“Long Lost,” a new 25-minute short film about a young man encountering Krishna consciousness as he searches for answers in life, is being well-received at film festivals and other events internationally.
In August at the Russian film festival “I See God,” which features different film-makers’ interpretations of how they perceive the Almighty, Long Lost was chosen for third place out of 65 shorts by the audience themselves.
The film was also recommended by the London Film Academy, and will be shown at the British Film Institute on October 31st along with other short works.
It has also been submitted to the prestigious American film festival Sundance in Utah, and if chosen by the jury it will be shown at the festival between January 22nd and February 1st 2015.
Long Lost tells the story of Tim, a young man whose chance encounter with a Hare Krishna devotee while on a night out with friends sparks a journey within, as he searches for answers to the deepest questions about life, love and the self.
Writer-director Shaktyavesha Avatar Das, who got his Master’s Degree in film production at the Royal Holloway University of London, was inspired by the five years he spent as a celibate monk at the Radha-Krishna Temple on Soho Street.
“The experience that I got at the temple was so strong, and the presence of some divine power so clear,” he says. “I thought that the language of cinema could be used to convey how all these coincidences happen in our lives which sometimes change them in a powerful way.”
To realize his vision, Shaktyavesha amassed a talented team of professionals. In the lead role as Tim is John Gould, who has performed in West End plays, commercials, and independent films. Abigail Boyd, who plays his girlfriend Jo, is also a professional actor who has worked in theater and film. And Radha-Londonisvara Das, who plays the devotee Tim meets, had previous theater experience before joining ISKCON.
Meanwhile producer Aashi Gahlot has worked for the BBC as a post production translator for Bollywood films, and cinematographer Laurynas Bolnis runs his own production company, BRR Films, which produced Long Lost.
Shooting for four days in central London this February, with an extra day in Avebury – a Stonehenge-like UNESCO World Heritage site – the team went for a naturalistic look and feel, with some stylistic touches (in the film’s opening scene, a steadycam glides in over Hare Krishna devotees chanting in a Harinama party).
The actors turned in heartfelt and sometimes emotional performances, informed by a personal connection to the material. John Gould, a friend of Krishna, spent two months at ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Manor near London before soul-searching in Vrindavana, India.
“Long Lost has invited me as an actor to put the core of my heart into my work,” he says.
And Abigail Boyd chants sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily, finding in Krishna consciousness the answers to her own search. “The spiritual message of the film has inspired me in my own work, and touches something in all of us – the willing to connect,” she says.
For his part, Shaktyavesha Avatar was also inspired in his spiritual path during the shoot.
“Every day we would get up and start shooting at 4:30am, and finish and go to bed at around midnight,” he says. “Then after four hours’ sleep we’d get up and start it all over again. It was really austere. But we were trying to make something about Krishna and for Krishna, and we actually felt how He was manifesting Himself and helping us in so many ways.”
Shaktyavesha reports many synchronistic incidents while filming that mirrored the journey of Long Lost’s main character. While looking for drivers for a rickshaw race scene, a dread-locked driver who had the perfect look for the part suddenly turned up offering to help, and refused payment when he found out the film-makers were Hare Krishnas.
While filming a scene where Tim visits the Radha-Krishna temple, Shaktyavesha was disappointed as he wanted to properly represent both male and female devotees, but the London ashram had mostly male members. Just as his crew began filming, however, a group of women entered the temple room – it turned out a ladies’ course was starting there that day.
Meanwhile the crew were given permission to film at Avebury for a meditation “dream sequence” in which Tim pours his heart out to Lord Krishna, despite the UNESCO heritage site’s many restrictions. They also succeeded in clearing the whole area of hundreds of tourists on its busiest day, and were met with a cloudless blue sky despite the previously rainy weather.
“We got a feeling like Krishna was showing us step by step what to do, and how to do it,” says Shaktyavesha.
He plans to screen Long Lost at the 45th anniversary of the presiding Deities of ISKCON London in November, and encourages devotees worldwide to share the film in their areas when it’s released online in January 2015.
Naturally, he also hopes that the Sundance Film Festival Jury appreciates the film. “That could open a whole new dimension for distribution,” he says.
Finally, he expresses his hope that the film encourages viewers to delve deep within like the characters.
“It was one of our biggest challenges to tell a catchy, touching spiritual story without being pushy or preachy,” he explains. “I believe there is a lot for us to work on, but we hope to keep on exploring this field of sharing Krishna Consciousness in an attractive way without trying to convert or recruit anybody. We feel happy, though, if somebody decides to go for a more spiritual lifestyle after watching the film.”
For more information, please visit http://www.brrfilms.com/longlost/.
Click here to watch the trailer: http://iskconnews.org/video/long-lost-trailer,708/#.VCQRtUuTfwI
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies