Mill Valley Film Festival a small, mighty affair with an audience of 40,000 afficianados is ongoing through the first part of October, 2012
Be Home Soon is a very well made film on a new topic: A granddaughter coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather. It’s her investigation…her father was an Episcopal Priest who went off to war as a Priest. He survived a death march and later died from malnutrition in a prison of war camp. His body was returned from the prison graveyard to his home Cathedral in New Mexico..
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“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is a song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in June 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival.
McKenzie’s song became an instant hit. The lyrics tell the listeners, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”. Due to the difference between the lyrics and the actual title, the title is often quoted as “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)”. “San Francisco” reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and was number one in the United Kingdom and most of Europe. The single is purported to have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The song is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California during the late 1960s.
In Central Europe, young people adopted “San Francisco” as an anthem for freedom, and it was widely played during Czechoslovakia’s 1968 Prague Spring uprising against Soviet rule.
The song has been featured in several films, including Frantic, The Rock and Forrest Gump (Wikipedia).
Many someone’s like to be introduced to a selection of films shown at The Mill Valley Film Festival for their alternative and spiritual cinema experience. This small but mighty San Francisco Bay Area work of movie viewing goes on 11 days a year, and is now in its 35th year. This year they have sold many tickets; there are currently 40,000 ticket goers who will enjoy their brand of movie.
There are more ticket holders to Mill Valley Film Festival than there are Episcopalians in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Is film-going a kind of religion, or is it an escape, or is it a way of life? Perhaps you as reader of this introduction to some of the work of spiritual kind showing at the Festival in Marin County’s small town Mill Valley read the Walker Percy book, “The Movie Goer.” That told the well written tale of a man who more than liked movies, but loved them almost as a reverential act. Of course, the book was published about four decades ago, but this Religion Writer recommends it as a reading delight even still.
In an effort to learn more about the spiritual works shown at the successful San Francisco Bay Area event that has a kind of fame, maybe even a cast of the more glamorous counter culture sensibility that has marked the City of San Francisco since young people came to it with flowers in their hair. That was when the current generation in their retirement years were more mobile and restlessly ready for a transformed world The charming and exclusive town Mill Valley but 12 miles from San Francisco has kept the faith alive.
Peter Coyote is a man who transcends this period of flowers in your hair to the contemporary successes of The Mill Valley Film Festival and its popularity. The activist and established voice- over actor who narrates a film about a granddaughter of a World War II Chaplain declined an interview for this piece, not responding in time for deadline.
The established bodies public of Mill Valley, that pretty little town that knows how to enjoy life as many young fans do because of this Festival’s support and well organized presence of activities, including active support of the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce. If you get to The Film Festival, visit the Sweetwater, a local mythic vision of music and hospitality which is listed on the Festival’s web page www.mvff.com .
Experienced Film Festival programmer, Janis Plotkin, was kind enough to talk about spiritual films to see. These are her picks noted in this report of a conversation by phone from this Religion Writer’s home office to Janis’ place of work. For a number of years, ending in 2003, Janis Plotkin was Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, a very successful and often copied event of the Jewish Community in the Bay Area.
- The experienced veteran Festival programmer of 30 years says, We do ask ourselves what is a Mill Valley film…clearly, we know people love films about their own environment. They have an attraction for spiritual issues. Anything from Buddhism to the Himalayas.
- Another choice would be representing where we live. And also very good story telling. Also films that have an alternative point of view. Elemental, or Bidder 70. Bidder 70 is political in that it is an attempt to auction off national park lands. It’s a documentary. …the protagonist is a political activist.
- Good story telling and technical achievement are at the very top of a film festival list. One of the strongest films in the festival are: Portuguese film called Tabu, Caeser Must Die. …These are all Janis’ picks
- The film I was thinking of was Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth (spiritual). The film is presenting six intimate stories of modern Modern Mayan People. …It’s considered spiritual by Mill Valley Festival goers …because it is about the spiritual life of native Central American Indians. The film has been presented in other countries, including Guatemala. It is in Spanish with Mayan and English subtitles. For me it was a way to engage with a deeper understanding to their sacred lands. It’s visually stunning. The directors are a man and a woman, Frauk Sandig and her working partner and partner in life, Eric Black. This is a perfect example of the alternative taste of the Festival.
- Be Home Soon is a very well made film on a new topic: A granddaughter coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather. It’s her investigation…her father was an Episcopal Priest who went off to war as a Priest. He survived a death march and later died from malnutrition in a prison of war camp. His body was returned from the prison graveyard to his home Cathedral in New Mexico..
The Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in New Mexico will celebrate the Chaplain December 11. The Episcopal Cathedral Press Office writes: “Director and granddaughter Melissa Howden will be addressing the Diocesan Convention on October 18 and her documentary will be screened that evening in the Crown Plaza Hotel, in Albuquerque. We also have invited Melissa’s father, Fr. Howden’s son, to attend, and expect him to be present if his health permits.”
The Rev. Frederick B. ‘Ted’ Howden
Priest–Soldier–Martyr, d. December 11, 1942
Almighty God our strength and sustenance, Thou gavest Thy servant Frederick Howden the grace and courage to put the need and hunger of others before his own life and health. Inspire us with directness of purpose in the training of body, mind, and spirit that we may better serve Thee, our country, and our fellowmen. Give us the vision to know what is right, and the courage to follow after it. Strengthen us with Thy Spirit for the duties of life that we may continue Thy faithful servants unto our life’s end, and at the last enter into Thy heavenly kingdom: through Jesus Christ our Lord who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty God our strength and sustenance, you gave your servant Frederick Howden the grace and courage to put the need and hunger of others before his own life and health. Inspire us with directness of purpose in the training of body, mind, and spirit that we may better serve you, our country, and others in your name. Give us the vision to know what is right and the courage to pursue it. Strengthen us with your Spirit for the duties of life before us, that we may continue your faithful servants to our life’s end, and at the last enter into your heavenly kingdom: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (2)
To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 18: 1-6, 18-20
1 I love you, O Lord my strength, *
O Lord my stronghold, my crag, and my haven.
2 My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, *
my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge;
you are worthy of praise.
3 I will call upon the Lord, *
and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
4 The breakers of death rolled over me, *
and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
5 The cords of hell entangled me, *
and the snares of death were set for me.
6 I called upon the Lord in my distress *
and cried out to my God for help.
7 He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling; *
my cry of anguish came to his ears.
18 He delivered me from my strong enemies
and from those who hated me; *
for they were too mighty for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster; *
but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into an open place; *
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
This article originally appeared Church of England Newspaper, London.