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Review of Awareness Film Festival 2013

This past weekend the Awareness Film Festival was held in Santa Monica, CA at various screening rooms. Their mission is to “bring awareness to some of our world’s pressing issues: Ecological, Political, Health/Well Being and the Spirit.” Most of the films they screened were socially conscious shorts and feature documentaries.

I was grateful to receive a press pass for myself and a colleague who attended THIS DEWDROP WORLD, Shorts Block 1 & 2, PAW PROJECT, G-DOG and CONSPIRACY RISING. Some of the films I wished I saw were FEMME, WINGS OF LIFE, and CONSCIOUS LOVE. Some of the films I had seen before that they also screened were PAD YATRA: A GREEN ODYSSEY, SACRED JOURNEY OF THE HEART, and AWAKENING WORLD.

What I love about this film festival is that its main purpose is to open our eyes and provide information about many societal issues while also being a fundraiser for a charity. The non-profit it benefits, Heal One World, provides preventive health care (especially through alternative/natural methods) to those in need. The Founder of both, Skye Kelly, is a yoga instructor/natural health practitioner/activist and inspiring leader passionate about healing and making a difference. I admire her work and what she has accomplished with this festival and its growth.

I had a big realization during this festival after screening some of the shorts that made me feel anxious, depressed and frustrated with our world. I made an important decision that I only want to distribute and promote films that provide solutions and leave the viewers’ feeling inspired. While some may say this is a “Pollyanna approach”, I feel that sometimes we don’t act or create change when we see problems as so big and complex that we feel that one person can’t make an impact. The weekend before, the Topanga Film Festival also showcased some darker/intense films and even had a block on tragedy. Their theme for the year was “change” but tragedy is not the change I wish to see in the world! Sometimes I wonder if our default programming for fear or conflict overrides our soul’s yearning for the light. The only way our media will change is if we start to demand more love-based films that demonstrate that transformation is possible.

On closing night, the Awareness FF delivered two of their best films that showcase the power of love. The short documentary, “See Me”, is a beautiful, powerful, and positive tale of transformation in South Africa. Filmmakers provided cameras to orphans and allowed them to tell their story which provided joy and priceless value to the children and spread awareness on the effects of HIV/AIDS.

G-DOG, the feature documentary shown, follows the lives of Father Greg Boyle (known as G-Dog), Founder ofHomeboy Industries, and those he has touched. I had known about Homeboy for a while but I never knew the story behind this non-profit. I was literally blown away, crying through most of the film because second chance stories touch my heart so deeply. This film is a must-see. It raises consciousness about gangs and provides multiple solutions for rehabilitation. G-Dog is a real-life Saint who is changing lives, ending violence, creating community and kinship, and constantly telling a story of hope, transformation, and inspiration. He is now one of the top people on the Planet I wish to learn from and emulate and this film moved me to donate to the cause, to plan a visit to their café and officespurchase his book, and to work towards distributing and promoting the film. I want people to see with the eyes of their heart as G-Dog does. He knows the truth that at our core we are all the same and worthy of unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and a second chance.

I fully support film festivals like this that are doing their best to screen films that raise consciousness and bring together creative idealists that are hungry to change our world for the better. Kudos to the Awareness Film Festival and please make sure this is on your calendar for next year!

Entertain, Enlighten, Inspire,
Kate Neligan – Founder/CEO of Synergy TV
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