The Hobbit: an unexpected journey, a long-awaited prequel

J.R.R. Tolkien fans across the globe are brushing up on their elvish and dwarven as they prepare for a return to Middle Earth.  Nearly 11 years after the release of the final “Lord of the Rings” film, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens worldwide on Dec. 14.

“The Hobbit,” based on the brighter, lighter-hearted prequel from Tolkien was published in 1937, several years before “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Gandalf (Ian McKellan), a mysterious wizard, pays a visit to the unassuming Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), with a band of roughneck dwarves. Bilbo soon finds himself caught up in a most dangersome expedition led by the dwarven hero Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). The band quests for the Lonely Mountain to recover an ancient dwarven treasure stolen by the evil dragon Smaug. On their journey, the companions traverse ancient elven cities, skirmish with goblins and trolls, and Bilbo finds a mysterious ring that will shape the future of Middle Earth.

Middle Earth is rife with magic, as fans of the series will already know. In creating the rich fantasy universe for the movie, Peter Jackson, the New Zealand native who directed the first three films, again brought his cinematic wizardry to the table by directing “An Unexpected Journey.”

While The Hobbit is a single novel, it will be released in three separate installments, all directed by Jackson. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is set for release next year, and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” is slated for 2014.

The spectacular visuals that won all three of the Rings films innumerable awards are back, this time with an extra spoonful of sugar to match the original book’s lighthearted tone. The dwarves’ noses are just a little bit rounder this time and even Gollum is looking more fresh-faced than usual. Most notably, the entire film was shot at 48-frames-per-second, double the industry standard of 24-frames-per-second. Viewers who saw advance screenings of “The Hobbit” compared the experience to seeing high-definition television for the first time. The Hobbit will also be released in 3D.

Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, and Hugo Weaving all returned to New Zealand to reprise their roles from “Rings” in the first installment of the Hobbit trilogy. They were among the celebrities to walk the 1,600-foot-long red carpet, as fans crowded the entrance to the Embassy Theatre in New Zealand’s capital.

According to the New York Daily News, 100,000 people were in attendance at the premiere (more than half the population of Wellington), sporting homemade elf ears, and furry Hobbit feet.

However, not everyone at the theatre was present to support the picture. Over the past few weeks, Warner Bros. faced allegations from the Humane Society that as many as 27 animals used in the film, including two horses, died preventable deaths due to unsafe living conditions, according to animal wranglers who contacted the Associated Press several weeks ago.

Animal rights activists chanted and held signs with slogans such as “Middle Earth is no place for animals.” Many of the safety hazards present at the farm that housed these animals have since been repaired or improved by Warner Bros.

Despite the controversy, “An Unexpected Journey” is scheduled for U.S. release Dec. 14.

Lucas Thayer and Luke Eldredge Staff Writers

Contact Lucas Thayer at lthayer12@my.whitworth.edu, and contact Luke Eldredge at leldredge16@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Homegrown web series returns

Fan-supported Kickstarter campaign funds Spokane company’s sci-fi comedy

Armed with just a green screen and some spray-painted nerf guns, a group of five Eastern Washington University graduates embarked on a journey, a journey to create a sci-fi comedy web series on a budget of $200.

Now, after winning multiple awards and national acclaim for their first season, the intrepid crew of the S. S. StarSpanner is ready to embark on its second season of the web series, Transolar Galactica.

Transolar Galactica (TSG) follows the exploits of the arrogant Captain Elliot “Remmington Trigger” Trig, and his doggedly faithful crew as they bungle their way across the universe with complete disregard for the laws — laws of physics, that is. Transolar Galactica blends sci-fi standards such as Star Trek, Firefly, and of course, Battlestar Galactica. The series parodies the sometimes self-indulgent and sometimes incoherent science fiction genre.

