The U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs has just released a video on the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office in New York and its approach to sustainable development.
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) is an international non-governmental organization with offices in New York, Geneva and Brussels, with representation to the UN and the European Union, and affiliates in over 180 countries, which together represent over 5 million members of the Baha’i Faith. Continue reading
If you’ve never heard of the lyrical medium of what’s known as ‘spoken word’, then in you’re in for a treat! Actually, even if you have heard of it, you’re still in for a treat!
Ladies and gentleman, please welcome to the stage ‘Andrea Hope’!
I first came across an example of Andrea’s spoken word from a video she posted on Youtube based on one of her tracks called ‘World Citizen’ (which I’ve included for everyone to watch further down in this post). According to the Portland Poetry Slam “Andrea journeyed to the center of the Earth and has brought back its heartbeat, carrying the delicate fire on her tongue.” Andrea is co-administrator of the Portland Poets Exchange and she dedicates her time off stage to social progress by teaching community children’s classes, biking in dresses, hosting couch surfers, teaching visual art to men in recovery, and hugging trees.
I got in touch with Andrea to find out more about her and the art of spoken word. Continue reading
The use of the arts is extremely important in the Baha’i Writings and we’re starting to see more and more Baha’is express Baha’i-inspired values and ideas through the audio-visual medium of film and video.
An example of this expression can be seen in the award-winning experimental short film titled Dimensions. Written, directed and produced by Neysan Sobhani – and inspired by the Baha’i Writings – the film aims to spark ideas and discussion around whether loss is truly loss, permanence is truly permanent, and whether the cords that are embedded in the fabric of our lives are, in fact, illimitable.
Dimensions is the first in a trilogy of related films, and it made its way through the festival circuit last year. It garnered an impressive 22 Official Selections and 2 Best Short Film awards at various major International Film Festivals, at times up against competition that included a few thousand other short films.
The reviews on the film have been effusive with the official festival review at the Canadian premiere calling it “an impressive experimental attempt at storytelling, utilising unique methods… the most unique film of this year’s line-up” and the Australian premiere review describing it as a “great emotive idea… strikingly executed… incredibly fresh and lively… one of our favourite Shorts of the year.”
The Chinese version was made available online in October 2013. He teamed up with Soulpancake in late 2013 to distribute the English version online.
I had a chance to catch up with Neysan as he was putting the finishing touches on the second short film in this trilogy to find out more about Dimensions. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now, but there’s a great show I watch on SoulPancake’s Youtube channel called Have a Little Faith, and basically the show follows Zach Anner (the show’s creator and host) in his quest to learn more about faith and different religions.
In this particular episode called ‘Baha’i How Are You Doing?’, Zach visits Justin Baldoni, a Baha’i, an actor and a director (and the creator of My Last Days, another great show on SoulPancake), to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. The episode is both accurate and heartwarming, and Zach’s humor is awesome – so check it out! Continue reading
The Baha’i World Centre has just released a series of 11 short videos commissioned by the Universal House of Justice which are collectively called To Serve Humanity.
The Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) explained that “To Serve Humanity explores, through the diverse voices of a few of the 80,000 young people who participated in the 114 gatherings, the ways in which young people can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. As the young participants articulate insights on themes covered at each conference, what it means for their generation to be dedicated to the service of humanity is brought to life. Continue reading
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States recently released a wonderful new video entitled Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering 1987–2011.
The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering started over 20 years ago when a group of 12 American men of African descent gathered in a hotel lobby in Greensboro, North Carolina. They came from different parts of the United States, and they came after being invited by Billy Roberts, an Auxiliary Board Member at the time who had noticed that there were very few black males serving on institutions in the Baha’i community of the US. Billy Roberts was also concerned about the state of the black man in North America, as there was a tremendous discourse going on at the time in the US especially, about how black men were an endangered species. Continue reading
Although the 114 World-wide Baha’i Youth Conferences drew to a close towards the end of October, the energy generated from these conferences continues to be felt throughout the Baha’i world. I was recently at a reflection gathering in Los Angeles and the energy which the youth brought to the gathering after having attended the youth conference was absolutely inspiring and contagious!
