From Shock to Awe film premiere at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ


As part of the team (I’m credited with hospitality and moral support) that helped in the creation of the movie From Shock to Awe I was invited to participate in the film’s premiere at the Illuminate Film Festival where it received an Honorable Mention for Social Impact in the category of Debut Feature Competition Jury Prize and it received the Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling.



Including a $5000 cash prize, the Mangurama Award goes to to the most transformative non-fiction film that exhibits a strong story arc, compelling subjects and high production value. From Shock to Awe follows the journey of returned U.S. combat veterans as they abandon pharmaceutical drugs to seek relief through the controversial, mind-expanding world of cannabis, ayahuasca and MDMA, known as ecstasy.


Here is the trailer:

Here is the Q&A with the filmmakers and participants immediately following the premiere:


Here is the first review of the film from Broadway World: 

The next screening of the movie will be at the Los Angeles Psychedelic Science Symposium (LAPSS) taking place on June 22-23, 2018 in the UCLA Ackerman Grand Ballroom.


Additionally at the LAPSS event, Matt Kahl, Brooke Cooley and Michael Cooley and myself will all be on a panel together entitled: Veterans Helped by the Medicine.

Our moderator will be Nishi Money, MD.  Nishi is a former US Air Force Flight Surgeon, with further specialization in preventive and integrative medicine.  She has recently transitioned from active duty military and is very involved with the treatment and care of military veterans and their families.

Her most recent positions include serving as the Senior Medical Advisor for the Department of Homeland Security’s US Customs and Border Protection, where she oversaw the comprehensive treatment and wellness of 60,000 national and international Border Forces, and the Medical Director for Sonoma County Native American Health System for Northern California.

Her other positions have included: Global Chief of US Air Force Medical Fitness, Head Physician Epidemiologist for Department of Defense (DOD) Global Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance and Response Systems, and DoD’s original Chief Medical Officer for Integrative Medicine for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The Documentary and Film Night takes place Friday June 22nd from 7:30 – 10:00 pm.

FROM SHOCK TO AWE, Luc Conte & Janine Sagert, 7:45 – 8:15 PM

A vivid and memorable piece of filmmaking. A story of salvation told through the eyes of two vets who came back from Afghanistan wracked by guilt about the violence and death they participated in.  We follow as they find a way to save their souls using plant medicines.

Also Robert Barnhart, Associate Producer for From Shock to Awe will be screening his film A New Understanding – The Science of Psilocybin at the event immediately preceding From Shock to Awe. 

A NEW UNDERSTANDING – The Science of Psilocybin, Robert J. Barnhart, 7:00 – 7:40 PM

What if we had a microscope for observing the mind, a telescope for seeing the soul? A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin follows research meant to produce that tool and provide effective new treatments for depression and the existential distress of the terminally ill.

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About Ian Benouis

Ian is a West Point graduate, former US Army officer, Blackhawk helicopter pilot and combat veteran. He is Patient Number One for the Mission Within which treats special operators with PTSD, TBI and addiction using iboga and toad in Mexico. Ian has been helping wounded veterans for over 7 years. Ian has moderated numerous veteran’s panels including the MAPS Psychedelic Science conference in 2018 in Austin and the Bufo Congress in 2019 in Mexico City. He has founded an ONAC church chapter which was later returned to the parent church. He is a founder of a Santo Daime church which is the US chapter of a Brazilian government approved church and has founded a number of other medicine churches in the US with his law partner Greg Lake. Ian participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama. This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs and was the largest special operations deployment ever conducted. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California military base was shut down. Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture. He has been healing himself for over 30 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany. Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990’s. He is a casualty of the drug war having been arrested for cannabis while in law school. Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel. He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas. Ian was previously the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years. Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic. In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo trained shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers. Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT. This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary in March 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine. He is member of the team supporting the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that chronicles the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis. This movie premiered at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ on June 2, 2018 where it captured the inaugural Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling. Ian Benouis’ Drug War Story as part of Psymposia’s Drug War Stories – Catharsis on the Mall: A Vigil for Healing the Drug War. This was part of the Drug Policy Reform Conference November 20, 2016 in Washington, DC.