In vivid and sensuous detail, Gurukulam
follows a group of students and their teacher as they confront fundamental questions about the nature of reality and self-identity at a remote forest ashram in southern India. Daily chores, meditation, ritual, and rigorous study are woven together connecting the natural and spiritual worlds in moments of surprising revelation and comic contradiction. Deeply observational and experiential, Gurukulam
evokes the presence of the place and a tactile sense of the sacred. The richly layered soundscape and the intimate imagery bring us into a place of extraordinary beauty and simplicity. From Swami Dayananda’s first lesson: ‘Saying is only an expression of what you see,’ Gurukulam
is a rare invitation to look, listen, and experience a contemplative rhythm of life as old as the Bhagavad Gita and as new as present-day India.
JILLIAN ELIZABETH - Director/Producer
Jillian Elizabeth is an independent documentary producer and cinematographer. Her directorial debut, Gurukulam, reflects her growing interest in observational and experiential cinema. Collaborating as a co-producer and cinematographer on the documentary, Whatever It Takes, Jillian followed the changing landscape of urban education in New York City. A Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grantee, with major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Whatever It Takes aired nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens in March 2010. Jillian Elizabeth was also a creative producer of On Coal River, a documentary that tells the powerful story of a West Virginian community experiencing the harsh realities of modern coal mining. On Coal River premiered at AFI/SilverDocs, was nominated for a 2010 Gotham Award, and was screened at the MoMA in NYC. She has worked as a shooter for Academy award winning filmmaker, Alex Gibney, Gemini award winning filmmaker, Rosie Dransfeld, and award winning independent journalist, Amy Goodman.
NEIL DALAL - Director
Neil Dalal is Assistant Professor of South Asian Philosophy and Religious Thought at the University of Alberta. He holds an MA in East/West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and a Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin where he studied Indian philosophy, the history of Indian religions, and Sanskrit. He has spent over four years in India studying Advaita Vedānta, the philosophy of non-duality, with traditional scholars and monks. Dalal is the co-editor of Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics with Routledge Press, and currently writing a book analyzing the intersection of texts, contemplative practices, and religious experience in Advaita Vedānta.