Last weekend we had a remarkable event — Finding Happiness, the movie about Ananda communities, had its debut theater showing. Lines literally stretched around the block as nearly 700 people streamed into the Del Oro Theater in Grass Valley, California. Several people have written about the showing and about the weekend’s events using phrases such as: “beyond wonderful” and “the most beautiful event of my life.”
Finding Happiness is a docu-drama, an enactment of a true story using a combination of actors and the actual people involved. A reporter is sent on assignment to write about Ananda as a positive alternative to the problems of greed and loneliness in society. The audience watches, through her eyes, as she explores the community and interviews people. There was not a dry eye in the theater during the scene where Swami Kriyananda gives her a blessing before she leaves. We were extremely fortunate to have a deeply spiritual and well-known actress, Elizabeth Rohm, playing the key role. This movie deserves wide distribution, which will begin in small theaters in the fall followed by DVD sales starting in November.
It feels like one of those moments where Ananda’s history could shift completely. Film is immersive and powerful tool to influence consciousness. And yet, almost all films pull energy down through violence and sensuality. Rarely does one come along that awakens our soul. This is such a one.
Coincidentally a second movie just finished a month-long shoot at Ananda. The Answer, with an autobiographical script written by Swami Kriyananda, shows how his life, and especially his discipleship, can provide answers to our deepest questions. This is still a work in progress and a year away from the theaters.
Paramhansa Yogananda used to take his disciples to the movies. During the most dramatic scenes, he would tap a disciple on the shoulder, point up to the beam of light, and say, “It’s all a play of light and darkness.” Life itself, he explained was like a movie where we are both the audience and the actors.
Ananda has had a crash course in filmmaking this last year. But this is filmmaking with a deep goal. Master said that the highest goal is to seek God in order to share him with all. Our prayer is that these films will accomplish that purpose, reaching and changing an entirely new mindscape.