'AWAKE,' WHEN MY SORROW DIES Take Top Honors at Illuminate Film Festival

'AWAKE,' WHEN MY SORROW DIES Take Top Honors at Illuminate Film Festival

Awake: The Life of Yogananda earned the Audience Award for Best Film and When My Sorrow Died: The Legend of Armen Ra and the Theramin received the Director's Choice Award at the inaugural ILLUMINATE Film Festival, the nation's first mind-body-spirit film festival.

During the Festival's four-day run, attendance reached 3,000. Filmgoers attended 23 screenings that included 7 sell-outs. The event attracted 35 filmmakers and industry guests and featured 10 workshop presenters, 10 local outreach partner organizations, 12 local musicians and nearly 100 volunteers. Over 500,000 hits and more than 8,500 unique Visitors viewed the ILLUMINATE website during the month of May.

Other award winners were: No Strangers, Audience Award for Best Short Film, and May I Be Frank, ILLUMINATE Impact Award.

"The overwhelmingly positive response from the filmmakers, filmgoers, sponsors and community to our inaugural festival was exhilarating and humbling," said ILLUMINATE Founder and Executive Director Danette Wolpert. "I was barraged by audience members sharing profound breakthroughs, aha moments, acknowledgements of kindness and commitments to action for the enlightenment of themselves and their communities. We couldn't be happier with the outcome."

Sophie Jane Mortimer, producer of Song of the New Earth, said that "if the first year was this good, I can't wait to see what next year will bring."

Armen Ra, whose film premiered in Sedona was also overwhelmed. "A spectacular screening and performance at ILLUMINATE Film Festival," he wrote. "This was the first festival that accepted our film. Sold out with waiting list, honey! Standing ovation, the most loving beautiful people ... I am humbled over and over again. To the festival team and every single person who came, thank you. Sedona is sacred."

When My Sorrow Died captured the story of Persian-American Theremin virtuoso Ra and his journey through his earliest years in Iran, to his wild time modeling and tearing up the New York drag scene to his recovery from alcohol addiction and emergence as a world-renowned master of the Theremin, the only instrument played without actually touching it. He performed after the film.

Tony Carito of Sedona commented, "Illuminate. This word will now be connected in my mind to the ILLUMINATE Film Festival, a global conscious cinema movement. My personal experience involved only four of the 23 films, but I was profoundly moved by each and every one of them."

In its Southwest Premiere, AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda told the unconventional biography of the legendary East Indian mystic who introduced yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s.

AWAKE director Lisa Leeman wrote in an email that she was "so honored to have been part of the first ILLUMINATE Film Festival. Lasting transformation happened in Sedona. It's surreal to be back in LA. "

No Strangers celebrated the wonder of world culture and the plight of indigenous people through the images and commentary of acclaimed photographers.

May I Be Frank is the true story of Frank Ferrante's personal transformation. The 54-year-old, 290-pound Sicilian American from Brooklyn with Hepatitis C handed his life over to the 20-something owners of a raw-vegan San Francisco restaurant who committed him to changing his ways over 42 days.

ILLUMINATE also featured the world premieres of

• Death Makes Life Possible, a beautiful and ground-breaking journey produced by Deepak Chopra, MD, and Marilyn Schultz, PhD through one of life's most taboo topics: death.

• On Meditation, a fascinating portrait series offering a rare glimpse into how meditation transformed the personal and professional lives of notable figures including director David Lynch, actor Giancarlo Esposito (Do the Right Thing, The Usual Suspects) and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and late author Peter Mathieson.

• Dance of Liberation, the visually stunning, inspirational journey of Parashakti, a lost and broken young woman transformed into a powerful soul healer, who bravely tries to mend her deepest childhood wound along the way.

For more information, visit www.ILLUMINATEFilmFestival.com.