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The "ever turning wheel of life" on film


Imagine you can witness the most beautiful, and most disturbing, sights in the world. Riding a hot air balloon over exquisite Burmese temples; descending into poisonous sulfur mines in Java; meeting robot clones in Japan; exploring factory farms in China. These are some of the images of Samsara: a new feature film from Emeryville director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson now showing in Berkeley and San Francisco.

The team traveled through 25 nations to create a movie clearly designed for the big screen. Their 70-millimeter cameras and time-lapse techniques capture images of nature, spirituality, life, death, and hope, without a word of narration. Sound overwhelming? It would be, but five years of careful planning and editing make Samsara a guided meditation, affording viewers a chance to reflect upon the purpose of life in 2012.

Fricke and Magidson previously collaborated on the non-verbal feature films Chronos and Baraka. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with them, and asked them to reflect on a recurring scene in their latest film: the painstaking creation of a sand mandala by several monks in a remote mountain temple.

Listen to the full interview above.

Samsara is now showing at the Embarcadero Theater in San Francisco and the Shattuck in Berkeley. Hear the filmmakers discuss the movie’s portrayal of some of the most human robots in the world conversation at here.

Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.