How can we as individuals transform society? How can film entertain, uplift, and enlighten? How can we build community around transformation? The fourth annual Esalen Inspirational Film Festival (EIFF), to be held April 10-15, 2016, explores these questions and others through inspirational stories told in film.
“Ultimately, I would like to see a property-wide destination where people working on these kind of films can meet and converge to support each other in creating uplifting and meaningful cinema,” said Corinne Bourdeau, one of the creative forces behind the festival. As president and founder of 360 Degree Communications, Corinne supports films that enrich the human spirit through social change. Her previous projects have included award-winning films such as Boyhood, The Cove and The Way.
The film festival combines Corinne’s passion for both film and Esalen. “To me it was inconceivable that Esalen, the birth place of the human potential movement, didn’t yet have a film festival,” she observed.
This year’s featured speakers include Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker (Waste Land, Crash Reel) and author and leading story consultant and author of Inside Story, Dara Marks. Additional speakers and guests will be added this Spring; visit Esalen’s website and Facebook page for updates. EIFF is attended by film enthusiasts, producers, writers, directors, changemakers, and others interested in transformation and social change in the world.
EIFF bills itself as a “TED conference meets film festival” featuring presentations, experiential learning, in-depth dialogue, and question and answer sessions surrounding the cinematic selections. Corinne and festival co-founder Mary E. Murphy spend the year carefully curating an exciting line-up of filmmakers and relevant experts that aims to delight seminarians. “The Esalen Inspirational Film Festival reinvigorates me in numerous ways,” said EIFF attendee Christine Leuthold Eisner. "The conversation built around the film inspires us all to create change and transformation in our lives. Each year is better than the last and builds upon an even stronger community.”
Past film selections have explored a wide variety of topics such as the science of happiness (Happy), alternative fuel sources (Fuel), America’s education system (Waiting for Superman), the life of Yogananda (Awake), quantum physics (What the Bleep Do We Know!?), brain injury and healing (Crash Reel), and permaculture (Inhabit). Previous film selections have also featured Esalen’s own teachers including Joseph Campbell (Finding Joe), Ram Das (Dying to Know), and Timothy Leary.
“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.”
“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.
What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?