MISSION: JOY documentary

Date(s) - Sat, Jun 18, 2022
7:00 pm-10:00 pm

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Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely


This profound and jubilant documentary, exploring the remarkable friendship between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, is “an uplifting look at two revolutionary forces for good,” writes critic Nick Schager in Variety.
“As much a reminder of what connects us as human beings as it is a celebration of these two iconic spiritual leaders,” writes Annie Reneau in Upworthy.
“Simply a must-see,” writes Bev Questad in It’s Just Movies.
The award-winning film focuses on an April 2015 visit the renowned South African Anglican archbishop and anti-apartheid and human rights activist made to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama had not been allowed by Beijing to visit Tutu in South Africa in September 2011 for Tutu’s 80th birthday.
The two Nobel Peace laureates, who call each other their “mischievous spiritual brother,” look back on their long lives to answer a single question: How do they find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
The Dalai Lama speaks of the pain and distress he experienced in being removed from his mother at age 2 and having no loving parental figures growing up — and then, after being groomed to be the Tibetan leader, having to flee for his life to India in 1959. Tutu shares that, growing up, he did not intervene to help his mother when his father drank heavily and beat her.
Through rare archival footage and affecting animation, the documentary reflects on their personal hardships as well as the burden both men carry as world leaders dedicated to bringing justice and fighting authoritarianism.
“Their greatest defiance of all, however, appears to be their ability to maintain a mischievous and playful spirit in the face of their circumstances,” writes Michelle Hamada for the Tribeca Film Festival, where the film was an official selection. Hamada also calls the documentary the leaders’ “final joint gift to the world.”
Tutu died Dec. 26, 2021, at age 90.
The 2021 film — whose nationwide release date is July 21, more than a month after the Movies With Spirit screening — earned an award for documentary excellence at the 2022 Cleveland International Film Festival and a local jury award at this year’s Palm Springs (Calif.) International Film Festival. It runs 90 minutes and is not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
The documentary’s complete title is “Mission: Joy — Finding Happiness in Troubled Times.”
The film’s trailer can be found on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/Mission-Joy-MoviesWSpirit
The screening will be followed by a facilitated discussion. Refreshments will be served.
Attendees over age 12 are asked to contribute $10 a person.
Movies With Spirit screenings comply with all federal, state and local health and safety protocols, including those of the screening venues.
The monthly Movies With Spirit series, organized by Gerry Harrington of Kingston, seeks to stimulate people’s sense of joy and wonder, inspire love and compassion, evoke a deepened understanding of people’s integral connection with others and with life itself, and support individual cultures, faith paths and beliefs while simultaneously transcending them.
The films are screened in diverse places of worship and reverence across Ulster and Dutchess counties at 7 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month. Movies With Spirit has no religious affiliation.