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There are countless talented writers and filmmakers with important messages to share, whose only goal is to help educate and enlighten. They are not looking for Hollywood deals, except perhaps as a means of spreading their ideas about consciousness to the masses. I went to Sedona to attend Illuminate, a festival dedicated to such independent productions, with an emphasis on transformation and healing.

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Illuminate is “the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema. Dedicated to spreading enlightened ideas and pushing humanity forward, Illuminate is poised to become a landmark destination event and centerpiece for conscious content.”

All of the films and events at Illuminate were focused on consciousness and transformational themes, with an additional dimension of healing rifts and schisms within ourselves and within society.

The award winning feature SOLD was the opening night film, with Gillian Anderson (of The X Files) and the director/writer Jeffrey Brown in attendance and available for questions after the showing. SOLD is the story of a Nepalese girl who is sold into an Indian brothel, with Anderson playing a photographer who sees her plight and works, along with a team of rescuers, to free her. According to Brown, while the film goes through many of the material aspects of her situation, including brutality, it is really about healing and consciousness.

Brown stressed the need to use this consciousness to heal the massive spiritual rifts on our planet – and to save our species – by honoring the divine feminine as sacred healing energy.

Another young filmmaker, Fenullla Jiwani, explained that the young girl who was the protagonist doomed the systemic brothel from the moment of her arrival by bringing with her the light of a different level of consciousness. Fenulla is an Indian actress, writer, and producer, with several films devoted to transformation and consciousness already under her belt. One of Fenulla’s films, echoing SOLD, is about the casting couch in Indian Bollywood productions.

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There were also seminars about empowering the creative process and other issues of concern to filmmakers.

Barnet Bain is the producer of such films as What Dreams May Come and The Celestine Prophecy, and the author of The Book of Doing and Being. At the festival, he spoke about his current passion for “rediscovering creativity in love, work and art” (the book’s subtitle).

Barnet removed his eyeglasses and held them up as a symbol of the massive inner conditioning our young selves undergo which teaches us the “agreements” of our reality and also squashes the inner life that is the womb of creativity.

Barnet said that our imaginations are structured and that filmmakers and artists need to develop an intimate relationship with their structural conditioning. For Barnet, the “big game” is only Consciousness.

He compared our left brain of logic and reason – comprising a world of mental stories – to the tiny sliver of the electronic spectrum that is visible – leaving an infinitely vast subconscious netherworld of chaos and emotion to be explored via conscious cinema.

The real work for Barnet is the pursuit of oneness and healing of the self. He offered that the love affair with intellect is fundamentally disruptive and that all is received in the body as a gift.

Emotion is energy in motion. Thoughts are scary but they are not actual emotion. Rather, they are our conditioned thoughts about our sensed emotion in the body.

He listed the three main imperatives of the ego/mind:

Getting enough
Am I good enough
Figuring out what is the destiny of soul

When the Ego dissolves (see Dying to Know next) the destiny of the soul can unfold.  That is the premise of his work and actually also the mission of the festival – to open to consciousness through cinema.

Dying to Know

This was the film that drew me to the festival, and by the end I had laughed and wept with equal intensity, which is quite unusual for me.

The film sets the record straight, as the director said, of how Ram Dass and Timothy Leary were turned into caricatures by the popular media, and it provides a real context and background for their massive contributions as individuals, as friends, and as co-journeyers.

What the movie did for me, besides give me a profoundly helpful perspective on death (“die before you die” – something I have also heard from Eckhart Tolle), was help me to connect my dots and fill in many blanks. It helped me to understand the source of my seeking and also such a huge part of the tradition of wisdom, along with Alan Watts and others.

My need to figure out what else is “happening” is so much more understandable now knowing and understanding (as I did not at the time) the true force of their impact – how they paved a trail that culminated with my own inner discoveries.

As Gay Dillingham said after the movie ended, the discoveries of these two men are now in our “Zeitgeist,” but as I watched the film I had to remember my own shock and subsequent guilt when these realizations first hit my own nervous system – or awareness system as I like to call it.

Ram Dass was such a big shot in his field and described how he dropped all of his roles, letting them fall away one by one, as the chemicals dissolved his ego.

But Tim Leary was so profound and hysterically funny that I felt in him such a kindred spirit. He reminded me of Steve Jobs in many ways and his testimony in front of the Senate is both brilliant and heartbreaking, especially when one considers the cluelessness of the politicians he spoke with. Where Ram Dass let the rules and roles of society dissolve, Leary just never even considered them – a complete iconoclast, through and through.

Among the delicious ironies of the film and the only one I will mention here is that when Leary was imprisoned they gave him the Psych Profile that he himself had created as a famous psychologist.

Down to Earth

filmThis film blindsided me because I “happened to meet” the director on the first day of the conference. I was immediately intrigued. Down to Earth is brilliant in its depth and simplicity, but for an audience steeped in technology this film takes you to the edge of the earth, and the revelation that we are all One is made so apparent as to be self evident. At the fringes of the film are the darker forces that threaten our planet. Seeing this film will be a great step in our “collective” evolution

IMAG1373  Rolf Winters, co-director of Down to Earth being interviewed – his wife and co-creator Renata Heinen was with their kids.

The wisdom keepers made me think of Eckhart Tolle’s mention of “frequency holders” in A New Earth and the role of even unheralded individuals in our destiny.

Saturday night’s main event was a showing of Paulo Coelo’s Best Story, a biographical tale about the author of The Alchemist.

A sense of purpose and community was created through a Conscious Filmmakers’ Summit moderated by Kia Kiso, where we brainstormed and charted trends that would support the vision of transformative media in the future.

The theme of healing permeated the conference and there were practitioners of various kinds available throughout the conference.  One pair of sisters, Jewels and Shondra, gave readings, and Jewels, who works in Tarot, will be seen on an upcoming reality show – look for her in “Real Psychics of Sedona.”

There were other excellent movies that deserve more attention than we have space for here, all with significant social and culturally transformative and uplifting themes. Please check out the Illuminate web site for more information.


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