshop pack and equipment. Incomplete forms submitted will be ignored.


Any information supplied will be used solely for the purposes of this workshop and archived after the completion. You will not receive any contact from Real Lives or its partners except with regard to this workshop and your application.

Rainforest Storytelling Workshop

Where: Iquitos, Peru

When: June 24th – July 4th 2020

Who: Writers, artists and filmmakers

Level: Not for beginners. This is a practical workshop for passionate amateurs and adventurous professionals with autonomy in their work process.

Workshop fee includes:

  • All accommodations
  • Three daily meals for 10 days.
  • Availability of drinking water 24h.
  • Iquitos Airport Transfers
  • Local Transportation in motorboat/canoe/vehicle for location visits and excursions.
  • Local Guides – translators.
  • Specialized Equipment including drones, audio recording and field cameras.
  • Individual Field Kits (Value €500): 1 DJI Osmo Pocket, 1 art-quality sketchbook, 1 USB with background information, and 1 dry sack to protect your gear.

**field kits will be mailed to participants 30 days prior to the workshop after receipt of final payment.

Workshop fee does not include:

  • All international/domestic flights
  • drinks or personal snacks in Iquitos and at the lodge
  • travel insurance


Real Lives Multicultural Association
Gleinstaetten 5a
Gleinstaetten (Austria)

+43 699 1155 9243

** Real Lives Multicultural Association active members receive a 5% discount.