TSG boasts national acclaim, including screenings at San Diego Comic-Con, Emerald City Comic-Con, and the Penny Arcade Expo. TSG was an official selection at the New Media Film Festival in the online competition, and took home four awards at the 2012 Los Angeles Web Series Festival for special effects, ensemble cast, cinematography and best series.

While the series has achieved great success, the team of filmmakers started out as fellow classmates working on overlapping film projects at Eastern Washington University’s film program.

“We just started making movies together,” said Clancy Bundy, one of the show’s co-creators. “We had a good time and we made some fun projects. After college, we all decided to stick around, look for jobs locally. So to stay sharp as filmmakers and stay connected as friends, we decided to do this skit show.”

Kinetic Energy, the production company the group formed to film their sketches, had doubts about getting their project off the ground. After all, Bundy said, there were thousands of other people on the internet with the same aspirations towards internet fame.

"Everyone wants to make a Mitchell and Webb skit show. Everybody wants to make the next ‘SNL’-web-thing, ‘Whitest Kids U Know’-type-thing,” Bundy said.

Despite a lack of funding, Kinetic Energy was able to produce the first episode of Transolar Galactica. The backdrop for the first episode was a collapsible green screen, and improvised desk lamps were used for lighting.

“We made the first one, and we loved it and our friends enjoyed it, and so we decided to make a second one,” Bundy said.

The second episode received positive comments on YouTube. By the third one, internet trolls were criticising the series. When the trolls struck, the Kinetic Energy team knew they had found something successful, Bundy said. If strangers hated it, it must have been good.

By the fifth episode, Bundy said, the crew was beginning to seriously consider the possibility of a second season. By that time, a studio space had been found for the film’s production, and the crew had found various freelance filmmaking jobs in the Spokane area to help pay the bills.

At around the same time, the TSG crew was approached by Zombie Orpheus Entertainment (ZOE), a film production company operating under a simple credo: “Fan Supported, Creator Distributed.” After ZOE asked TSG for a full season’s release schedule, TSG promised another five episodes. After TSG was hosted on ZOE’s YouTube channel, TSG reached a much wider audience.

For the second season, the crew decided better production quality was a must-have, including better special effects, improved equipment, and a dedicated team of set designers and camera crew. For this new season, $30,000 was set as the minimum goal.

Following the Zombie Orpheus Creed, TSG asked the fans for support in the form of a Kickstarter campaign. It was an all or nothing gamble — if they were even $1 short of the $30,000 goal, they wouldn’t receive a single cent.

It was a photo finish. After 30 days of fundraising, the final tally was in on Oct. 28. A total of $30,885 in cash proved just how much the fans supported the homebrewed space series.

Over the next three months, the Transolar Galactica team will be filming the next season of the show and editing it in post-production. Now with enough fan love, and enough rocket fuel, TSG will return this April.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Contact Lucas Thayer at lthayer12@my.whitworth.edu.

Canadian film festival screens outdoor sports films downtown

Students are the up and coming generation of outdoor enthusiasts, said Miles Swancy, a a customer service representative at Mountain Gear. Swancy said he urges outdoor buffs of all ages to attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival, but he especially encourages college students. The beauty and uniqueness of the outdoors will eventually be sustained by the efforts that we, as a community, put into saving and preserving the natural world we know today, he said.

Mountain Gear, an outdoor retail store on 2002 N. Division St., brings the film festival to Spokane every year. This year the three day event will be at the Bing Crosby Theater downtown Nov. 16-18.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is a film and book competition at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. The center is an arts organization whose mission is to inspire creativity by providing arts programs and a place for creative thinkers to gather, according to the Banff Centre’s website.

Each year, the film festival shows first in Canada then embarks on a world tour. This year one of the first stops is in Spokane. The festival visits 32 countries starting from the United States and continuing to South Africa, China, Japan, New Zealand and Antarctica, according to Mountain Gear’s website.

“It’s basically a group of small filmmakers who compete against one another and show their skills and experiences with the festival,” Swancy said. “Usually there are giveaways, vendors and a whole lot of food.”

Rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, mountain biking and surfing were some of the outdoor sports featured at last year’s festival, said Mark Beattie, assistant manager at Mountain Gear. Cultural pieces were also featured, such as films about Nepal and Tibet.

The films being screened in Spokane this year have not been confirmed yet, but may include some of 2012’s festival winners. Two Australian adventurers make the icy trek through Antarctica to the South Pole and back in the film that won the festival’s grand prize. Other awarded films follow Afghan first-time skiers who train to compete in Afghanistan’s first ever downhill ski competition, and Himalayan nomads who are faced with a decision to sell their herds and leave their land or abandon their wandering lifestyle.

“You can find anything from skiing, to climbing, to snowboarding,” Swancy said. “It’s a tremendous experience.”

While the majority of the films shown are of others pursuing their dreams and enjoying the wilderness, part of the message that Banff hopes to get out is preservation of the earth’s natural landscapes and wildlife. The Banff Centre teamed up with key organizations such as National Geographic, North Face and Parcs Canada who share Banff’s mission of celebrating wild places and encouraging exploration.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival will be at the Bing Crosby Theater at 901 W. Sprague Ave. Nov. 16-18. Entrance is $15 for one day and $40 for all three days.

Juliette Torres Staff Writer

Contact Juliette Torress at juliettetorres16@my.whitworth.edu.

Movie review: ‘Cloud Atlas’ soars

A young composer struggles to complete his magnum opus before his death. A hard-nosed journalist seeks to uncover the truth behind her source’s mysterious death. A synthetic clone yearns to see a life above ground.

These stories are connected. These stories are different. These stories are the same.

Cloud Atlas” is an absolutely stunning work of cinematic triumph, spanning several centuries and incorporating many diverse genres. Directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix Trilogy,” “V for Vendetta”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), “Cloud Atlas” is an adaptation of the 2004 science fiction novel of the same name written by British author David Mitchell.

“Cloud Atlas” is a treatise on the nature of the human soul told through six overlapping narratives. At first, the quick cuts between the six different narratives seem jarring and out of place. However, true comprehension of the film comes from understanding that the story is linear, not chronological. Events happen in a pseudo-logical progression, although not necessarily during the same time period.

The narrative leaps from 17th century period piece, to post-apocalyptic drama, and then back to contemporary comedy with little effort. While the movie itself is just under three hours long, there is an overall feeling of oneness that emerges from the six divergent stories. The conclusion of the movie remains extremely satisfying without sacrificing depth.

The film is visually liberating, as one might expect from the Wachowski brothers. I’m not just talking about the dystopian splendor of a futuristic Korea. Makeup and wardrobe for “Cloud Atlas” deserves some serious kudos, as many of the actors in the film portray different roles in different storylines, often going unrecognized until the very end.

Without giving too much away, one of the best moments in the movie was seeing Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix,” “V for Vendetta”) cross the gender line in his role as a Nurse Ratched-esque character.

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry both deliver formidable performances across the spectrum, and Jim Sturgess (“Across the Universe,” “21”) delivers a surprisingly compelling performance as a talented young composer. Although, to say one character excelled above any other would be a lie. With an ensemble of this caliber, it’s no surprise they cast every actor multiple times.

“Cloud Atlas” may get confusing, and while three hours might seem like a long running time for a movie with no hobbits in it, “Cloud Atlas” is definitely worth the price of admission.

“Cloud Atlas” Timeline

1859: A notary falls ill returning to England, carrying a very important contract.

1930: A penniless, deviant musician corresponds with his ex-lover while working for an aged composer.

1975: A reporter for a “soft” media magazine catches the scent of a scandal, but before she can learn anything, her source is murdered.

2012: A British publisher finds unexpected success, and unwanted attention, after one of his writers crashes a fancy party.

2144: A genetically-engineered clone recounts the story of her education in what may be her last interview.

