Laura Dunn is the documentary filmmaker behind the film The Unforeseen, which took home the Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award and was executive produced by Robert Redford and Terrence Malick. Laura’s latest film, Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry in which she teams up Redford and Malick again, is the focus of this conversation. Put this stunningly beautiful documentary on your watch list. I’ve been an ardent follower of Wendell Berry’s work for years and this film is a glimpse into the groundedness of place, community and family that Berry poetically captures with his typewriter. Look & See is not a romanticized version of the farmer poet, but an invitation to see the hardship, character, struggle, neighborliness and rooted love that makes up the agrarian lifestyle in Henry County, Kentucky. Laura Dunn and her crew made a generous film. I say generous because Look & See freely gave me space to ask the beautiful question - how then shall I live?
Laura and I talk about Wendell and Tanya Berry’s impact on her life, Wendell’s idea of the union of life and art, marriage as a creative partnership, the unspoken farm crisis and its implications for young farmers today, where she finds hope from the Wendell and Tanya Berry and in her community and why are there so many comedians listed in the end credits of Look & See.
Look & See is not only just for those with a deep admiration for the work of Wendell Berry, but for those seeking to live an engaged life with a sense of place, belonging, and interdependence with the land and community they are rooted in. Go to lookandseefilm.com to pre-order the film, to find out which theaters are screening it and how you can host a screening of Look & See. You can learn more about Laura Dunn at lookandseefilm.com/team and get the show notes for this episode at contemplify.com
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Contemplify, the basecamp for budding contemplative whose pursuit is to kindle the examined life through conversations with creatives, scholars and practitioners. My guest today is Andrew Hinton, filmmaker and co-director of the sublime Emmy-nominated documentary film, Tashi & the Monk. If you haven’t seen Tashi & the Monk, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s moving, funny, wise and at times heart-breaking. This film follows former Buddhist monk Lobsang (who was trained under the guidance of the Dalai Lama by the by) who created a community of orphaned and neglected kids in the foothills of the Himalayas and a precocious 5-year old, Tashi, who just joined the community and is trying to find her way. I can’t say enough about this film, it brought tears to my eyes and a shot of joy to my soul. Andrew shares the serendipitous story of how he came to meet Lobsang thanks to an email from billionaire Peter Thiel’s foundation, the impact Lobsang and Tashi had on him, and how he got started in filmmaking by interviewing people in the lobby of an apartment building. Andrew Hinton makes beautiful films, and you can see this one, Tashi & the Monk, for free by going to this episode’s shownotes at contemplify.com/andrew. See this film, actually pause what you are doing now and watch it and come back around to this interview later….okay, you’re back, you should also head over to tashiandthemonk.com to find out how you can support this community that Lobsang created and the children bring to life.
Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself. Who is there that can secure a state of absolute repose? But let time go on, and the state of repose will gradually arise.'
- Lao Tzu
It’s graduation season. It is all too likely that someone in your circle is graduating from an esteemed institution, be it a university or local high school, or kindergarten. And with graduations comes graduation speakers….politicians, celebrities, authors or that one guy who did that one thing.
I was trying to imagine who I would like to see give a graduation address that would be a bit more off the beaten path, one that would not cater to a limited view of success or climbing the slick ladder of fool hardy self interest.
Bill Murray immediately jumped to mind, Alice Walker came next, then Lao Tzu...
Obviously Lao Tzu has not been taking any personal speaking gigs these last 2500 years. But I was smitten with the idea of it, so… in his stead, I will be sharing what Lao Tzu wrote on the doctrine of inaction, what I imagine was a graduate speech a few millenia ago.