Alive Mind Cinema Festival


 

Free The Mind

FREE THE MIND follows neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson as he conducts an unusual experiment. Following the practices of Buddhist monks and the advice of his friend the Dalai Lama, Dr. Davidson utilizes meditation and yoga in an attempt to physically alter the brains of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To see how early in life these practices can take effect Dr. Davidson broadens the study to include children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Focusing on participants such as Steve, an ex-interrogator, and Rich, who led battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the film documents the promising effects of Dr. Davidson's non-medicinal methods of treating pain and anxiety, leading to relaxation and happiness. FREE THE MIND asks the question: Can you rewire the brain just by taking a breath?

Breath Of The Gods

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In BREATH OF THE GODS, director Jan Schmidt-Garre goes in search of the origins of Modern Yoga, which is practiced by tens of millions of people throughout the world, and originated in the early 20th century through the teachings of Indian savant T. Krishnamacharya.


The film features major names of Yoga including Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar. Jan Schmidt-Garre investigates the transformation of Yoga from its introduction to Western culture in the 19th century, when the practice was met with skepticism, to its widespread acceptance gained through Krishnamacharya's teaching. While Yoga today is a billion-dollar industry with many devotees, this film presents the history of an ancient, sacred tradition with roots going back to the god Shiva.

For anybody curious about the roots of Modern Yoga as practiced today, this film provides an in-depth history, placing the practice of yoga in a spiritual context, the practice of which can lead to union with the cosmic Self.

When The Iron Bird Flies

'When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth.' - Guru Padmasambhava of Tibet, 8th century

In 1959, the Chinese invasion of Tibet threw open the doors to the mysterious realm of Tibetan Buddhism. Suddenly, this ancient tradition was thrust out of it's cloistered society into the mainstream of western culture. Fifty years later, Tibetan Buddhist teachers trained in practices nurtured in monastaries and caves in the Himalayas are jetting around the world, presenting the words of the Buddha to rooms full of international lay practitioners who are hungry for a true spiritual path.

When the Iron Bird Flies traces the astounding path of one of the world’s great spiritual traditions from the caves of Tibet to the mainstream of western culture and asks: In these increasingly chaotic modern times, can these age old teachings help us find genuine happiness and create a saner, more compassionate 21st century world?

"A vivid and engaging account of the movement of the Buddha Dharma... Viewers hearts will have been opened and perhaps melted by the uplifting gift of genuine spirituality as it folows from teacher to student in a pattern free of time, showing us the way to go beyond the suffering and upheavals of our days and years." - Light of Consciousness

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

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Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this two-part series explores ancient teachings on death and dying and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to Tibetan philosophy. A Way of Life documents the book’s acceptance and use in Europe and North America. Included is remarkable footage of the rites and liturgies surrounding and following the death of a Ladakhi elder as well as the views of the Dalai Lama on life and death. The Great Liberation observes an old Buddhist lama and a 13-year-old novice monk as they guide a deceased person into the afterlife. The passage of the soul is visualized with animation blended into actual location shooting.

The Edge of Dreaming

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Scottish filmmaker Amy Hardie built a career on making science documentaries, reflecting her staunchly rational mind. Then one evening she had a haunting dream of her horse dying, waking to discover that her beloved horse had passed away that same night. Shaken, she tried to pass it off as mere coincidence. But then she had another disturbing slumber, a nightmare where her deceased ex-husband predicts that she will die at age 48. After a foreboding doctor’s visit, and with her 49th birthday mere months away, she starts to wonder about the explanatory power of dreams and their impact on her own mortality. In Edge of Dreaming, Amy looks for answers everywhere, from leading biologists (Professor Irving Weissmann of Stanford) and neuroscientists (Dr. Mark Solms of the Royal London School of Medicine) to the more spiritual solutions of a shaman. With the love and support of her family, Amy chronicles her quest to untangle the knots in her unconscious and the meaning of her destabilizing dreams.


“Lyrical and poetic.”
-The Huffington Post
 
“Mesmerizing and unforgettable.”
-BBC Movie Cafe

Griefwalker

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A universal experience whether or not we can admit it, death is the sole counterpart to life. From the moment we take our first breath, death is our only guaranteed experience. This is something Stephen Jenkinson not only understands but something he loves. And he wants you to feel the same way. Griefwalker, a feature length documentary by Tim Wilson, sets its lens on Jenkinson in an unforgettable exploration of death phobia as a culture.

Stephen Jenkinson, a Harvard educated theologian, is one of Canada’s leading palliative care educators. Also considered a philosopher, woodsman, boatsman, and bard, Jenkinson travels throughout Canada providing grief counseling. He rejects the notion of acceptance, deeming it too neutral a disposition. He insists the one true answer is an embrace of death. In order to love life, we need to love death.

Filmmaker and friend Tim Wilson presents Jenkinson with an unclouded eye. Appearing onscreen together, their relationship is complex and occasionally combative. Reverent and respectful but clearly obsessed with death, Jenkinson is an enigmatic figure who can easily shift from talkative to terse. Captured with a cinematic eye, this lyrical, haunting documentary exhibits an unparalleled understanding of mortality.

Crazy Wisdom

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Buddhism permeates popular culture worldwide - we speak casually of good parking karma, Samsara is a perfume, and Nirvana is a rock band.  A recent survey by Germany's Der Spiegel revealed that Germans like the Dalai Lama more than their native-born Pope Benedict XVI; the biggest Buddhist monastery outside of Asia is in France, and Tibetan Buddhism is doubling its numbers faster than any other religion in Australia and the U.S.A.  How did this happen?

