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By Mary Gervase

The Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival returns to Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey, Idaho, September 8-11, 2006, once again offering the world a unique selection of spiritually diverse independent films.

Following the success of last year’s debut film festival, created to compliment His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s historic visit to the Sun Valley area, support grew to present an annual event that explores the world’s spiritual traditions through the universal language of film.

“Film is a wonderful medium through which to present the rich tapestry of spiritual traditions that exist in the world. It transcends boundaries, and speaks to all cultures,” states SVSFF co-founder, Claudio Ruben.

The 2006 festival program will present feature films and documentaries that explore spiritual traditions from around the world, as well as films that cherish the human spirit. Several premiers will be screened, and awards, including a cash prize, will also be presented. Complementing the films will be discussion panels with internationally recognized filmmakers and spiritual leaders, as well as Q&A sessions with Directors after the screenings.

Film Program Themes

Spirituality in the World - Over 100 films and documentaries from nearly 20 countries have been submitted for consideration and many more are still arriving. While the final program has not yet been confirmed, topics include Buddhism, Native American Spirituality, Dance, Christianity, Rastafarianism, Yoga, Fundamentalism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, Sufism, and much more.

Cherishing the Human Spirit - This component of the program offers films and documentaries that reveal the lives of ordinary people who, through a strong sense of determination and faith, have transcended intense challenges in their lives.

Children and Spirituality – Inspirational film selections that are either for, by, or about children and young people.

Leaders of the Film World to Attend

The Film, Arts, & Spirituality Panels will offer a forum for the public to engage with filmmakers and spiritual leaders on a variety of topics including interfaith discussions and the interconnectedness of creativity and spirituality in the art of filmmaking.

Internationally recognized leaders slated to attend the festival are Dr. Mathew Fox, Dr. Nathan Katz, and Sharon Janis.

Dr. Mathew Fox, the author of 26 books, was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He is the recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award putting him in the distinctive company of the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks as previous award winners. He believes that by “reinventing work, education and worship we can bring about a non-violent revolution on our planet.”

Dr. Nathan Katz founded the Spirituality Department at Florida International University to explore the vast but largely ignored field of “secular spirituality.’’ He is considered a recognized expert in the fields of Indo-Judaic Studies, South Asian religions; Judaism; Buddhism in India, Tibet, Sri Lanka; and the Jews of India. Raised in a traditional Jewish household, he has been an Orthodox Jew, a former Sufi dervish, a Tibetan Buddhist yogi and a friend of the Dalai Lama.

Sharon Janis is an accomplished filmmaker, author, speaker, musician, and owner of Night Lotus Productions, which creates documentaries and other videos and films with the intention of bringing light to the world through creative works. After living a decade of monastic ashram life, producing and editing hundreds of videos for the worldwide web of Siddha Yoga devotees and students, Sharon moved to Hollywood for a diverse television and film career, producing and editing some of the most popular television shows of the 1990’s, winning many awards, and working with such notables as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alan Funt, Charlie Rose, Suze Orman, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and many others. Sharon is the author of several popular books, including Spirituality for Dummies, Secrets of Spiritual Happiness, and many more.

Sun Valley Company is offering a discounted group room rate for all film festival attendees. Please call 800-786-8259 for reservations.

For up to date information and final film program selections and speakers please check our website:


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Journey into the Unknown
A Retreat into Radiance

“Every journey begins when you say yes to what is then unknown. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will learn that all the steps were known to your heart before the first step was taken. In this sacred dance the unknown which calls you is your own higher name. It is spoken always in your heart of hearts, waiting only to be heard above the din of the lower mind’s constant searching for the true way to know its own name. When you have searched a long time, Grace may then find you and send you a friend who knows well the ways of light and spirit. In this gift there is still much mystery, and yet a resonant tone which says ‘Here you have found more than you imagined.’ “

– Steven Floyd, speaking of his experience of awakened mystic, Elle Collier Re.


By Sor'a Garrett

This quote is such a pure reflection of my own journey with this teacher—a journey that has taken me beyond anything I could have imagined, where I am so very grateful that my heart did, indeed, know the Way.

You might find some of my story interesting … but it’s really just a story, and what I really want you to know is where my heart has taken me, and where yours might, too, if you take such a step into the unknown. For the path into the sacred is ultimately about letting go of all that we think we know, as we open to what ‘IS’. It’s a journey of listening beyond the layers of mind, beyond the astral realm where illusions still linger, straight into the Heart of God where only Truth resides.

