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 2008 “Intolerance, Social Justice and Reconciliation in Film” was the theme.


  • To understand how film can function to evoke experiences of intolerance, social justice, and reconciliation across cultures and across time in both the film characters and in the lives of the participants
  • To understand the importance of social justice and reconciliation for positive states of mind/body.

    “We will either learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


In the Heat of the Night DVD

The current state of world affairs, marked by racial/ethnic, political, and religious irrational hatred, cries out for social justice and reconciliation.  Yet how can this be achieved?  Nelson Mandela has said, “True reconciliation does not consist of merely forgetting the past.”  This workshop will face with compassion human darkness worldwide, from past eras to the present moment.  What emerges from the films originating from the United States, Germany, Canada, South Africa/Britain/Italy, and Britain, is a message of timely hope.  Again and again, tiny miracles of humanity are revealed in these films, in accord with the words of the Talmud:  “Whoever saves one life, saves the entire world.”

Films shown in this order:

Intolerance (1916)
Broken Blossoms (1919)
Far From Heaven (2002)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Water (2005)
Jesus Camp (2006)
Mother Teresa (1986)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
The Lives of Others (2006)
Gandhi (1982)
Common Man, Uncommon Vision (2001)
Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2001)

Late-night bonus films shown:

Crash (2005)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
The Tramp and the Dictator (2002)
Brahms: A German Requiem (Abbado, 1997)
Amazing Grace (2007)


Br. David Steindl-Rast
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.