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Local ‘fungi’ filmmaker earns international praise

Locations: News Published

Hamilton Pevec premiered his latest film — “Azurescens: Through a Blue Lens” — at the third annual Fungi Film Festival, hosted in Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 8, 2022. Locals had the opportunity to view the film, which has since earned many major awards, at a locally-hosted fungi film festival on Dec. 20, 2022.

The documentary has won such awards as “Most Edutaining” at the premier festival and “Best Documentary-Short” at the 8 & HalFilm Awards, and is an official selection for the American Golden Picture International Film Festival, 8 & HalFilm festival in Rome, Italy, and the Nature Without Borders International Film Festival.

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“Azurescens” is the first part of a series that Pevec is currently working on, which follows the anecdotal stories of mushroom hunters and users as well as the importance of respectful relationships within the study of mycology. The first film focuses on a specific strain of psychedelic mushrooms, Psilocybe azurescens, which are found only along a small, undisclosed area of the North American West Coast.

Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, have been a growing public topic in recent years due to several places in the United States decriminalizing their possession and use, including Colorado, as well as medical studies weighing the benefits and risks of their use for medicinal and recreational purposes.

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Pevec sat down with The Sopris Sun to discuss his film’s production process, his relationship and connection to mycology and what is next for the film and himself.

While discussing the contents of the film, which has a total runtime of 32 minutes, Pevec stated that because Psilocybe is a “big genus,” his documentary short is merely a “snapshot.”

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“In order to do something comprehensive, you would need 30 hours to get into it. It could be a multi-season series to cover all the interesting things about psychedelic mushrooms … but the best thing about being acknowledged on the festival circuit is it legitimizes the effort that you put into [the film] on a level that is more exclusive than the internet. Part of that legitimization is that you’re in the company of other legitimate filmmakers,” Pevec stated.

He also discussed the film’s production, sharing that the idea for the film came to him when he heard about this unique mushroom, which at the time he knew little about. He learned that it was considered the most potent magic mushroom found in nature, and that it was a type of right of passage for mushroom hunters to go and look for it.

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“All of those things were very enticing to me,” he said. “So the reason I filmed it was because I was planning to go out to California like I do every year, to hunt mushrooms in November, go for Thanksgiving, my brother’s birthday, and because it was off-season, I can go there and get another whole season of mushroom hunting in.

“So my brother said, ‘Hey, my friend is planning a trip to hunt azzies, do you want to come along?’ And I said, ‘Hell yeah. Can I film it?’ He said, ‘Yep,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, this is it!’”

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Pevec stated that the road trip he took with his brother to the West Coast became the primary photography for the film, and that it was “an opportunity that he could not miss” to help viewers understand the complex network of relationships that surround this particular mushroom.

“I have a unique data set from doing documentary work, collecting data and anecdotes from all different kinds of people using the medicine for all different reasons,” he said.

As for what’s next, Pevec has already done a majority of shooting and principal photography for the next installment of his series, which will focus on matsutake mushrooms, the only value-controlled mushroom on the Japanese market. Another part of the series, which will come later, will focus on the agarikon mushroom, a rare and “precious” medicinal mushroom that grows on old Douglas fir trees and is considered one of the most potent antivirals known to science.

When asked how he views the storytelling of these fungi and those who use them for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, Pevec told The Sopris Sun, “I’m just thrilled to have the privilege to tell these stories of healing. Not only are they compelling narratives, but they also have this greater social impact, because if someone suffers from something that there is no treatment for and then discovers that there is a treatment, it can affect people’s lives.”

“Azurescens: Through a Blue Lens” is still on the film festival circuit. While Pevec says that his film won’t be free for public viewing for a while, it is currently available to rent or purchase on Vimeo at

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