Private Project

Authenticity: Five Paths of Ayurveda

Five thousand years ago in India, medicines were prepared with green plants, herbs, and minerals; ancient manuscripts were preserved on bark and stone. This was Ayurveda, the “knowledge for long life,” the oldest healing system in the world. Yet throughout its history, practitioners have struggled to achieve “authentic” ayurvedic practice. Authenticity presents five institutions representing contemporary forms of treatment and philosophy. From a modern medical school, through tourist resorts, spiritual centers, and panchakarma treatments, to the oldest center in the world, this film examines the multiplicity of practices in contemporary Kerala, providing audiences an overview of Ayurveda in the modern world. Authenticity may be realized in a multiplicity of ways.

  • Wesley Shrum
    Brother Time, Chick, Women of the Storm, Bounce
  • Antony Palackal
  • Paige Miller
  • Susan Arnold
  • Wesley Shrum
    Brother Time
  • Wesley Shrum
    Brother Time, Women of the Storm, Light Years
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  • Runtime:
    18 minutes 41 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
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Director Biography - Wesley Shrum

Wesley Shrum is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Video Ethnography Lab at Louisiana State University as well as Executive Director of the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris, France.

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Director Statement

We began this film in 2011 when we were lucky to meet a former physicist who works at Kottakkal, believed by many to be heirs of the ancient legacy of Ayurveda, the oldest system of healing in the world. What struck us, as filmmakers, was their budding collaboration with a research institute in Trivandrum and how they sought to build modern Ayurvedic practice with, rather than in opposition to the tenets of modern science.

We wondered how that squared with the "authentic" practices that they were committed to upholding? That provided our question for the next several years, as we explored five types of modern Ayurvedic establishments, and their quest to answer similar questions. Each of the five seemed to us to represent a different approach, and each one surprised us in different ways, as the distinction between modern and traditional ways seemed to blur and even disappear.