Since 1990 Dr. Francis Lu and Brother David Steindl-Rast have led annual 5- or 7-day film seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  Films on a particular spiritual theme (such as Healing Through Gratefulness) are shown and discussed, focusing on the participants’ personal experiences.  In 2006 “Renewing Wholeness:  The Spiritual Experience of Viewing Great Films” was the theme.


In celebration of their 15th Esalen film seminar together, Francis and Brother David presented a 7-day retrospective of great films that were highlights of past seminars. Themes included (listed in the order of the films shown):

+  Integrity
+  The quest for wholeness
+  The inner child
+  Animals, angels, and other spiritual allies
+  Forgiveness
+  Gratefulness
+  The spirit of humor
+  Faith and resilience
+  Contemplation
+  Serenity
+  Nirvana and salvation
+  Exuberance, creativity, and delight
+  Film and the remembering of love

Films shown in this order:

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Babette’s Feast (1987)
My Life as a Dog (1985)
Into the West (1992)
East of Eden (1955)
Tuesdays with Morrie (1999)
City Lights (1931)
The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Tokyo Story (1953)
Rhapsody in August (1991)
Ikiru (1952)
French Cancan (1954)
Bagdad Cafe (1987)
Casablanca (1942)

Late-night Bonus Films shown:

Queen Christina (1933)
The Road Home (1999)
The King of Masks (1996)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Gustav Mahler 8th Symphony (1975 DVD with Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic)