By C.J. Hirschfield
September 16, 2022
Gratitude and mindfulness are the subject of countless books right now, with credible medical studies showing that cultivating these practices can actually improve both physical and mental health.
So it’s understandable that award-winning director, cinematographer and producer Louie Schwartzberg has chosen the title “Gratitude Revealed” for his visually stunning and thought provoking new documentary. It could also have been titled “Joy,” or “Celebrating Life,” or even “Sharing my Forty Years of Capturing Beautiful and Meaningful Images.”
Because in his new film, Schwartzberg has borrowed freely from a number of his previous films, shot over his long career: America’s Heart and Soul, Wings of Life, Mysteries of the Unseen World, and even his recent (and well-received) documentary Fantastic Fungi, (now screening on Netflix), adding new interviews with luminaries and thought leaders to tie it all to the gratitude theme. And I’m not complaining—what the film might lack in continuity (gratitude is broadly defined and often intertwined with curiosity, imagination, community, observation, generosity, patience and trust), it makes up for in its heart, diversity of subjects, and again, stunning visuals. Schwartzberg is the acknowledged king of time-lapse cinematography, and the scenes from nature are breathtaking, and inspiring.
The best way to enjoy this film is to just lean back, and enjoy the spectacular ride. We meet artists, dancers, cooks, farmers (all from America’s Heart and Soul), as well as hearing from Norman Lear, Deepak Chopra and others, each of whom speaks to resilience and hope. Schwartzberg is himself featured in the film, and we learn that his parents were Holocaust survivors who saw every day as a gift. Appreciation of family, community, food, nature, and even challenges– can provide a fulfilling counterpoint to cognitive overload and overwork.
There is also a surprise, animated gem placed well into the film—a four minute poem about getting older, written and performed by spoken word poet IN-Q. It’s musings about a couple celebrating the age of 85 with love and compassion—well, a Kleenex might be a good thing to have on hand.
As one of the interviewees says in the film, “Sometimes things are taken away; sometimes things are given to you. You have to appreciate the things that you have.”
GRATITUDE REVEALED opens September 16 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, the New Parkway in Oakland, the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael Village East in New York and the Laemmle Monica Film Center; and September 23 at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley. Other national showings can be found here.
There were Q&A’s following selected screenings of GRATITUDE REVEALED. (updated September 18)
**Friday, 9/16 following the 7:15pm show with Alex and Allyson Grey in person, Co-founders & Ministers of CoSM- – Village East Cinemas, New York; and Director Louie Schwartzberg (virtual)-Q&A Wed., 9/21 following 7:15pm show – Speaker to be announced for World Gratitude Day Celebration!
**Louie Schwartzberg will participate in Q&As at the Laemmle Monica Film Center following the 5:20 and 7:30 pm screenings on Friday, September 16
**Saturday, September 17 4:15 pm – The Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael-Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg with film subjects Dr. Christine Carter (sociologist, author, speaker, and coach focused on helping people thrive) and Lynne Twist (author and financial visionary) and moderator Nina Wise (Artistic Director of Motion at Spirit Rock).
**Saturday, September 17 6:30 pm – Roxie Theater in San Francisco- Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg with film subject Dr. Christine Carter and Tiffany Shlain (author and moviemaker).
Gratitude | Louie Schwartzberg | TEDxSF
Ocean Robbins interviews Louie Schwartzberg on the power of fungi, healthy food and gratitude
C.J. Hirschfield retired after 17 years as Executive Director of Children’s Fairyland, where she was charged with the overall operation of the nation’s first storybook theme park. Prior to that, she served as an executive in the cable television industry where she produced two series, ran San Francisco’s public access channel and advocated on behalf of the industry. A former writer for Film Month, she also penned a weekly column for the Piedmont Post for 13 years and now writes features and reviews for EatDrinkFilms. C.J. holds a degree in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University.
Hirschfield currently serves on the programming team for the Appreciating Diversity Film series showing free documentaries in Oakland and Piedmont, as well as on the advisory board of Youth Beat, a youth media training program that provides low-income Oakland students with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in today’s workforce.
C.J. says, “A good documentary takes us places we never could never have imagined, and changes the way we see the world.”