104 years “after the fall”: A tribal man living on the Big Island of Hawaii grows suspicious of the technically advanced race who visit his village.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Contact Lucas Thayer at lthayer12@my.whitworth.edu

Ugly Duckling has something to ‘honk’ about

Whitworth’s production tells story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ at downtown venue

While you may have all heard the story “The Ugly Duckling” before, it’s safe to say you’ve probably never seen the tale come to life on the stage.

Now you (and your parents) can.

Whitworth will be staging “Honk! A Musical Tale of The Ugly Duckling,” starting Parent’s Weekend, at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Most of the play follows the original storyline of the book “The Ugly Duckling,” with a few modern-day twists. “Honk!” was written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who have produced other famous shows such as “Mary Poppins” and “Peter Pan”.

Senior Kirsten Mullen, a vocal performance major, plays Ida, the protective and loving mother of the Ugly Duckling, played by senior Sean Stoudt.

“She is the only person who is supporting Ugly from the very beginning,” Mullen said. “She tries to make everyone see he isn’t different.”

Assistant professor of theatre Brooke Kiener is directing the play.

“I love everything about this musical. I love the music, I love the humor, I love the theatricality of it,” Kiener said. “I also love the message. The main character is strong in the face of adversity, and he discovers he is proud of being different from the rest of the flock.”

Kiener said instead of the play being staged in Cowles Auditorium like usual, the play was moved to the Bing Crosby Theater last spring. Academic Affairs came to her and said the U.S. senate debate conflicted with the musical’s show date, and thought they might want to look into having it at another venue.

“We thought it was worth looking into,” she said. “The Bing sort of immediately rose to the top of the list in places we could work in. [Cowles] is not actually a theater, and the opportunity to work in an actual theater is exciting.”

Kiener said more than 50 students have put time and effort into helping put this play together.

“There are the 12 members of the cast. We also have four musicians,” Kiener said. “And we have 19 sort of crew members who are working on the set and helping to make costumes.”

Many of the actors play multiple roles in the musical. Senior Preston Loomer, a theatre major, plays Drake, the father of Ugly, and Greylag, a goose captain who helps Ugly while he is lost.

“[One difficulty] was really solidifying the characters as separate from each other,” he said.

The music in the play was directed by associate professor of music Ben Brody. Aaron Dyszelski, an assistant professor of theatre, designed the sets and costumes for “Honk!”

John Hofland, former chair of the theatre department at Gonzaga University, is the lighting director.

There will be no fur or feathers on the costumes, Kiener said.

“Even though the characters are animals, we have costumed them in human clothing,” she said. “But the textures, colors and patterns indicate the various kinds of birds and other animals in the show. It’s a much more creative way of approaching costuming for this show.”

Songs in the production include “The Joy of Motherhood,” “Look at Him,” “Different,” “Every Tear a Mother Cries,” and “Warts and All”.

Mullen said she really enjoys playing Ida, as she gets to sing some great songs in the play.

“At the beginning of the show, I sing like five songs in a row,” she said. “My favorite song is the finale of act one. Sean and I are both singing about how we miss each other, but we can’t see each other.”

Many of the actors are studying theatre, music, or something similar, and their seriousness about their studies shows through in the professionality of their performances. Loomer said he chose to study theater because he’s always been drawn to it, even as a child.

“My parents were both involved in [theatre],” he said. “It’s just somewhere I feel comfortable, more than in other places.”

Mullen said she encourages everyone to come see the play.

“I know it’s weird [with the play] being downtown,” she said. “But we worked so hard on it, it would be a shame to have no one come to see it.”

“Honk!” will be showing on Oct. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 20 and 21 at 2 p.m. The musical will be at the Bing Crosby Theater, located at 901 W. Sprague Ave. General admission is $9, and admission for students and senior citizens is $7.

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Note: A correction has been made in this story in regards to the showing dates from the print story. The Oct. 18 showing has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict.

