Movies that are interesting and informative.

The Syrian Bride. (NPL collection)

Mona’s wedding day is the saddest day of her life. She knows that once she crosses the border between Israel and Syria to get married, she will never be allowed back to her beloved family in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Once you cross the border there is no way back and at the end of a long day, the family, the government and military officials and all those gathered on both sides of the border find themselves facing an uncertain future, trapped in No-Man’s land between Israel and Syria.

Herman’s House (NPL collection)

Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in America – 40 years and counting in a 6-by-9-foot cell. This award-winning documentary is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle finds in an unusual art project. The revelatory installation — featuring a full-scale model of Herman’s cell and detailed plans of his dream home — has brought thousands around the world face-to-face with America’s cruel and unusual punishment: long-term solitary confinement. (description from Amazon)

Arranged. by Zoe Lister-Jones (NPL Overdrive)

Rochel is an Orthodox Jew, and Nasira a Muslim of Syrian origin. They are both beautiful young teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. They also have something else in common – they are going through the process of getting “arranged marriages” through their respective religious and traditional customs. With both family pressure on the one hand, and the rejection of traditional values by the outside world on the other, Rochel and Nasira will have to rely on each other and their friendship to pull through this difficult time of their lives, striving to be strong women in charge of their own happiness, while keeping their deep religious and cultural convictions.

Discover the Gift (NPL Hoopla)

Within each of us, there are special Gifts simply awaiting discovery. The sense of joy, power, fulfillment, freedom, and unconditional love that we experience in our lives is directly related to these Gifts, yet so many of us have yet to unlock their full potential, leaving us longing for a sense of happiness and fulfillment. For sister and brother team Shajen Joy Aziz and Demian Lichtenstein, something was missing in their lives until they tapped into the power of their own unique Gifts, leading to a profound personal transformation that has enabled them to connect to the fullness of life. Their incredible personal journeys of spiritual growth have fueled their desire to share what they have learned and in Discover The Gift, they share their story and take us step-by-step through this journey of discovery which has the power to change not only individual lives, but can transform our entire world.

The Exorcist in the 21st Century (Amazon, NPL Hoopla)

Director Fredrik Horn Akselsen reveals the secret and mystical world of Catholic exorcisms in his documentary THE EXORCIST IN THE 21st CENTURY. In the film, Constanza, a Colombian woman, claims to have been possessed by demons for 15 years and sees the Spanish exorcist as her last hope for spiritual liberation.

Vision (NPL Hoopla)

Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed 12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and ecological activist. Vision is a profoundly inspirational portrait of a woman who has emerged from the shadows of history as a forward-thinking and iconoclastic pioneer of faith, change and enlightenment. (German with subtitles)

The Machine that Made us. (NPL Hoopla)

The printing press was the world’s first piece of mass-production technology. Its invention changed the world as dramatically as splitting the atom or sending men into space. It ignited a cultural revolution that shaped the modern age. It changed the way our brains work, replacing a spoken culture with a written one. It is the machine that made us who we are today. Take a trip with Stephen Fry to explore the story of the machine and the man who created it – Johann Gutenberg.

A Will for the Woods (NPL collection)

What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Musician and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial in this immersive documentary.

While battling lymphoma, Clark has discovered a burgeoning movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing typical funeral practices that stress the ecosystem. Boldly facing his mortality, Clark and his partner Jane have become passionate about green burial, compelled by both the environmental benefits and the idea that one can remain within the cycle of life, rather than being cut off from it. The spirited pair have inspired a compassionate local cemetarian, and together they aim to use green burial to save North Carolina woods from being clear-cut.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Justin Duerr is obsessed with uncovering the meaning behind the Toynbee Tiles, an urban phenomenon of cryptic plaques embedded in the asphalt of major U.S. and South American intersections.

The Forgotten Kingdom
Atang is an unemployed, aimless young man who spends his days in the slums of Johannesburg. When his father dies, Atang must give up his selfish ways and fulfill his father’s humble last wishes: to be buried in the rural, mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho.

– On Amazon Prime –

The Way (with Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez)

A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago” from France to Spain.

With One Voice

With One Voice illuminates the unity of humanity through the single message and mystical tradition that binds all faiths together.

The Monastery and Mr. Vig (True story, no actors)

Jørgen Laursen Vig owns a Danish estate, with a ramshackle castle, on the island of Fyn. He dreams of turning his castle into a Russian orthodox monastery.

The Human Scale

With the majority of the world population in urban areas, architect Jan Gehl is reimagining how to make cities more sustainable and livable. Rather than examining structures, Gehl & his team meticulously analyze spaces where people interact.

The Calling

A story of personal and spiritual fulfillment, THE CALLING follows young Joanna on her journey to self realization.

The Philosopher Kings

In search of wisdom found in unlikely places, The Philosopher Kings takes us on a journey through the halls of the most prestigious universities in America to learn from the staff members who see it all and have been through it all: the custodians.

Buying the Spirit

Beautifully-made with unbelievable access to voodoo practitioners, this film offers an unrivalled insight into this frequently misunderstood religion.

Padre Pio Sanctus

The definitive biography of the saint from Pietrelcina, Italy.

