for ISKCON News on April 19, 2012
“Today We Have the Power,” a new documentary film about spiritual activism directed by Radha-Vallabha Dasa—a brahmachari monk at New York’s Bhaktivedanta Ashram—has just been released on DVD.
But its creator, who worked on the film over a ten year period, has more to celebrate than just that. The documentary has been accepted into the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) and will be screened at this year’s event.
Representatives of the Festival told Radha-Vallabha they thought “Today We Have the Power” was an important film, and that they were excited to have it.
The film documents the “Battle in Seattle” of November 30th, 1999, when 80,000 protestors descended upon Seattle to speak out against multinational corporations and the World Trade Organization, but were brutally attacked by police with tear gas and riot gear.
Showing interviews with key figures on both sides of the issue, “Today We Have the Power” discusses the selfishness of the modern system, but reaches a different conclusion from most other documentaries on social activism.
“The core message is based on a quote from my guru Radhanath Swami, who says in the film that if we want to do something to change the world, we must start with the ecology of our own heart,” says Radha-Vallabha. “All the core problems our society faces can only be confronted in the most meaningful way when we’re endeavoring to address the deeper spiritual crisis.”
The Seattle True Independent Film Festival runs from May 4th through 11th at various different theaters around the city. Today We Have the Power will screen at 8:00pm on Wednesday May 9th at the Grand Illusion Cinema.
For monk Radha-Vallabha, STIFF has been a Godsend, and a great opportunity to get his film out into the world.
“When the independent film industry started, it was composed mainly of homemade, low budget films,” he says. “But in the last ten years, festivals like Sundance have been flooded with films that while individually funded, have $1 million budgets and all-star Hollywood casts and crews. STIFF, started in 2005, is one of the few that still focuses on small, personally-funded films. Films like mine, that cost $30,000, spread over a bunch of credit cards!”
If Radha-Vallabha’s film wins the festival’s grand prize, he’ll get the chance to meet with film executives, who could purchase the distribution rights.
Even if he doesn’t win, there’s the chance to get reviewed by a major film critic in the Seattle Times, which would help to build the film’s credibility, and could eventually lead to a distribution deal too.
“It’s a long shot, so I’m not going with too many hopes and expectations,” Radha-Vallabha says. “But I’m excited to be there and to see that the film is getting some recognition.”
After the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, he plans to launch a summer-long guerilla marketing campaign in New York City, getting online reviews for the film and screening it in communities interested in the topic.
“By the end of the summer, I hope to have built up enough support to get a week-long theatrical run in New York City, which will make the film eligible to reviewed by a New York film critic,” Radha-Vallabha says. “That will give me a great chance to attract the attention of someone in the industry.”
“Today We Have the Power” already has the public’s attention. Youth who attended a screening of the 63-minute film in Seattle last December approached Radha-Vallabha, and told him that they had been very active in the Seattle chapter of the Occupy Movement, and were very grateful for his film.
“They said it had come at just the right time for them,” he says. “They wanted to take their activism to a new level, and to add a spiritual component.”
It’s a step that can only mean great things for the future of activism.
To purchase Today We Have the Power on DVD, please visit: