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BWW Reviews: ROOTED IN PEACE Meets The Aquarian Conspiracy

(The 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, running from February 21st through March 1st, is featuring 160 documentaries, features, shorts, Academy Award nominees and specialty films. The following is one of a series of reviews of selected films from the Festival.)

In 1980, Marilyn Ferguson's The Aquarian Conspiracy hit the bookshelves, speaking of paradigm shifts and the interrelatedness of all things, and was hailed as the manifesto of the counterculture. Add to her work an endless list of mind bending resources for a new age that includes the works of Fritjof Capra, Gary Zukav, Wayne Dyer, and Deepak Chopra and films like What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole. In other words, the insatiable quest for peace and enlightenment, wrapped in the kumbaya lingo of the Aquarians, has been pretty well played out from the days of Norman Thomas to John and Yoko and beyond.

In 2015, however, Greg Reitman, the founder of Blue Water Entertainment and the One Tree Foundation, added his voice to the roster with the production of Rooted in Peace, a personal odyssey to answer these crucial questions: Why are we so crazy? Does pop culture teach us how to be violent? Is there a peace game? How do we transcend the collective trauma that we derive from our constant exposure to violence? Why is peace so difficult to achieve?

Mr. Reitman's quandary was triggered by a life-changing experience while he was in Israel and the first Gulf War (1990) occurred. Moved to tears and troubled by the insanity and casualties of war, he commenced on an exploration, armed with a bonsai tree, that took him to Hiroshima, interviews with the disciples of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and transcendental meditation, sing-alongs with Pete Seeger, Al Gore's inconvenient truths, and participation in the 2010 World March for Peace.

Rooted in Peace chronicles his journey and portrays the imagery of man's violent ways and technologies. (Dane Lawing's photography brilliantly captures the context and contrasts of Reitman's odyssey.) Along the way, he discovers the interconnectedness of his concerns with the challenges of nuclear proliferation, environmental degradation and the depletion of the rain forests, the food crisis. It's absolutely overwhelming how everything seems to be tied to together in the web of life! His angst almost destroys his relationship with his future wife. He must find his center.

Armed with his bonsai tree and a growing collection of new and profound insights about the possibility of inner peace through mindfulness and the expansion of the cortex, he accepts that the current pathway of society can be changed and that collective enlightenment is possible. There is hope.

Transcending to higher levels of consciousness, however, is not the end of Reitman's road. There is the body to take care of, and so, with a visit to the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, he learns about the imperative of putting the body, the biological terrain, in order (and also that he is pre-diabetic).

In the end, the first step in the path to peace and to human transformation starts with the self and a holistic assault on all one's bad mental and physical habits. Reitman concludes that peace may be as simple as putting a tree in the ground and decides to change the world by planting trees. Good for Reitman that he walks his talk!

He groks the interdependence of all things, and in a moment of monumental inspiration, gets that "the tree is an extended part of the body" and that "we all must create the conditions conducive to life."

Reitman's choice is to live his learnings and to fulfill Gandhi's admonition that "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." His authenticity is what makes the film worth seeing!

Photo credit to Rooted in Peace



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