Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper’s achingly beautiful-to-look-upon “Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action” is a world journey in search for a connection between activism and spirituality. While in synopsis that sounds dangerously close to new age-y piffle, with a rotation of figures that includes Daryl Hannah, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, bell hooks and Julia “Butterfly” Hill, Ripper’s (“Scared Sacred”) film is anything but in his travels to discover notions of spirituality apart from religion. It’s thoughtful and… optimistic?! The filmmaker’s fixated on notions of social interconnection, and says his work is his “Coming out of the closet” as a spiritual person. Ripper collected 500 hours of footage, from Oaxaca to Los Angeles, from Sri Lanka to Vietnam, New Zealand and India. “I needed to understand the spiritual part of myself, and I also want to make positive change in the world,” Ripper told the Vancouver Sun of his three-year effort. “This movie helped me understand the challenges surrounding that desire because sometimes the spiritual side of yourself takes you away from the real world. Likewise, the activist side can overwhelm the spiritual. But I firmly believe that if you can integrate these two sides, you find real meaning. And that’s what we’re all looking for: Human meaning.” Ripper also says, “It is a tremendous time to be alive, a time of tremendous possibility.” Yup. 97m. 35mm. (Ray Pride)
“Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action” plays Fri-Sat, Mon-Tue, Thu at Siskel. A clip can be found here.