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Spiritualist Activism? Occupy Meets "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik May 2, 2013 at 9:17AM

Ever since the success of "What the Bleep Do We Know?", the 2004 spiritual self-help documentary, a cottage industry has developed around films that cater to spiritual-minded audiences. "Occupy Love" (opening Friday), a new film from a director who goes by the name Velcrow Ripper ("Fierce Light," "ScaredSacred"), melds the form with another recent nonfiction trend, the Occupy doc. But can it change anyone's minds about the movement?
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Ever since the success of "What the Bleep Do We Know?", the 2004 spiritual self-help documentary, a cottage industry has developed around films that cater to spiritual-minded audiences. Distributor Wellspring, back in the day, had its own label devoted to the sub-genre; today, Kino Lorber releases such movies under the banner Alive Mind Cinema, devoted to films related to "personal transformation, progressive spirituality and cultural change. "Occupy Love" (opening Friday), a new film from a director who goes by the name Velcrow Ripper ("Fierce Light," "ScaredSacred"), melds the form with another recent nonfiction trend, the Occupy doc. But can it change anyone's minds about the movement?

occupy love


I have been tracking Occupy docs with some interest since the movement broke out, and this one appears like a curious addition. Judging from the trailer (see below), it looks visually interesting enough and offers a healthy antidote to the fear-mongering anti-Occupy docs that have come out, But I can't say this meeting of spirituality with activism appeals to me personally. I must admit I'm far more cynical. But maybe this holistic, granolafied, earthy approach could welcome new folks into the anti-corporate fold.

Featuring a range of environmental activists and thinkers, including poet Drew Dellinger of Planetize the Movement, Barbara Marx Hubbard, founder of Foundation for Conscious Evolution; Bill McKibben of 350.org, and Clayton Thomas-Muller, founder of Indigenous Environmental Network, the film combines social activism with ecological and spiritual concerns.

According to a Village Voice review, "The photography is beautiful, the scenes of crowds and their signs arresting, and the interviews with individual protesters—in Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, teargassed Oakland, and even melting Greenland—are often inspiring. Lefty doc mainstay Naomi Klein turns up to add some intellectual rigor to all the revolution/evolution poetry, but a kid environmentalist tells us why nature is better than the pricks at his school: It 'doesn't tell you you're a stupid idiot.' This will be a hit with protesters looking to amp themselves up with footage of a murmuration of starlings, here illustrating the power of shared consciousness. It could be bigger still with rightwingers eager to dismiss everything Occupy as hopelessly naive."


This article is related to: Occupy Wall Street