"Bee Season" Premiers in Toronto
BY: SUN STAFF
Sep 15, USA (SUN) The movie "Bee Season" was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th and 13th, and audience reviews have been exceptionally good. The movie is eagerly anticipated by the devotee community, because it features temple kirtana scenes and a dream sequence wherein Srila Prabhupada emerges from his murti form in the mind of one of the characters.
In the movie, Richard Gere plays the father (Saul), an esteemed professor of religious studies whose son begins exploring alternative spiritual traditions when family pressures build at home. As described in the movie's pre-screening review:
"Turning away from the family, Max takes refuge in the least expected places - with his new Hare Krishna girlfriend. To learn more about the Hare Krishna temple and its appeal, Max visited a local chapter. "I spoke to some of the members, saw a service and talked to some experts who helped to explain what the devotees do, how they act and what kinds of things they go through. I had known very little about it, so it was actually really fascinating and they treated us very well," he recalls."
"For the scenes in the hare Krishna temple where Aaron falls in love with Chali, the filmmakers invited some 40 Hare Krishna devotees from around the state of California to create an authentic "kirtan" - or chanting ceremony - on an Oakland-based set."
While the Hare Krsna devotees have been depicted in thousands of television and movie clips over the years, "Bee Season" presents it in a significantly different light. Not only is this an "A" movie with a leading actor of Richard Gere's stature, the film treats the Hare Krsna movement to a serious exploratory, rather than showcasing cultural elements, like devotees in the airports, intended more for comedic relief than spiritual contemplation.
This movie is describing as weaving "a sensitive tapestry of emotional light and darkness, incorporating moments of magic realism that transport audiences onto another plane of understanding", as the movie "zeroes in on what happens to a family’s emotional equation when one member no longer plays their role". Krsna Consciousness is depicted here as a bonafide religion, on par with Christianity and Judism. We can hope that the anticipated popularity of Bee Season will turn this attitude into a trend that brings a great deal more favorable attention to Srila Prabhupada's transcendental movement.
Reviewers who attended the Toronto screening say the film is nearly masterpiece quality, and will likely appear on the Oscar candidates list. "Bee Season" presents a variety of views on spirituality, coming to no conclusions other than the lesson that ultimately, spiritual life is up to the individual. This personal search is experienced by all of the characters who journey through the film.
In the movie, Aaron becomes intrigued with a free-spirited girl named Chali (Kate Bosworth), whose involvement with the Hare Krsnas captures Aaron's interest. Whether it's the girl or the religion that most attracts Aaron may be unclear. The film follows his exploration of different religions, as he wonders if his father's choice of Judaism is best for him. In one scene, Aaron passes by a Catholic Church service and decides to give it a try.
In preview clips from the movie, we see Aaron and sari-clad Chali, and a scene with Aaron dressed in a kurta shirt. In a scene that will likely be reminiscent for many who joined Srila Prabhupada's movement, we see an argument between Aaron and his father. Aaron is angrily pointing a finger into his fathers chest as a bead bag swings from around his neck.
"Bee Season" is scheduled to hit theaters in cities around the country on November 11th. We look forward to hearing many positive reviews from the devotee community and the popular press.