February 17, 2011

Event Report: Conscious Life Film Festival 2011.

This past weekend, I attended the Conscious Life Expo. It took place in Los Angeles, CA, at the LAX Hilton. One of my main areas of interest, this time around, was film and media, so I made a point to experience the Conscious Life Film Festival. I attended the Transformational Media Panel on Friday evening, saw a variety of films and excerpts over the weekend, and attended the awards ceremony on Sunday evening.


I made my way to the Conscious Life Expo a day earlier than I had originally planned. Having recently connected with Jared Rosen by Facebook and “mistaking” him for another Jared, I started to become familiar with his work helping authors create a free online, multi-media preview of their book(s).

When I saw that he was going to be on this panel Friday evening, I made a point of coming up from Orange County to catch the event. I’m glad that I did because it was a great panel with a variety of experts with their own unique perspectives on what makes film (and other media) transformational.

Transformational media is about creating consciousness, in general, so this is an elaboration of that same theme of creating businesses (in this case, films and other media) that promote care for the people and the planet.

Meet the Panel

The Transformational Media Panel was moderated by Audrey Philpot and, in addition to the aforementioned Jared Rosen, included Bill Gladstone, Barnet Bain, Gary Tomchuk and Greg Reitman.

Audrey Philpot is the CEO and President of Transformedia, whose focus is the “production, promotion and marketing of transformational events worldwide”.

Jared Rosen is an artist whose intention is to personalize the media revolution through his company, Dreamsculpt Media, which helps authors to “discover the soul of their project” and incorporate their “soul values” into their work.

Bill Gladstone is the co-producer of “Tapping the Source” and says that “any film that touches the heart and makes you think in a different way” and that guides you to “transform your view of yourself and the universe” can be considered a transformational film.

Barnet Bain started his journey in film as a means of gaining the perks that sometimes come with notoriety. It was the pursuit of his own growth that inspired him to create more inspirational and transformational works, including “What Dreams May Come” and “Celestine Prophecy”.

Gary Tomchuk is the creator of The Aware Guide. It was his dealings with chronic fatigue that led him down the path of healing and the question of how to combine the left-brained business world with the right-brained ways of the healers that he encountered. He discovered that media engages the most senses and helps to bridge this gap.

Greg Reitman is the creator of “Fuel” and he stated that “change in a positive way in transformational media is what excites me and gets me out of bed in the morning! Transformation causes someone to go out and make changes in their life.” As a result of watching his movie, women have been inspired to go out and trade their SUV’s in for hybrid cars.

Noteable Quotables

When asked what kind of stories NEED to be told, Barnet Bain replied “There are stories whose time has come. I would not discourage anyone from exploring a story that’s in line with their heart’s desire. There are three kinds of story:

1. What happened to me?

2. How I overcame what happened to me…

3. Less seen and becoming more frequent: stories that light me up (which) explore the question of ‘who am I and how do I relate to everyone and everything else that I can concieve and percieve of?’ There is a lot of exploration here at Conscious Life Expo.”

Gary Tomchuk said that “The whole definition of media is changing…the models of marketing and distribution strategy (are) changing. All of these rules are out the window. There’s no one path these days. Studios (are) picking up films not to make money, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Questions from the Audience

A Russian woman named Marina (left) seemed very passionate about broadening the scope of transformational media in Russia. She was advised that if she’s so invested in the idea, maybe it’s her calling to make this genre more accessible in Russia. I believe I saw her having a chat with some of the panelists afterwards. Go Marina!

When I posed the question of “how has being involved with the creation of transformational media changed your life for the better?”, Bill Gladstone chuckled and said that “Tapping the Source has made me a better person.”

I was writing so furiously that I forgot to record who said this, but I thought it was noteable: “In every film you’re evolving layers, part of yourself. Films are (like) your kids.”

There were some very interesting questions (and one very awkward statement) about alien life forms. Yes, well, some may have been in that very room, I dare say!

Mix and Mingle

I appreciated having time to meet some of the panelists and audience membors. I had a great conversation with Gayle Newhouse, who was filming the panel while i was writing and taking pictures. I also enjoyed connecting with Audrey Philpot, whom I would see numerous times during the weekend. Gary Tomchuk and I chatted about The Aware GuideFilms, films and MORE FILMS!

The films that were featured this weekend are listed below. The ones that I saw at least part of have asterisks next to them. Please follow the links available for more info. If you have a link that I’m missing, please let me know! The films are listed in the order that they appeared in the festival:

Parliament of the World’s Religions

2012: Time for Change

Sita Sings the Blues

Spiritual Liberation *

Happy: The Movie the Movement *

Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence *

The Right Friend *


Reconciliation: Mandela’s Miracle

Mujer Maiz


H-Factor…Where is Your Heart?

Bending Spoons


Tapping the Source *


Each of the films that I saw had its own flavor and character. Spiritual Liberation is really inspiring and educational and unique. It follows a day in the life of Michael Bernard Beckwith. It was the first film that I ever reviewed, and you can read that review on Elephant Journal dot com!

