In June, just before Conference, we were approached by friends of the famous Argentinian actress Graciela Borges, who told us they might be able to get the new film, “Mystical Traveler: The Life and Times of Dr. John-Roger” accepted in the annual Mar del Plata international film festival. The festival is one of the most prestigious in the world—and the most prestigious in Latin America—and Graciela Borges is one of Argentina’s most famous actresses. If you’re from the U.S. think Meryl Streep, or if you’re from the U.K. think Helen Mirren, and you’ll get the idea.
So Graciela and her son Juan Cruz Bordeu, along with longtime MSIA’er Cate Kirby, looked for ways to get the film shown and promoted, they talked to Jsu Garcia (who directed the film along with John-Roger), and together they got the film accepted and scheduled at the festival.
The next step was getting J-R to the festival. Jsu ran the idea by J-R but didn’t get the green light until just before it started. Jsu told me, “One night I woke up in a cold sweat imagining myself at 80 years old, full of regret, wishing that I had tried harder to get J-R and the teachings out there. So I kept at it. Even if J-R indicated that he wasn’t interested in going, I would keep a travel plan available in case he changed his mind. And at the last minute he said OK. All along, I was just thinking of that movie line, ‘Build it and he will come.’ It’s been like a dream and I find it miraculous that J-R would come at the 11th hour to support the film and to spread the light to the Argentinian people.”
So J-R took off with a few friends. It was bus to airport to bus to hotel, rest, bus to airport to Buenos Aires, then on to the beautiful beach resort Mar del Plata, a five hour bus ride from Buenos Aires through cow-studded fields. Sort of a combination of La Jolla and Brighton, England.
If it weren’t for Graciela, none of this would have happened. And she had huge help from some very accomplished and influential people in Argentina, whose devotion to Graciela and/or J-R made it all work: her son, MSIA Minister and actor Juan Cruz Bordeu; MSIA Minister Catherine Kirby; Jose Martinez Suarez, President of the Festival, longtime friend of Graciela (and of Errol Flynn and lots of the old Hollywood stars during his film career spanning the period of 1929 to the present—a 90-year-old gentleman who has been involved in the Mar del Plata film festival since its founding by Juan Peron in 1953); Jorge Telerman, former mayor of Buenos Aires and National Secretary of Culture; Fernando Spiner, producer of the festival who helped get the movie accepted; and Guillermo Rossi, in charge of Special Activities, who was a great help getting the technical details ironed out.
It was amazing to watch J-R in Argentina. There is an open-heartedness there that seems to enable people to “get” J-R with just the slightest contact. People would pass by him in a cafe or in front of a movie theater and ask who he is, much more often than in recent trips in the U.S. or England. That open-hearted quality seemed to give them a sensitivity that would see beyond the outer physical details and distractions, so that they could feel the light energy without any outer cues.
Our first night in Mar del Plata was the opening of the festival, and it was a huge, Felliniesque affair with crowds of fans (see the photos of Jsu, Graciela and our crew walking the red carpet, cheered by throngs of people behind barricades), paparazzi and film crews running through stately old European-style piazzas, the stars of Latin American cinema being interviewed in little pools of glaring video-light, mini-skirted guides dressed as drum majorettes in red uniforms and tall white hats, handsome young actors and older actresses making grand entrances at packed parties, like visiting royalty. Everywhere the journalists, photographers, fans and film crews followed Graciela—and us, since we were there as her guests.
The opening included a documentary detailing the history of the festival, with old black and white footage featuring Hollywood stars visiting Argentina, such as Edward G. Robinson, Errol Flynn, Fred McMurray, Mary Pickford, etc.
1. The Legislature of the city of Buenos Aires Honors John-Roger, November 2013, presented by Fernando de Andreis.
2. The Secretary of Culture of the Municipality of Mar Del Plata honors John-Roger’s activities and interest in Peace and Love.
3. Jorge Telerman, President of the Institute of Culture in the Province of Buenos Aires, together with Alvaro Rufiner, recognizes John-Roger for selfless service service towards World Peace 2013. Included in the award is a Badge of the city. Presented by Jorge Telerman and Alvaro Rufiner.
