DAILY NEWS PRESS ARTICLE MARCH
FOCUS ON FAITH -Film to
celebrate religious diversity
New York Daily News; New York, N.Y.; Mar 24, 2003;
CLEM RICHARDSON DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER;
Copyright Daily News, L.P. Mar 24, 2003
Whether Christian, Jew, Buddhist, animist, Muslim or a
practitioner of any other faith, Muriel Stockdale believes
we're more alike than different.
Though we may be divided by what we believe, we're united
in our devotions to those beliefs, Stockdale said. And that,
she believes, can save us. That's why Stockdale, 50, has
joined fellow filmmakers Manech Ibar and Casey Meade Rothstein-Fitzpatrick,
both 27, to create "New York Spirit," a documentary
of how we pray. "The idea is to show the many different
ways people in this city practice their communication with
God," Stockdale said. "New York is a paradigm
for peace. We have people of all faiths living peacefully
next to each other. "This can be our great gift to
the world, showing them how we not only live together in
harmony in this city, but how we also celebrate our differences."
Stockdale said she had the idea for the work long before
Sept. 11, 2001. That day, though, and the waves of anxiety
that have gripped the city since, provided more motivation
to get it done. Stockdale met Ibar after they struck up
a conversation in an online chat room devoted to film projects.
Ibar in turn recruited Rothstein-Fitzpatrick, who had just
finished his documentary "Take Me to the River."
The film's subject is the Maha Kumbh Mela, a religious event
held in India every three years that is the largest gathering
of Hindu worshipers in the world. For "New York Spirit,"
the filmmakers hope to follow New Yorkers as they practice
their devotions. They expect to include everyone from parishioners
at St. Patrick's Cathedral to people practicing tai chi
in Central Park to Bible readers in the subway. "The
film will occur in a hypothetical single day in the life
of New York City, starting in the morning and going to dusk,"
Stockdale said. "It will show people practicing their
spirituality on an ordinary day, not a special day like
the Sabbath." "We want to capture this beautiful
symphony of difference," Ibar said. "There is
art in prayer, like the way an artist connects to a particular
subject. We want to show that connection being made by people
in all walks of life." "We want the audience to
share in the experience," Rothstein- Fitzpatrick said.
"The more we understand each other's experiences, the
more we understand each other."
The three envision camera crews following individual New
Yorkers to capture their spiritual life - perhaps Vedic
mantras on Queens Blvd., an imam calling followers to prayer
in an East Village mosque, a Hasidic man and his son headed
to synagogue. It will be filmed in documentary style and
have a "real time" feel. The three are not sure
how subjects for the high-definition film will be chosen,
or for that matter, found. "We're hoping people will
contact us on the Web site www.nycspirit.com," Stockdale
The process could prove difficult, given that New Yorkers
hail from virtually every country in the world and have
as many or more religious beliefs. The filmmakers also are
hoping the site will become a kind of clearinghouse for
people seeking religious connections, Stockdale said. "The
way we envision it, if someone came to the city and wanted
to find a tai chi class or a Reiki master, they could use
the Web site to link to that organization," Stockdale
said. The filmmakers plan to use devotional music as the
documentary's soundtrack. A full version of the musical
snippets on the soundtrack later would be released on compact
disk, Stockdale said. The filmmakers still are seeking financial
backers and ask those interested to contact them through
the Web site. "We want this to be an important historical
piece as well," Stockdale said.
Caption: HEIDI SCHUMANN Manech Ibar, Muriel Stockdale and
Casey Fitzpatrick (l. to r.) hope to show how spirituality
unites us in "New York Spirit."
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