Competition Documentary Features
DIRECTED BY VIKRAM GANDHI
USA, 2011, 84 MIN
How best to make a point about blind faith? For filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, the answer was to go deep undercover by growing out his hair, adopting a kooky accent, and presenting himself as Kumaré, a perpetually grinning guru recently arrived from India. Setting up shop in Phoenix with a pair of lithe yoga babes, Kumaré recruits a cadre of followers whom he keeps enthralled with invented yoga poses and gibberish mantras (one of which translates to “Be all that you can be”). Basically, Kumaré encourages followers to recognize the guru within themselves. They respond by finding personal happiness, forcing Gandhi to question his own cynicism—how bad can a religion be if it actually helps people? As Kumaré gets ever more deeply entwined with his disciples, it becomes impossible for filmmaker Gandhi to play the final card and expose himself—he’s stuck living as a fraud. Believed to be the longest prank ever documented on film, KUMARÉ starts as an indictment of religious belief but ends up a weirdly sincere ode to spirituality and the true power of faith. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival, KUMARÉ is by turns funny, profound, and bracingly honest. Seeing it will cause you to review your religious beliefs or at least start to chant, “Kumaré, Kumaré, Kumaré.”
Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré) is a New York-based filmmaker and a graduate of Columbia University. He has directed and produced commercial campaigns for large clients as well as music videos, promos, and documentary pieces with a wide range of recording artists. When not in New York, Vikram is a freelance video-journalist reporting on terrorism, natural disasters, the economy, and human rights internationally for the Economist.com, Time.com, ABC, and CNN.
DIRECTED BY PATRICK KACK-BRICE
USA/FRANCE, 2011, 19 MIN
IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
The Beverley is the last cinema in Paris—maybe the world—still screening 35mm porn films. MAURICE captures the owner/projectionist clinging to a dying art as his entire world slips towards dodo-like extinction.