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see any of the videos from the 114 conferences yet, I highly recommend them! The Baha’i World Centre has posted all of the videos from the individual conferences online, and they’ve also produced a series of five videos called Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences based on some of the main conference themes, and they’re AWESOME! You can watch these wonderful videos by clicking on the corresponding titles below:
Furthermore, in their recent letter to the Baha’i world last week, the Universal House of Justice wrote: Continue reading
After being exiled and imprisoned from the age of eight, Abdu’l-Baha at the age of 67 set sail in 1911 and travelled to Europe and North America to visit the Baha’i communities and to share the teachings of Baha’u’llah with others.
Abdu’l-Baha spent a good portion of this trip traveling from coast to coast in North America – 239 days to be exact – sharing the message of peace and unity amongst the thousands of people He met, including President Theodore Roosevelt, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, explorer Admiral Peary, reformer W.E.B. DuBois, and poet Kahlil Gibran.
This important chapter in America’s history has now been brought to the screen by Tim and Anne Perry in a wonderful two and a half-hour documentary film titled: Luminous Journey: Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912.
Aimed at general audiences, Luminous Journey brings to light the events which took place and the people Abdu’l-Baha encountered during His visit to the US and Canada. After watching the film, one of the viewers Roland Maddela wrote: “It was like I was travelling, too, with the Master and felt the excitement on His arrival in every city and the sadness when He left. The settings and costumes captured the spirit of the 1900s. The music and the narrations are superb.”
I managed to get a hold of Anne and Tim Perry to find out more about this important and inspiring documentary: Continue reading
Holy Recollections is a new film by young Californian Baha’i Ian Huang, and some of you may recognize him from his part in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s recent film about the Faith called The Gardener.
Ian Huang’s film is a very personal documentary where he shares with the audience his reflections on the time he spent as a volunteer in the Baha’i Holy places in Israel, and his narrative is interwoven with the beautiful images of the Baha’i gardens and Holy Places.
I decided to catch up with Ian to find out more about Holy Recollections and his experiences in the Holy Land: Continue reading
Last week in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to attend the final screening of The Gardener, a film by multi award-winning Iranian film maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Makhmalbaf has a long list of movies and awards under his belt including films such as Kandahar and The Day I Became A Woman, and his latest film/documentary The Gardener, has been getting a lot of attention as well, especially as it was predominantly filmed in the Baha’i gardens in Haifa and Akko, Israel.
Using the beautiful Baha’i gardens in Israel as a backdrop, from the very beginning of the film Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam set out to learn more about the Baha’i Faith and ask why the Baha’is have been persecuted in the the birthplace of their faith, Iran since the Faith’s inception. Primarily however, the film is not so much about the Baha’i Faith, but more about the power of religion in general, and its role in the world both historically and in the present, and its transformative effect on humanity, and whether we need religion at all.
Using very simple cameras in order to convey a very grassroots and simple effect, Makhmalbaf also uses a lot of symbolism throughout his personal journey of discovery. As with all artistic endeavors, the effects of an artists work on the receiver is inevitably varied, but for me personally, the film struck a certain chord. Perhaps because the main character was a Baha’i volunteer working in the Baha’i gardens from Papua New Guinea (the country where I was raised), but also because it was mainly filmed in the gardens surrounding the Baha’i Holy Places in the Holy Land, (where I’ve had the fortune of spending a number of years and which I miss immensely), but most importantly for me was the fact that I really felt that Makhmalbaf was sincere in his quest to question the purpose of religion, and that he had a sincere concern for the plight of the Baha’is of Iran and the persecution they continue to face, even though he is not a Baha’i himself. Continue reading