WooHoo! It's a bright morning in Oakland. We broke $10k just now, thanks to two friends. My old buddy and mentor, Glen Pearcy, brought us up to the edge. Glen made the searing and courageous documentary, Fighting For Our Lives (1975) about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers movement, that was nominated for Best Doc Oscar. And then, Jordan Tamagni, my long-lost friend, brought us over the top. Jordan was one of the brightest and most alive people on President Clinton's White House staff, and now does great work for UNICEF.
Here is an excerpt from anthropologist Akos Ostor's paper on the film he made with Robert Gardner: Forest of Bliss.
Forest of Bliss (Anandavana) is an epithet of Banaras, the ancient religious center of India....Among other names is Kashi, the Luminous One, the City of Light. A lesser-know name is Mahashmashana, the Great Cremation Ground, where the devout achieve liberation from the ever-recurring cycle of rebirth. To die in Kashi is the wish of millions of Hindus, fulfilled for those who are cremated at one of the two great cremation grounds, the Manikarnika and the Harishchandra ghats (a ghat being a pass, landing ground, or steps leading to a river.)
Forest of Bliss is a film devoid of words and commentary, one that attains the level of an interpretive film of ideas.... It is not ethnographic in the strict sense of the term, yet it is true to the study of Indian civilization and Benares society and culture. It is a radiant film, in that it presents visually the genius and well as the central fact of Benares. (from East-West Film Journal, 1994)
All stills below are from Forest of Bliss -
Please click on the frame below to watch a short clip of my music video of Juke Joint Jonny's song Going to Mississippi.