Professor Film Series shows selection of movies

Local professors screen some of their favorites at the Magic Lantern Theatre

Between Netflix, YouTube and Video on Demand, students have no shortage of media sources these days. But how much of it is actually good? Enter The Professor Film Series, a selection of movies hand-picked by local professors for quality, obscurity and even randomness, that are set to screen at the Magic Lantern Theatre (25 W. Main Ave.) in the following months.

The films selected are an eclectic mix, including films from the black and white era and more modern fare from recent generations.

“The Tree of Life,” (2011) directed by Terrence Malick, was screened two weeks ago, chosen by David Calhoun, associate professor of Philosophy at Gonzaga University, and Gonzaga philosophy lecturer Dan Bradley as part of the Faith, Philosophy and Film Series. It is an intimate tale told in three parts, about a man’s path to reconcile with his father after the death of his brother.

 

Here are the movies that will be shown for the remainder of the series:

 

Winged Migration

Oct. 10, 7 p.m.

This 2001 documentary, directed by Jaques Perrin, follows the yearly migratory patterns of geese, ducks and eagles across all seven continents. The film features footage mainly taken alongside the birds in flight through the use of hot air balloons, motorboats, and robotic drones. The result? Breathtaking vistas and panoramic views of countries across the world. “Migration” is a followup to Perrin’s 1996 documentary “Microcosmos,” which used incredibly small cameras to capture the private lives of insects.

 

Vertigo

Oct. 24, 7 p.m.

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic psycho-thriller was chosen by Nathan Weinbender of Movies 101 and The Spokesman Review. John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) is a troubled ex-cop-turned-detective with a crippling fear of heights. After taking a job to follow a friend’s “possessed” wife (the young Kim Novak), things become complicated when she commits suicide, only to reappear in Scottie’s life weeks later. A brief synopsis cannot do Hitchcock’s masterpiece justice, although after seeing the film, it will be clear why “Vertigo” has been rated as “The Best Film of All Time” in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll.

 

Sullivan’s Travels

Nov. 14th, 7 p.m.

This 1941 film follows the story of a film director who wants to make a serious documentary about the plight of human suffering, and hits the road as a hobo. His journey through the commercial land of Hollywood leads him through the truly surreal world of movies. Whitworth professor of English Leonard Oakland chose the film and said the selection was made in honor of the 100th anniversary of Paramount Pictures. “Sullivan’s Travels” is the second film by Preston Sturges, one of the great satirists of his generation.

 

The Royal Tenenbaums

Nov. 28, 7 p.m.

Gonzaga assistant professor of English Jessica Maucione is hosting this 2001 film that tells the story of a dysfunctional family filled with child prodigies. The family, long estranged, reunites upon learning of their father’s terminal illness and help each other move beyond their hang-ups and finally become adults. “Tenenbaums” is directed by Wes Anderson (“Rushmore,” “Moonrise Kingdom”), who has become known for his quirky stories and themes of adolescence.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Contact Lucas Thayer atlthayer12@my.whitworth.edu

Theater review: Play about musical flop ‘produces’ laughs

Actors sing about Hitler and dance around the stage in a comedic fashion, to tunes such as “Springtime for Hitler,” “I Wanna Be A Producer” and “Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop.” What play might this be, you ask? The Spokane Civic Theatre’s latest production of “The Producers”.

“The Producers,” based on Mel Brooks’ 1968 film of the same name, was adapted as a musical by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, his longtime friend and writing collaborator. The comedic story tells of how a failing producer and a nervous accountant team up to produce the worst musical possible and try to win over investors for their Broadway flop. With engaging characters and ridiculous humor in every scene, this musical is sure to entertain.

The Spokane Civic Theatre cast does a tremendous job with the play, completely engaging the audience in the story with witty jokes, fantastic musical talent and perfect dance numbers throughout. However, it is a play meant for more mature audiences, with sexual humor prevalent from the start.

