Michael Yorke: Holy Men and Fools

Here is a non-official trailer of that really interesting documentary by Michael Yorke…

(Michael Yorke and Uma Giri discussing the film “Holy Men and Fools” in July 2009 at the OADF ethnographic film making workshop)

Award-winning filmmaker Michael Yorke sets off on a pilgrimage across the high Himalayas. His guides are Uma, a retired Swedish model who has spent 25 years seeking enlightenment, and Vasisht, a charismatic young Indian holy man. Together they wander the mountains, living in the caves and huts of reclusive mystics who have sacrificed all on their path to God. Michael’s aim is to understand this extraordinary life of devotion and extreme penance, but Uma and Vasisht feel their esoteric secrets should not be divulged to foolish outsiders. As friendship develops, Michael is forced to confront his own spiritual path; can he trade his western logic and reason for faith and intuition? After his rare and intimate glimpse into the hidden world of Hindu asceticism, will Michael end up on the side of the wise men or the fools?

This is a deeply personal film exploring a subject that I have always found fascinating – how people satisfy their inner spiritual needs. It is a story of deep faith. It follows the search for ultimate truth in one of the most radical religious disciplines in the world, and the rewards that it brings to those capable of submission to the will of God. As an anthropologist I have spent my life studying Indian culture. I have made numerous films for television – for the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK, CNN in the USA and NHK in Japan. I have won many awards for my films including the Golden Gate Award for best documentary in 1992, the Royal Television Society Award for Best Team Production in 2002, the BBC Asia Award in 2002, UN Environmental Program Award in 1996 and the National Geographic Earthwatch Award in 1990. As an anthropologist I have spent my life studying Indian culture. I have made numerous films for television broadcast on the BBC, the UK Channel Four, CNN in the USA and Japan’s NHK, among others.

“Shooting with Holy Men”
Hindu holy men live by the sun and the stars, rather than the clock and the calendar. Their life is unruly and totally in tuitive. They carry no maps and chart no history. At a moment’s whim they will up and go.They are not an easy subject for the camera, but when they do open up the results are startling. My previous experience filming with holy men allowed me unique access to their esoteric practices and traditions, but didn’t prepare me for the rigours of this journey. We slept in caves, begged for our food and climbed from the boiling heat of the Indian plains into snow-capped peaks at over 14,000 feet in the Himalayas. To shoot this film I had to be a one-man team with a Sony PD150, a tripod and a solar battery -charger strapped over my backpack. For 18 days everything had to be carried by a local porter and myself.. This way of filming developed an intense intimacy with my traveling partners, and provoked the most unexpected responses in myself.

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