Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Velcrow Ripper's Fierce Love trilogy

Photo courtesy consciouslivingradio
Velcrow Ripper (b. Gibsons, BC 1963, raised as a Baha'i) is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker who explores the intersection of the spiritual and political. (see his Wikipedia bio-filmography). 

Scared Sacred (feature doc, NFB 2006) takes viewers to many of the places in the world that have experienced great suffering in recent years including Bhopal, Hiroshima, Israel and Palestine. The film portrays Ripper's own search for meaning, and communicates stories of hope in spite of oppression. 105 m online at http://www.nfb.ca/film/scared_sacred/

Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action (2008) on spiritual activism, tells the stories of people who believe “another world is possible". Interviews with Brad Will (indy video maker shot by rightwing paramilitaries in Oaxaca 2006, the original inspiration for the film), Daryl Hannah, Buddhists Thich Nhat Hanh, Noah Levine, and Joanna Macy; Christians Michael Beckwith, civil rights organizer John Lewis, apartheid opponent Desmond Tutu; gnostic Sera Beak, tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill, environment justice organizer Van Jones, black writer Alice Walker, Public Citizen and PIRG founder Ralph Nader. Fierce Light was voted most popular Canadian film and the recipient of a special mention in the nonfiction feature category at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Complete 152m online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmo0DuZ59VY

Occupy Love (2013) is a feature doc about the Occupy movement and the failure of civilization as we know it. What the film shows, triumphantly, is that the dominant system of power is failing to provide us with health, happiness or meaning, but that love can unite as much as greed can divide. With scenes from the Egyptian Revolution, the Indignado uprising in Spain,  Occupy Wall Street in New York, Indigenous activists at the Alberta Tar Sands, the climate justice movement, and beyond. Interviews Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Roshi Joan Halifax, Drew Dellinger, Charles Eisenstein, Jeremy Rifkin, bell hooks , Anthony Robledo, Pancho Ramos, Colin Beavan, Kimia Ghomeshi, Judy Rebick, Hawaian elder Kumu Raylene Kawaiaee, Reverend Billy. Now on tour and online.

Excerpt from 2007 article on NFB CitizenShift by Velcrow Ripper about the second in his trilogy:

[Interviewing US civil rights veterans, I found] a fierce love, a love of unrelenting compassion, of unwavering nonviolence. A love that faces the bigotry and hatred of the Klu Lux Klan, of the police with their dogs trained on black dummies to attack wildly at the sight of black skin, of the average white citizens of the south who spit and taunted the protestors as they were beaten bloody for simply trying to sit a lunch counter or ride a bus or cross a bridge, and dared to see the divine spark within each and every one of those human beings. That recognizes that behind their hatred, is hurt. Behind their anger, their prejudice, is fear. Behind their violence, behind that testosterone fueled male agression of the hooded Klansman, is a sad little boy, who didn’t get enough love. The people of the movement were fueled by faith, and though I’m not a christian, and like many in this era of fundamentalism, have grown weary and wary of christian rhetoric, I have developed a profound respect for the way Christianity informed the movement. It was sheltered in the churches, the one place they could safely meet free from interference in a segregated land. Although one of the Churches we visited, the 16th St. Baptist Church, was firebombed by the KKK, resulted in the deaths of four young girls. This tragic act became one of the sparks that set off the irrepressible fire of the movement. The power of Faith, and Christ’s original teachings on justice, and peace, gave great strength to the people as they surged forward in the face of out and out assault. 

Birmingham AL 1963: AP photo from Amistad collection
Reverend Calvin Woods, one of the ‘footsoldiers’ of the movement, told me that non-violence was not just a tactic of the movement, it was a lived truth. They worked to not only stop themselves from striking back at the enemy, but learned to remove even the desire to strike back from their hearts. Rev. Mel White, who founded the movement ‘Soul Force’, talks of the love that Martin Luther King calls “Agape” and Gandhi called “Ahimsa.” It is a deep, great love that embraces all beings, sees all as a reflection of the divine, and that is profoundly non-violent. Non-violent not just in deed, but in thought. Speech itself can be violent. Ask yourself before you speak or write a violent phrase - is this love speaking? Are you a force of positivity in the world, or a force of negativity? Are you promoting biophilia, the love of life, or necrophilia, the love of death, the cyncism and hatred that is at the root of the destruction of this planet? Do you think you can create peace in the world through hatred? As Martin Luther King said, hatred does not create love, only love can do that. Darkness cannot create light, only light can do that. ?Although there are a number of severe limitations to the popular book and documentary “The Secret” (in particular the fact that is very ego based and stuff based), there is a fundamental truth to this fact: your thoughts and words draw to you the energy you put out. How do you want to live your life? 

More about Ripper and his other films: velcrowripper.com

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