Lance Babbitt, who plays Roger DeBris in the play, said rehearsing and preparing for the play was a fairly long process, but that it has been well worth the effort.

“Comedic [musicals] take a little longer than other types. It was a very intense process,” he said. “It took about nine weeks, when it normally takes about six weeks. We had a lot of fun; we’re a very close cast.”

The cast members are from a variety of backgrounds and are different ages. Some have been in the profession for many years and others are acting for the first time.

Babbitt said his favorite part of working with the cast is being able to see all the fun things each person does. He said some actors will go from being a pigeon puppet, to a stormtrooper, to an old lady just within a few scenes.

“Backstage is madness. We have a million costumes and it’s really crazy, but we have a lot of fun,” he said. “And when it finally clicks it’s just an amazingly fun experience.”

Mark Pleasant, who plays Leo, the neurotic accountant-turned-producer, said he loves many things about portraying Leo, including the dynamics of working alongside Jerry Sciarrio, who plays Max, the other producer.

“I love the relationship that Jerry and I share onstage,” he said. “I love my leading lady, and I love the physical comedy of [the play].”

“The Producers” shows at the Spokane Civic Theatre Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Oct. 21. Tickets for students are $22. Student rush tickets may be available for $11 the night of the play if there are seats still available.

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

Film shows what it means to follow a ‘calling’

What would cause three people — three comfortable, content, sane people — to leave everything they know? To move from the safety of their homes and into poverty stricken squalor?

“The Calling” is a film that tells the story of three individuals of the Catholic Church who made a leap of faith, uprooting from their Tampa, Florida parish to start a mission on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Against the backdrop of poverty and suffering, the film captures their pilgrimage into a foreign landscape, and their personal journey to find meaning in God’s purpose.

David Ranghelli, the film’s director, worked in the film industry for many years, producing and filming projects for others. He said his fascination with the Catholic faith inspired him to producefa his own documentary.

Acting as camera-man, sound technician, and director, Ranghelli worked as a one-man film crew, following the mission from Florida to Peru. After facing countless rejection letters trying to get production for his film off the ground, Ranghelli’s resolve was often tested. His work on the film spanned seven years, traveling back and forth from Peru to America. When he couldn’t find the initial funding for the project, Ranghelli used his own savings to get the project going.

“Films about religion aren’t something that’s very high on the list of a lot of the mainline documentary producers or philanthropers,” Ranghelli said. “There were nights I would lay awake in my bed at 3 a.m., just wondering what I had gotten myself into.”

As Ranghelli said, film production is a competitive field with limited resources, and many different people fighting for the same grants. In the end, Ranghelli found a production studio to finance his work. While Ranghelli had faith in the success of his film, even he could not have fathomed how successful it would be.

Since its first screening in 2009, the film has been featured at 16 film festivals, earning four awards, and has been screened at 20 different academic institutions — Whitworth University as the latest addition to the list. While pleased with the film’s success, Ranghelli attributes his greatest success to the number of people the “The Calling” has touched.

“The truly rewarding thing for me has been that such a broad audience has come to this piece, and has found value in it on some level,” Ranghelli said.

Whitworth’s presentation of “The Calling” is part of the sixth annual Faith, Film and Philosophy series, a joint effort between the Weyerhauser Center for Faith and Learning, and the Gonzaga University Faith & Reason Institute. “The Tree of Life,” the first presentation of the four-part series, was shown last Wednesday at the Magic Lantern Theatre, and was followed by a brief discussion.

The two films will be the subject of two guest lectures to be held at Gonzaga University. Guest lecturers include Dr. Peter Candler, associate professor of theology at Baylor University, and Dr. John McAteer, assistant professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University.

“The Calling” will be presented in the Robinson Theater of Weyerhauser Hall, at 8 p.m., and will be followed by a question and answer session with David Ranghelli.