The next day we made the front page of the top three newspapers in Mar del Plata, with photos of Jsu, Graciela, Juan Cruz and Cate Kirby, and articles mentioning the Mystical Traveler movie. We touched a lot of people—for example, Jorge Telerman, National Secretary of Culture, was very moved by the story of J-R’s life and in one of the articles called him “one of those great people who do service in the world.”
Juan Cruz was quoted in one of the newspapers: “I’m referring to a marvelous film, Mystical Traveler, that we are going to present. The directors are amazing. It’s a beautiful film. “Mystical Traveler” is about John-Roger who has, for more than four decades, led the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. He has traveled the world teaching people how to live their lives filled with health, gratitude, love and peace.”
The next day we headed back to Buenos Aires, another 5-hour bus ride. Special thanks to our crew of Laurie Lerner (the movie’s producer), Heide Banks, Claudia Flores, Irwin and Marilyn Carasso, David Sand (photographer), Nat Sharratt, Nancy Fields, Joan Mayerson, Cate Kirby, and all the MSIA ministers in Argentina who joined us and celebrated with us along the way, held the light, and kept the party going.
DAY AFTER REVIEW
TRANSLATION OF NEWSPAPER ARTICLE IN “LA CAPITAL”,
MAR DEL PLATA, Monday November 18th, 2013
A Documentary about John-Roger
Graciela Borges presented “Mystical Traveler”
A different documentary, a homage by Graciela Borges to her spiritual leader – who was present in the theater – and an introspective look, literally into the soul. “Mystical Traveler” was screened yesterday at the Mar del Plata Film Festival.
“Mystical Traveler” is the title of the documentary on the life of spiritual leader John-Roger presented by actress and devotee Graciela Borges. Together with her son, Juan Cruz Bordeu and the movie’s director, Cuban-American Jesús García, Borges spoke lovingly about her teacher. With the guest of honor sitting in the fourth row of Los Gallegos theater, and before the start of the movie, Graciela Borges, visibly moved, spoke to the audience without ever taking her eyes off “those blue eyes”, her teacher’s, who is the leader/founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. Wearing a sand-colored shirt and black pants, her hair and makeup always impeccable, “la Borges” assured those present, “This is one of the most exciting moments of my life, because many friends who are not here, friends, family and I, owe him so much.”
The actress, who met John-Roger twenty years ago, added, “When I was a child, they used to scare me with the devil, and I was very afraid. So I had a little prayer card of an angel. Today I sleep with a photo of a little angel called John-Roger very close by me. He is one of the people I love most in the world.”
Very close to tears, the actress, protagonist of the movie “The Hands”, about the healer priest Padre Mario, continued, “When there is so much that confuses, such as sects, which we detest, and other similar things, to be close to the pure heart of someone whose life is about spiritual healing – which we all need – there is nothing else we can do except thank him from the bottom of our heart and say, ‘Teacher, we love you.’”
Borges invited the audience to look at life with their heart, “with the deep and divine feelings of the heart.”
Love is the Secret
Although John-Roger is 79 years old and is quite frail health-wise, Jesús García preferred to say that he co-directed “Mystical Traveler” with the protagonist, as part of the movie is made with John-Roger’s autobiographical material. It took three years to put together this documentary, as “John-Roger is quite old.” Told mostly in his own words as well as testimonies and interviews of friends and companions, “Mystical Traveler” contains John-Roger’s teachings, which can be summed up as “love and care for others”, and “look with eyes of caring, with loving eyes.”
With a dose of humor, John-Roger’s biography shows his birth in Rains, a small and poor town in Utah in 1934; his childhood complicated by respiratory problems; his first manifestations of unusual mental activity which was classified as clairvoyance; his youth, when he asked that his mind leave him in peace; his graduation as a psychologist. Roger also talks of his car accident in 1963, two surgeries, the removal of some of his organs and the out-of-body phenomena experience which he calls “mystical journey”, which started when he was in hospital, and when he began perceiving the suffering of other people who were hospitalized. “The movie is a documentary about my teacher, my friend, whose teachings are universal. He has come many times to Buenos Aires to give seminars. The last time he was in Argentina was in 1997, and he knew many people here,” said Jesús García, who traveled with a group of U.S. followers.
García knew of Graciela Borges since the 2006 Film Festival. She invited them to participate in this year’s Festival. “I knew that this Festival has a great tradition and we didn’t want to miss it.”