Happy: The Movement the Movie illustrated various cultural ideas of what causes a person to be happy. As someone who has studied anthropology to an extent, I really enjoyed hearing about how people from all around the world define happiness.

Roko Belic (left) stated that his goal was “to share these things I feel I was really fortunate to experience in my life”. When asked the question “how has making this film impacted your life?” he said “I thought that people were born one way or another. Either you’re happy or you’re not”. In the creation of Happy, he realized that a person can CAUSE happiness in his or her life.

Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence was based on the lives of Tiffany Schlain and her father, the late Leonard Schlain. He was an innovator, educator, best-selling author and surgeon. This film really spoke to me. I liked the narration, the clever images that clearly illustrated certain points and ideas and the fact that it was very dynamic and well-paced. I saw enough of it to know that I’d enjoy seeing the rest and it got my vote for the viewer’s choice award.

The Right Friend is about the choices that we have, in each moment, to listen to either our egos or our “higher self”. It’s about the internal dialogue that happens and either causes us to react to situations either from a place of fear and lack OR love and abundance. Gail Kowatch said that her inspiration was the Spiritual Cinema Circle and that she wanted to create a film about forgiveness.

Tapping the Source is a collective of interviews about spirituality. I found the pace to be quite fast and I felt fired-up watching this movie.  When I said to Gayle Newhouse, the produce of Tapping the Source, that this was the advanced course, she explained the reasoning behind the pace, stating that the intention was to make it fast enough, from clip to clip, that the viewer didn’t really have time to think. Unfortunately, THIS viewer didn’t really have time to ABSORB much either. That being said, the tagline is “Watch it Once: Be Inspired, Watch it Twice: Be Transformed”.

I do appreciate that the creators wanted to pack as much wisdom into one film as possible. Bill Gladstone said that a person can watch this film over and over and get a deeper understanding each time. In my opinion, the pace and the loop-like quality (lack of a clear introduction and ending) are what make this film really innovative. It’s sort of like a chant that’s said over and over, a mantra that occupies enough brain space that the rest of the brain can operate at a higher level. I’m looking forward to watching “Tapping the Source” again and seeing if I have a different experience the second time around.


Well, any good awards ceremony is preceded by a good party, right? I think a celebration is a great way to kick things off! A chance to mingle, see and be seen, munch on some goodies, relax with some wine, greet friends, new and old, celebrate successes…

Mikki Willis and Kuba Oms are featured in the pic on the left. To the right, you’ll see Bill Gladstone with Gayle Newhouse in action, doing what she loves…filming!

A (VERY) Personal Note

My favorite part of the reception was seeing Michael Bernard Beckwith. I found myself getting a little nervous in his presence since he’s been such a mentor to me. Then I realized I was being silly and that he’s all about each person shining in their own way. I gathered my courage and went in to say hi…once the path was more-or-less clear, that is!

He remembered that I wrote a “good review” of Spiritual Liberation and when I told him that the premiere was the first event I ever reported at he said “you’ll always be able to say that your journalism career started with “Spiritual Liberation”! He seemed quite tickled by that! He also said that my laugh was “orgasmic”…

Okay! I’ve never heard it put quite that way, but sure! Why not? He is so endearing! I love that he’s so comfortable with his “radical uniqueness” and encourages it in others. I often feel awkward with this laugh of mine that seems to burst out unexpecedly and if Michael Bernard Beckwith wants to call it “orgasmic”, that’s just fine with me! To others who may have been a bit startled by it during the screenings, know that it surprises me, too!

Awards Ceremony

Once everyone was seated, Kristen Fahrquar of EMF Films performed a dance and sang along to a film. It was very unusual and unique AND it was also done in the dark, so unfortunately I was unable to capture a good likeness of it. It was definitely a sensory experience, though!

And the award goes to…

Best in Short Series of Films- Perspectives by Steve Booth and Nick Askew

Best Short Film- The Right Friend by Gail Kowatch

Global Impact Award- Reconciliation by Michael Henry Wilson

Best Film in Festival- Happy: The Movement the Movie by Roko Belic

Audience Awards- The Right Friend by Gail Kowatch and Tapping the Source by Bill Gladstone and Gayle Newhouse.

Mikki Willis was honored with a special award as a “filmmaker who has made an outstanding contribution to the genre of transformational film”. Upon acceptance of this award, Mikki said that “9/11  had a profound POSITIVE effect (on him)”. While in New York at the time, watching the way people reached beyond themselves to help others, crawling over rubble, he saw that “at the core of humanity is something really good”. He said “these film festivals are very important because we get to celebrate the work of people who make films about what’s RIGHT in the world and what’s possible”. Well, he’s certainly an example of that and it was great to see him honored for the amazing work that he does!

The End…for Now!

Thanks for reading! I really enjoyed the Film Festival part of the Conscious Life Expo. If you know something I don’t and have info for links, pertinent details that I am missing, please contact me at [email protected]. Click here to read my final report on Conscious Life Expo!


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