Faith, Film and Philosophy Events:

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m. Film: The Calling Weyerhaeuser Hall, Robinson Theater Whitworth University

Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m. Lecture by Dr. Peter Candler Title: "American Pastoral: Natural Grace in the World of Terrence Malick" Wolff Auditorium, Room 114 Jepson School of Business, Gonzaga University

Friday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. Lecture by Dr. John McAteer Title: “The Problem of the Father's Love in The Tree of Life and the Book of Job” Wolff Auditorium, Room 114 Jepson School of Business, Gonzaga University

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Film review: False guru fools them all

Intrigued by the popularity of Eastern spirituality in the United States, New Jersey filmmaker Vikram Gandhi began research for a yoga documentary. Instead of completing that project, Gandhi addressed the competitive, insincere and downright corrupt practices witnessed in gurus in both America and India in his film “Kumaré.”  Backed by a degree of skepticism developed at an early age, Vikram Gandhi demonstrates the illusions of spirituality.

Donning the disguise of spiritual guru, Sri Kumaré, Gandhi establishes a life-changing alter ego in his film, “Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet.” As Kumaré, Gandhi grows out his hair and beard, adopts the loose, colorful garments of the berber tradition and mimics the voice of his grandmother while embarking on his journey in Arizona.

As anticipated, Kumaré acquires a following of devoted students, all who revere his assumedly authentic and wise teachings. Doling out impromptu blessings and gibberish chants, the guru meets some exceptionally quirky individuals and shares a part in deeply personal growth.

Still, perhaps the most touching progression is that of the narrator and guru himself. Though Gandhi remarks that he is shocked by the faith individuals have in someone no different than themselves, he too begins to believe in the rituals of his own creation. Eventually, Gandhi says that his ideal self is given life in the character, Kumaré.

“Kumaré” is a thoughtful and challenging documentary with an engaging accompaniment of humor and emotion. This film challenges the audience to question the authenticity and authority of spiritual leaders. It asks the viewer to consider beliefs and religious practices outside their own, no matter how unusual. At the insistence of Kumaré himself, one is encouraged to find the guru inside him or herself.

“Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet” will be playing at the Magic Lantern Theatre (25 West Main Avenue in downtown Spokane) at 2:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, and 8:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Laryssa Lynch Staff Writer

Contact Laryssa Lynch at laryssalynch15@my.whitworth.edu.

Movie screening to benefit peace, justice group

Having world peace is something that everyone desires. Luckily for the people of Spokane, there is an organization that works toward attaining that goal.The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is an independent group based in Spokane, with a mission to promote a just and non-violent world. PJALS was founded at Gonzaga University 37 years ago as a peace and justice center after the Vietnam War. In the early 1980s, they merged with a community-based group to become what they are today, the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

“We place an emphasis on peace and justice in the world and our local community,” said Liz Moore, director of the organization.

Shar Lichty, organizer of PJALS, coordinates the events of the organization.

“I work on statewide campaigns for marriage equality, abolishing the death penalty, and economic justice issues around the state budget,” Lichty said.

One goal of PJALS is to have a safe and just alternative to the death penalty in Washington State. There are currently seven people on death row in the state.

“It is an unjust and immoral policy that is not applied fairly or consistently across the board,” Moore said.

As a fundraiser for PJALS, there will be a screening of the movie “5 Broken Cameras” on Thursday at the Magic Lantern Theatre. It will be hosted by the Palestine and Israel Human Rights Committee.

The movie was made by Palestinians Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat and was filmed in Israel and Palestine. The film follows the life of a Palestinian villager as Israeli settlements threaten his village. There are daily arrests and night raids and one camera after another is shot at and destroyed. Each camera tells a part of his story.

Donations received from the screening will be used for the Maia Project, which works to secure clean water for children in Gaza where the water system has been destroyed.

The movie will be shown at the Magic Lantern Theatre on W. Maine Ave. on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7. Ashlynn Phillips Staff Writer