Crazy Wisdom explores this through the story of Chogyam Trungpa, the brilliant "bad boy of Buddhism," who was pivotal in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West.  Trungpa shattered our preconceived notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave.  Born in Tibet, recognized as an exceptional reincarnate lama and trained in the rigorous monastic tradition, Trungpa fled his homeland during the Chinese Communist invasion.  In Britain, realizing a cultural gap prevented his students from any deep understanding of Buddhism, he renounced his vows, eloped with a sixteen year-old, and lived as a westerner.  In the U.S., he openly drank alcohol and had intimate relations with students. Was this crazy wisdom?

With unprecedented access to Trungpa's inner circle and exclusive never-before-seen archival material, Crazy Wisdom looks at the man and the myths about him, and attempts to set the record straight.

Being In The World

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Ten years after graduating with a degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley, filmmaker Tao Ruspoli returned to visit his one-time professor, world-renowned philosopher Herbert Dreyfus. That visit led to meetings with a whole generation of philosophers whom Dreyfus had taught, which subsequently sparked the inspiration for this film. Being in the World raises the question of whether we have forgotten what it means to be truly human in today's technological age, and proceeds to answer this question by taking a journey around the world to meet a whole host of remarkable individuals, including Manuel Molina, the legendary poet and flamenco master; Leah Chase, affectionately known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine; and Hiroshi Sakaguchi, a master carpenter from Japan. By showing how these modern day masters approach life from within their chosen fields, Ruspoli's film celebrates the ability of human beings to find meaning in the world through the mastery of physical, intellectual, and creative skills.

The Sound of Insects

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Winner of the European Film Academy Documentary 2009 award “for its skillful exploration of minimalistic means to create an extraordinary visual story between life and death.”

In a remote wintry forest, a hunter discovers the mummified corpse of a 40-year-old man. A diary is found near the body, detailing the man’s everyday thoughts as he commits suicide through self-imposed starvation. Based on an incredible true story, and adapted from the novella “Until I am a Mummy“ by Shimada Masahiko, Peter Liecthi’s THE SOUND OF INSECTS is a stunning investigation into the mystery of the man’s enigmatic self-destructive motivations. Taking on his point-of-view, the film presents the notebook entries as stream-of-consciousness musings on the world around him as his body dissipates, an attempt to piece together the causes of his disillusionment.  With luminous cinematography of the vaulting trees that surround his tented tomb, and of hallucinated memories of the cities and people he left behind, THE SOUND OF INSECTS is a hypnotic and transcendent meditation on how the renunciation of life paradoxically reveals its beauty.

Sunrise/Sunset

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The daily life of the Dalai Lama is brought home with remarkable intimacy in Sunrise/Sunset. Granted total access to His Holiness for 24 hours, this is a day in the life of the Dalai Lama from when he wakes up at 3AM until his bedtime at dusk. Starting with his morning fitness routine and continuing on through the private audiences, press conferences, and blessings he imparts every day, it is a comprehensive and compassionate document of his everyday habits. As the sun begins to set, and with his duties completed, the Dalai Lama sits down with the filmmakers for a wide ranging interview covering topics related to the essence of the Universe, the gap between rich and poor, and the role an individual has to play in religion and contemporary society.

The World Within: C.G. Jung In His Own Words

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THE WORLD WITHIN C. G. Jung IN HIS OWN WORDS. 
A FASCINATING ENCOUNTER WITH ONE OF THE GREAT PIONEERS OF OUR AGE.

"... the images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them or a shrinking of ethical responsibility deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life."

In The World Within, this idea is explored as we are given a glimpse inside Jung's Red Book, the diary in which he described his dreams and fantasies. In addition, he recorded these unconscious images with colorful paintings which appear throughout the film, along with his reflections upon their possible meaning. These are the creations, as Jung comments, "which have carried me out of time into seclusion, out of the present into timelessness.

Also included in The World Within is rarely seen footage of Jung himself interviewed in Switzerland. He talks at length about his work on dreams, memory, archetypal figures and the importance of ritual and fantasy.

Le Quattro Volte

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LE QUATTRO VOLTE (The Four Times) is an ineffably beautiful meditation on the mysterious cycles of life. Set in Italy's mountainous region of Calabria, it traces the path of one goat herder's soul, as it passes from human to animal to vegetable to mineral. Director Michelangelo Frammartino was inspired by Pythagoras' belief in "four-fold transmigration" of souls, but his film is far more physical than philosophical. In gorgeous long takes, he captures the daily routines of the herder, a baby goat, an imperious tree and a humble charcoal kiln. Plus there is a scene-stealing cameo from a stubborn sheepdog, who hilariously interrupts an Easter Procession.

Working as both a spiritual investigation and a documentary of Calabrian life, LE QUATTRO VOLTE's placid surface hides a complex understanding of humanity. Everything is connected in Frammartino's sublimely mystical universe, in which he finds both humor and pathos in the hypnotic rhythms of everyday life.

"Its view of nature is among the most profound, expansive and unsettling I have ever encountered on film...Mr. Frammartino's eye for both comedy and mystery produces compositions that are so strange and memorable that they seem to reinvent the very act of perception." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Grave, beautiful, austerely comic...Pretty darn sublime." - J. Hoberman, Village Voice

 



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