I’m a true believer in making time each year (as often as possible) to break out of familiar routines … to retreat from the ‘ordinary’ in a way that encourages us to look with fresh eyes. More than a normal vacation, a good retreat will sing us back into life and transform our experience of living even after we return.

Most people don’t need to be convinced of the truth of this. And, if you’re living a spiritual life, you likely even have daily practices that will keep you somewhat fresh & connected. I do, and still the daily routines become stale after awhile, my heart refusing to blossom to its radiant fullness. I begin to find life just a little too boring & predictable, and so I regularly build time into my life to reclaim the magic.

This year, in addition to regularly scheduled retreats within my chosen spiritual community, I am going on an art adventure. Last year, I took in a writing retreat. A few years back, I immersed myself in sound healing with Tom Kenyon. These types of getaways keep my creativity alive and breathe newness into my work. They feel essential to my continued evolution as a creativity coach/inspiration guide.

My spiritual retreats, on the other hand, breathe me into newness, bringing my inner and outer radiance more & more alive. When I started this type of questing, stepping into the unknown to embrace what my heart somehow knew to be my Way, I was fortunate to find a teacher who would support me, completely & with unending devotion, to never give up the quest.

For, though sometimes I’d like to believe otherwise, it certainly is an ongoing quest to live a life connected to Spirit. And while much of our quest is intended to be from within, it’s been a priceless treasure to have a guide who will partner with me to see the preciousness that I don’t always see in myself … to help me peel the layers I’ve put on over the years to hide the essence of being that is really “me.” For when those layers are peeled away, I am again able to reconnect with the Greatness that is always available, but only realized when I return to complete innocence and faith.

This is what a teacher such as Elle Re can offer, if we are ready to receive it—a way to bring our truest purpose to earth and inspire us to live in constant connection to that which we are ultimately here to serve. In this teacher, my heart has found its way home, even as the mystery continues to unfold before me.

I’ll be making time to wash myself back to Essence at the INEI~RE retreat center again this summer. I invite you to meet me there … or to find another sacred way to tune yourself into ever-more-radiant beingness with a retreat into your essential Self.

If you are interested in the retreats at INEI-RE, Gate of Return, please visit the website at, or call 1-866-630-Love.

Sor’a Garrett is founder of Inspired Connections and co-creator of The Radiant Being discovery process. She can be contacted through or

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Photo Courtesy of Suckadelic and JK5

School is Out

...... of Whack


By Grace Horowitz

As a teenager, I struggled to find my own identity and instead of helping, school hindered my development. Once I entered high school I became increasingly bitter that there was no understanding for kids like me -‘alternative kids’. It was not an unwillingness to learn, I just did not feel like conforming to the public schools paradigm and learning algebra was the right way for me to do things. Because of the lack of alternatives I was offered, I dropped out, like so many ‘different’ teens across America.

Unfortunately, my problems were not uncommon. Daily, dozens of smart, interesting adolescents are dropping out of school because it does not work for them. Personally I was on a quest to find myself, and I felt that instead of helping me through that journey, the school authority discouraged that growth in me. There are options in smaller communities that have the funding called alternative schools, usually thought to house the ‘bad children’ that could not cut it in regular public schools. Alas, bigger cities do not have enough money for things like the Silver Creek Alternative School and so under-privileged kids are out of luck if they cannot make it in public school systems. Against the odds, more options are beginning to pop up across the smaller communities of the United States.

There are many approaches to Alternative schooling, from simply offering a healthier diet to having well rounded teachers. For example, the Silver Creek Alternative School offers a more community based program as well as smaller classes and thus more attentive teachers. A school in the midwest offers freshly prepared food and conscious teachers as a way to reach out to the kids and help them grow. So examples are being made everywhere. If only our government would make the military throw bake sales as that bumper sticker so blatantly points out, perhaps there would be more options in places such as New York City or Los Angeles.

Everyone can contribute to helping out our youth, if we only consider the next great president could be attending Wood River High School, or another Abbie Hoffman is struggling to pass Music Theory at the Community School. So the next time you see kids trying to raise money for books by having a car wash or bake sale, do our future a favor, take the time. Stop for a minute and help the people that will be taking care of us when we are older. Look for ways to support Alternative School programs in our community, every bit makes a difference.


Grace can be reached for comment at


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