Thursday, December 22, 2016

New Mexican filmmakers remind us of Gandhi's message - and courage

New Mexican filmmakers Kell Kearns, Director and Co-Producer, and Cynthia Lukas, Co- Producer, have created a moving tribute to Mahatma Gandhi that documents his final years before his assassination on January 30, 1948. It screened at The Guild in Albuquerque in November 2016, and in 2017, this film will be broadcast by American Public Television on PBS . 

The film weaves together archival film, photos and commentary from several experts along with one of Gandhi’s grandson to tell the story of his final years. It is an excellent introduction to Gandhi’s sacrifice for those who know little about his life. By focusing on his final years, the film producers ask and answer the question: were Gandhi’s final years his finest? 

When Gandhi was released from prison by the British in 1944, it was done because British authorities did not want him to die a martyr while locked up. They believed Gandhi, weak and in his late 70s, was near death. They had no concerns that he would continue his nonviolent movement to remove British rule from India. 

Gandhi healed himself and then shifted his focus to the violence that was killing thousands upon thousands of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. For his remaining years, he practiced self-sacrifice by occasional fasting, he continually met with opposing forces, and and tried to bring people together in peaceful co-existence. 

One of his most brave and dangerous pilgrimages is called “The Miracle of Noakhali.” After the slaughter of countless Muslims and Hindus, Gandhi and others walked barefoot 165 miles from one village to another with a message of peace. He interacted with people from both sides, believing conflicts would resolve when he asked Hindus and Muslims to live together peacefully. 

In the end, Gandhi is assassinated by a fellow Hindu. Gandhi’s death so shocked his fellow Indians that genocide by both sides stopped. It is believed that the feeling of loss by all and his self-sacrifice is the reason why Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs co-existed from that point forward in India. Gandhi’s goal, “an end to the pain of the suffering ones,” was achieved to an extent. His message of nonviolent resistance has resonated throughout the decades following his death. 

“Gandhi’s Gift” is Director-Producer Kell Kearns’ 15th independent film. Previously, he directed two acclaimed PBS Biographies: one of Martin Luther King, Jr. - “In Remembrance of Martin,” (1987), the second about the great Sufi poet - "Rumi Returning" (2007).
"Gandhi’s final years are especially inspiring because he showed our world a way out of the descending spiral of violence and hatred,” Kearns said. 

He and Co-Producer Cynthia Lukas are fortunate to have interviewed witnesses who actually grew up in the Mahatma’s presence. “One fascinating aspect of making this film has been meeting those who are living and teaching Gandhian principles of nonviolence, equality, interfaith harmony and sustainability,” Lukas said.  The link below gives more information on the film. 

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