Okay, there’s plenty of brain-cell-deteriorating fodder to be found in the world of major motion pictures.
But then there’s the controversial likes of The Passion, along with other praying-man’s films like Contact, Seven Years in Tibet, The Little Buddha and even (if you read between the battle scenes) Star Wars.
But producer Stephen Simon (Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come) isn’t about to credit big studios with a change of heart. “Hollywood has always made movies in this genre, but it’s not because of these types of themes — it’s because of the stars they can put in them,” he noted recently from his home in the Pacific Northwest.
Jodie Foster made contact with extraterrestrials, Brad Pitt (weird Nazi accent and all) tutored the young Dalai Lama and Keanu Reeves portrayed the Buddha — while still coming across like Bill. Or was it Ted?
“When we made What Dreams May Come [about pursuing one’s love into the afterlife], Polygon told us we had to get Robin Williams or they wouldn’t do the film,” Simon reveals. “These films are just star vehicles.”
The producer — who enjoyed a 25-year Hollywood career — eventually made the move to Ashland, Ore., where he could pursue his real love: Spiritual Cinema.
As the capital letters suggest, Spiritual Cinema is an organization as well as a genre. Simon’s Spiritual Cinema Circle, formed last year, boasts nearly 14,000 subscribers, each of whom receive a monthly installment of spiritual film. But even non-subscribers will have a chance to sample the fruits of the producer’s labor — the newly released Indigo — when it comes to three WNC locations.
Never mind the honor students, here come the Indigos
According to gifted-and-talented Indigos expert Wendy H. Chapman, the movie’s subjects are a special group of children recently sent to “raise the vibration of our planet.”
She asserts that Indigos “are the primary ones who will bring us the enlightenment to ascend.” Their name, in fact, is associated with the third-eye chakra, represented by a deep blue color and highly developed intuition and intelligence.
Chapman believes most Indigos are age eight or younger, and that there’s a 90-percent chance any children born in the last decade bear these remarkable traits. In fact, proponents of the Indigo theory suspect that many children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder are actually physically and emotionally sensitive Indigos.
It was author James Twyman, founder of the St. John the Apostle-inspired Beloved Community, who first envisioned a movie that would show the ways Indigos are misunderstood and mistreated — a concept not without its detractors. In an article titled “Indigo: The Color of Money,” Lorie Anderson worries that “besides parents possibly foregoing beneficial, if not lifesaving, treatments for children with mental or neurological disorders, some proponents of the Indigo movement infuse children with a false sense of human superiority …” Anderson also has harsh words for the author himself, whom she accuses of “capitaliz[ing] on his own and children’s purported paranormal abilities” via high-priced conferences and Internet courses.
But when it came time to spread the Indigo word to the biggest audience yet, Twyman — another Ashland resident — contacted Simon for some help, and the producer saw the issue as a good fit for the Spiritual Cinema Circle.
“I hope it will promote more understanding and acceptance of these kids,” Simon professes. “So many of their parents and schools don’t understand who they are and — God forbid — try to medicate them.”
The movie is the fictional story of a family pulled apart by a few bad decisions. When the grandfather (played by Conversations With God author Neale Donald Walsch — who, yep, lives in Ashland) is forced to go on the lam to save his granddaughter from would-be kidnappers, he comes face to face with the young girl’s unusual powers.
Despite the Indigo connection, this film is no documentary. Press for the movie explains it’s “about taking responsibility for the choices we make [and] … the thin line that separates success from failure and love from regret.” Redemption, grace and healing fit in there, too.
So, why isn’t this movie making it to the silver screen in Asheville?
Despite a cast of novices and a $500,000 budget funded by donations, Indigo has a sleek, professional look. And it has been picked up by AMC theaters across the country, slated to open in 100 locations on Jan. 29 and 30. Not bad for an indie flick.
But, thanks to the reach of the Spiritual Cinema Circle, Indigo will also be screened in 500 churches and other organizations in areas not served by AMC theaters. Western North Carolina has jumped on the bandwagon, scheduling showings at Mystic Journeys and the Center for Creative Living (both in Asheville), the Unity Center in Fletcher, and the Creative Thought Center in Waynesville.
“‘Indigo children’ is … an alternative concept,” says Mystic Journeys owner Aaron Hunt. “It’s probably not accepted by a mass audience.”
He adds: “The concept is very important for our time right now. Spiritual conscience is going up, and that’s being helped by the Indigo children.”
Mystic Journeys plans to offer as many showings as needed for all interested viewers to see the film. Hunt is also bringing Simon to Asheville in April for a Spiritual Cinema workshop — the only East Coast date for 2005.
“I’ve heard the reviews are mixed from people who’ve seen [Indigo],” Hunt admits. But it’s not so much about Oscar-winning performances, and even Simon — who knows Hollywood — has no illusions of the Spiritual genre going mainstream.
When asked about that possibility, the producer laughs. “I have two answers: I don’t care … and I hope not, for the sake of the stories.”
Check out Indigo at these locations:
• Mystic Journeys (333 Merrimon Ave., 253-4272): Saturday, Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.; and at 7 p.m. each night Monday, Jan. 31 through Wednesday, Feb. 2.
• Unity Center (2041 Old Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher; 891-8700 or 684-3798): Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m.
• Creative Thought Center (747 S. Haywood St., Waynesville; 456-9697): Saturday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.
• Center for Creative Living (2 Science of Mind Way, 253-2325): Saturday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m.