Hildegard

A drama of the life of Hildegard of Bingen – abbess, visionary, playwright, and composer.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon
A drama about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Frequencies

In a parallel world where human frequencies determine luck, love, and destiny, Zak, a young college student, must overcome science in order to love Marie, who emits a different frequency than his own. This unique and experimental drama blends science fiction and romance to create a futuristic tale where love, science, and fate collide.

Senn

Charles Dickens meets Arthur C. Clarke–A lowly factory worker is delivered from a world of misery and discovers his destiny via an ancient object on the other side of the stars. – – The acting is uninspired, but the story and the photography (setting and special effects) are more than worth your time.

Sometimes in April

(Drama) In April 1994, one of the most heinous genocides in world history began in the African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in a terrifying purge by Hutu nationalists against their Tutsi countrymen. This harrowing HBO Films drama focuses on the almost indescribable human atrocities that took place a decade ago through the story of two Hutu brothers–one in the military, one a radio personality–whose relationship and private lives were forever changed in the midst of the genocide. Written and directed by Raoul Peck, (HBO Films’ Lumumba) the movie is the first large-scale film about the 100 days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be shot in Rwanda, in the locations where the real-life events transpired.

The White Meadows

In this dreamlike film, Rahmat the boatman navigates the brackish waters of a coastal land, collecting the heartaches and tears of its inhabitants. But he remains powerless against their misguided attempts to appease the gods and make the land green again, whether by offering a bride to the sea or forcibly “treating” the eyes of a painter who sees in different colors.

Foreign Letters

In this touching tale of young friendship Ellie, a 12-year-old Israeli immigrant, and Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee, form a powerful bond that helps Ellie cope with the hardships of adjusting to her new life in the states.

The Life and Faith of C.S. Lewis

Narrated by Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley, this multi-award-winning program is the most complete portrait of the world-renowned author considered by many to be the greatest Christian writer of the 20th century.

Jellyfish

Winner of the Caméra d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, JELLYFISH is a richly imaginative portrait of three very different women emotionally adrift in Tel Aviv. While Batya, a struggling waitress, cares for a mysterious child that appeared to her out of the sea, newlywed Keren nurses a broken leg and a ruined honeymoon and Filipino migrant worker Joy tries to support her son back home.

Dimensions

Love, betrayal and time travel in 1920s England. A brilliant scientist becomes obsessed with revisiting his past – no matter what the cost. Jealousy, desires and greed surround him, clouding his judgement and sending him spiraling towards madness.

Kiss the Moon

In the midst of a rapidly changing Pakistan, three generations of eunuchs bravely unravel the ancient rituals and religious beliefs surrounding their spellbinding community. Could the encroachment of Western conceptions of homosexuality be the beginning of the end for the once-prized eunuchs?

(The majority of the descriptions are taken from the listing)

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poem – shoes and hats

hallowed and haunted
this ground
covered with ghosts
of saints and other,
past deeds
praised and profane

we walk barefoot
holding our breath
silent
lest we wake
lest we disturb.
unsettled, unwary
we wander

good that the land is marked
good that the boundaries are set
good that we know
when it is safe
to put our old shoes on
and take our hats off.

Odd how it is
that we are expected
to uncover our feet
yet cover our heads
in the presence of the divine.

What does it mean to pray to a saint?

Praying to a saint isn’t like praying to God. If you are praying to a saint, you don’t think that saint is God. It is more like you are getting a friend to help you out.

Say God is the CEO of the place you work. You are a bit intimidated by him. You need to ask a favor, but you don’t think that he will listen. You don’t think that you are high enough up on the institutional pecking order to talk to him. Maybe you can’t get an appointment. But maybe you don’t even try, because you just don’t think he’ll make time for you.

So you talk to your manager, or his secretary. You ask them to carry the message to the CEO. You ask them because you really need this favor done, or you really need to get this message across. Perhaps something isn’t going right in the organization. Perhaps you see a way that it can be done better. If only this information can get to the CEO, then some action can take place.

You don’t have the authority to make a big sweeping change, but the CEO does. So you let someone know, and they talk to the CEO. Then the change happens (or not).

Because not every time you pray to God does the change happen. Sometimes it isn’t a good thing to ask for. God has the whole picture in mind. So God knows what is best. We can put in our opinions in the opinion box, but we have to trust that what happens is what is supposed to happen.

Now, ideally, you’d go straight to God. Or, you can go to Jesus, who will go to God. But Jesus removed all barriers between us and God. We don’t need intermediaries. We don’t need priests or ministers. We don’t need saints.

Sometimes we feel like we do, in the same way that we feel like we need training wheels when we start to learn how to ride a bike. But what happens when we learn how to ride, and we still use the training wheels? We don’t get as strong as we should.

Jesus makes us worthy to stand before God. When the veil before the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn in two at Jesus’ death, all barriers between us and God were removed. By his blood we are cleansed, and by his stripes we are healed.

But this is a very human thing. People were constantly throwing themselves facedown when an agent of God (read – an angel) appears to them. They were constantly saying they aren’t worthy. There is nothing in the Bible that says they aren’t worthy, but they keep saying they are. We still do.

So we have saints, and priests, and ministers. We have intermediaries, and go-betweens.

And the message still gets through.

God wants to hear from us, no matter how. Keep praying. Keep asking. Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep praying. If you have to use saints, fine. You aren’t praying to them, so much as with them. They are like spiritual friends. But keep praying. God is listening.