The fact that Santa Fe is launching its first-ever Metaphysical Film Festival probably comes as little surprise. “What with Santa Fe Being the vortex of everything metaphysical, this seems like the perfect place for it,” offers Lexie Shabel, assistant director of the event. The bigger surprise may simply be that it took this long for someone to come up with the idea. “There is no other metaphysical film festival in existence,” says Shabel. “There are spiritual film festivals and the like.” Asked to spell out the difference, Shabel--a filmmaker herself and founder of Tesuque’s Gringa Productions--gets philosophical: “I guess this is more esoteric and encompasses that much more because of it.”
Open-minded in the extreme, the Santa Fe Metaphysical Film Festival runs Thursday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 21, with films, panels and parties--all highly attuned to the unique spiritual atmosphere of the City Different. Events take place primarily at the historic Scottish Rite Temple on Paseo De Peralta. Festival director Carolyn Cobelo bills the event as “an opportunity for filmmakers and film-lovers to explore entertainment that takes us beyond physical reality into the metaphysical world through the rich medium of cinema.”
The festival’s opening night gets underway at 7 p.m. with The Big Question. This documentary features spiritual leaders like Deepak Chopra, Desmond Tutu and Thich Nhat Hanh speaking about the “transcendental power of forgiveness” in situations such as apartheid in South Africa, the Holocaust and the recent schoolhouse massacre in Amish country. Afterward, a welcome party at Osteria d’Assisi Italian Restaurant with music by local singer/songwriter Jono Manson will get festivalgoers into the proper groove.
Other featured films scheduled throughout the weekend include the world premiere of The God Project (Saturday 6 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.). This independently produced feature is a fictional look at a man struggling with the slowly developing power of clairvoyance, which takes him on a not-always-pleasant journey inside the subconscious minds of friends and family. The film is directed by and stars Javier Calderón, who will be in attendance, and who will participate in a “Spirit in Film” panel on Saturday at 4:45 p.m.
Mind Altering Shorts will be screened Saturday at 2:50 p.m. and Sunday at 12:15 p.m. This collection includes 16 provocative shorts that hail from all over the world. Among the multitude of topics are alien schoolgirls, Shamanism, mood swings and psychedelic robot spaceships. Many other short- to feature-length films run throughout the weekend. A quick scan through some of the spotlighted titles gives a fairly good idea of what the festival brings to the table: The Healing Image, Wisdom of a Yaqui Traveler, Secret Circles Hidden Prayers, Dancing From the Heart. Two-thirds of the filmmakers featured in the festival are expected to attend, so audience members will have the opportunity to interact with them and engage in metaphysical debate to their hearts’ content.
To help facilitate this four-day discussion of higher consciousness, increasing global awareness and nontraditional religion, the organizers of the Metaphysical Film Festival have scheduled a number of formal panel discussions. On Friday at 11 a.m., award-winning producer Bonny Dore (The Rainbow Warrior) will give a keynote presentation on her experiences as a producer for ABC, CBS and HBO and her work as the former president of Women in Film and Television International. Dore will also moderate the “Elements in Filmmaking” panel (Friday, 3:30 p.m.), which brings together entertainment lawyers, location managers and several festival filmmakers.
Guest of honor Kevin Ryerson will speak on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Ryerson has been heralded in Shirley MacLaine’s books and is described as an “author and intuitive in the tradition of Edgar Cayce.” Speaking of MacLaine, the noted actress and New Age author will be given the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday night. The awards ceremony is hosted by noted Native American actor Gary Farmer, who’s playing with his band, The Troublemakers, at a gala party in the Scottish Rite Temple Ballroom immediately following the ceremony. “The parties are going to be super-fun and inspirational,” promises Shabel. “A great place to meet like-minded folks.”
In addition to all the films, panels and parties, a sacred art market will take place in the ballroom above the theater on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re looking for sacred healing crystals, it’s a safe bet you’ll find them here. “If you don’t want to watch a movie, go upstairs, have something to eat, check out the fair,” offers Shabel. “Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a great metaphysical pickup scene.”
All-access passes for the inaugural SFMFF are available online for $325. Day passes will run you $125. Tickets for individual films and panels can be purchased for $12. To buy tickets, or to meditate over a complete schedule of events, log on to metaphysicalfilm.com.