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About The Film


Heal Ourselves, Heal Our Planet

Created From a Concept by Barbara Altemus

A Documentary Film

Directed by Oscar Nominated Filmmaker William Gazecki

Do you ever think about what kind of world we are passing on to our children and to the future generations?

Do you take the time to listen to our children's voices filled with hope and concern about their future?

THE CALLING follows a mother, her daughter and a group of multicultural youth as they journey across the globe seeking wisdom and solutions from elders and visionaries to our most urgent individual and planetary challenges. It is the story of a mother's quest to give her daughter and her peers the gift of hope at a time when we face unprecedented crises in ourselves and our world.

What do you say when your child asks you if the world is going to end? That is the staggering question 18-year-old Imani asks her mother, Barbara, one day while they are talking. For Barbara, there is no simple response she can offer; instead she realizes that she needs to give her daughter much more than just an answer. She needs to give her the conviction that the world will survive and the confidence that she and her generation can make that happen.


In their short lives, Imani and her peers have already faced personal hardships such as death, divorce, racism, poverty, drug addiction, depression and abuse. On a larger scale, they are constantly reminded that they are inheriting a world afflicted by global warming, nuclear proliferation, war, poverty, hunger, cancer, AIDS and human rights violations. The weight of these concerns often leaves them feeling overwhelmed and powerless. As they come of age, they are struggling to find their place in life in the midst of all of these crises and are asking how they can find solutions and make a positive difference in the world.

Barbara is determined to help her daughter and these youth find answers and inspiration. Together, they embark on a journey around the world to meet with Nobel Peace Prize winners and the world's greatest teachers in spirituality, integrative medicine, indigenous wisdom, science, the arts and social activism. Some of these leaders include: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Wangari Maathai, Dr Larry Dossey, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. The travelers learn from these remarkable elders who share their personal stories of how they were able to rise above hardships, recognize their Calling and make significant changes in our world.

Through conversations with the elders, the youth experience history firsthand. As the stories unfold, they, and the viewer, are transported back to the dark prison of Robben Island in apartheid South Africa where prisoners labor in the lime quarry, the palace in Tibet where a 15-year-old is enthroned, the bloody winter massacre at Wounded Knee, a village in Guatemala ravaged by war, and a deforested plain in Kenya where a group of women gather to plant their first tree. They hear how hope was found in exile, peace in ceremony, community among strangers, inspiration in standing for truth, solutions in working together and transformation by converting one's pain into meaningfulness.

As the film progresses the youth begin to share their own stories. We learn about their backgrounds and the events that have led to this journey. Among them are:

  • Alisha – she has struggled to find stability in her home life. Her mother was addicted to crack cocaine for most of her life and her father abandoned her at the age of 3. She was raised by her grandfather until his sudden death when she was only 10. Since then, she has found a home with her loving grandmother.
  • Imani – she is a survivor of domestic and community violence. For most of her life she has had a strained relationship with her father, which has broadened her understanding of life. She was raised by her single mother in Hawaii and has lived and spent considerable time on Native American reservations, and in South Africa.
  • Anthony – he is the grandson of famed civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez. Proud of his legacy, he sometimes feels tremendous responsibility to share the work of his grandfather and to keep his spirit alive. At times he feels overwhelmed.
  • Ana – she is the granddaughter of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers. Her parents were divorced when she was very young and although she has experienced deep depression, she has successfully learned to move through this.

As the youth travel to the elders' cultures and homelands, they are better able to understand the elders’ teachings. In South Africa they explore the process of peace and reconciliation, learning about forgiveness; in Sri Lanka they observe a new social model based on traditional ways which has helped to eliminate hunger and poverty; in the U.S. they face the issue of nuclear proliferation, learning about ongoing uranium mining that has poisoned Native American people and their land with deadly radioactive waste; in Kenya, they see how humanity is threatening the planet and what drastic actions are being taken to heal it; in New Mexico they experience energy medicine and ground-breaking healing modalities. The group is awakened to deep places within themselves by connecting to the people, their cultures, and spiritual ways and to the beauty of the land.

Combining archival footage with the modern day journey of the youth, THE CALLING is a remarkable odyssey of transformation and healing. The mother and youth are awakened to The Calling, a call to live and think on a higher and more conscious level. This film will open the viewer's eyes to the myriad of possibilities available to us in healing ourselves so that we are able and inspired to heal our planet.


Project Status: The Calling is in production. We have filmed Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Mayan spiritual leaders in Guatemala, His Holinesss the Dalai Lama in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Ariyaratne in Oahu, Hawaii, The Longest Walk 2 – a walk from California to Washington D.C. led by Native American leaders and Buddhist Monks and joined by people from across the globe to stand up for social and environmental justice, The Gandhi-King Peace Train and the Living Legends conference with Arun Gandhi, Dolores Huerta and the late Yolanda King. Last fall we traveled to New Mexico where we filmed Dr. Larry Dossey in Santa Fe, as well as Lenny Foster and other leaders, healers and families on the Navajo reservation, which is directly affected by uranium mining, radioactive waste and a devastating radioactive spill. We are setting up interviews with Nelson Mandela, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Wangari Maathai.

Our goal is to film this summer in South Africa, Kenya and in various locations around the United States, including Hawaii, South Dakota, New York, New Mexico, and California. We plan to finish the bulk of production this winter with a trip to Dharamsala, India, Australia and Sri Lanka.

Some of the contributors who have already been filmed or committed to be filmed include:

  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • Rigoberta Menchu Tum
  • Arun Gandhi
  • Chief Arvol Looking Horse
  • Dick Gregory
  • Dr. Larry Dossey
  • Rev. Michael Beckwith
  • Joan Borysenko
  • Jean Houston
  • Jack Healey
  • Chief William Commanda
  • Ishmael Tetteh
  • Lynne Twist
  • Khen Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan
  • Robert Thurman
  • Dr. Helen Caldicott
  • Daniel Ellsberg
  • Dolores Huerta
  • Yolanda King
  • Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne
  • David Krieger
  • Blasé Bonpane
  • Barbara Marx Hubbard
  • Lenny Foster
  • Dr. Tobin Watkinson