Documentary filmmaker Julianne Reynolds teams with The Global Watch Foundation
by Julianne Reynolds
My approach as a documentary filmmaker is to see life through the lens of curiosity and to capture stories that go beyond the limitations of human behavior and into the depths of the human soul.
Recently I spent 2 months filming in India, living in the villages of Tamil Nadu and the Thar Dessert of Rajasthan. Being a woman film director from Los Angeles at certain times offered some opposing but respective points of view on how the story could be told. It was a process of discovery and reflection of our current global push toward understanding the essence of human connection.
I teamed with The Global Watch Foundation. The Global Watch Foundation works with homeless children giving them a place they can call home. Many of these kids have no parents and live in dire poverty. From a western perspective, I saw poverty as a lack of material wealth; this soon lost its power when I ventured into the depths of village India. I found the village life enduring with many hidden lessons centered on the meaning of faith, community, and the importance of living close the earth. This immediacy we have garnished ourselves with in the modern world in ways have left us longing for something deeper and more soulful. The massive gun shooting in Parkland, Florida, happened while my crew and I were filming in Tamil Nadu and it further brought to light this universal human need for connection. When we bread disconnection, we tend to hurt others as if we are the victims.
The process of filmmaking is mysterious to me, especially documentary filmmaking, because the end result is never given to you. You have to trust in the unforeseen forces to guide you toward the story that “needs” to be told. After I finished filming in southern India, I met with Colleena Shakti and traveled into the Thar Desert close to the Pakistani boarder where the Langa Musicians live. Filming in the desert had its challenges, with the heat, sand and lack of electricity, but the richness of the people and the music was a discovery beyond the confines of my understanding of what true art is. The story was simple. They lived a simple life with very little access to modern forms of technology; their main form of technology is storytelling which is how they've been creating music for over thousands of years.
All the stories that I have collected during my travels throughout India belong to humanity and deserve to be respected. These stories are not to be packaged as a commodity but viewed as a message from God. As a filmmaker I have the ability to see beyond the small mind and into the human spirit. A common place that is rich in color and rhythm. I want to learn. I want to see who and how we can connect through stories of triumph, through stories of faith, through stories of love. Filming in India for over 2 months, has given me the hope that despite all the political and social injustices that exist in our world, there is a world soul. A place where we can call home. A place that we can connect through our communities and through our tribes. It’s a common place where telling our stories can give us hope.