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Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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What is God? Peter Rodger Asks the World

 Peter Rodger introduced his film Oh My God at the Mill Valley Film Festival.   "I was challenged to make this film because I was frustrated by the childish schoolyard mentality that permeates our world...People blowing up buildings while saying ‘God is Good.'"

 Rodger's film consists of him travelling around the world with a camera asking people the question: "What is God?"

 The film gives us many, many different answers from all kinds of people. 

  "God is everything."

Some celebrities weigh in too.  Hugh Jackman says. "It's really interesting to make a documentary asking people What is God because I don't think it's explainable."

Rodger includes himself in the film too.  "My experience is that people believe what they're told because they're scared not to believe what they're told."

"When I think of God I think he has created one race, and that race is the human race."

 David Copperfield says, "It's amazing I still believe in an ultimate creator-with the knowledge I have about being able to do biblical things- things that someone like I have the power to do."

 Rodger asks, "If God really does exist, how come he allows so much suffering in the world?"

 "The greatest enemy of the mind is the ego.  God saves man from the ego."

 "I feel like the people are taken advantage of by the power-intoxicated people."

 Halfway through the film Rodger is anxious.  He is having second thoughts about his documentary.  People are sensitive. "What is God?" is an upsetting question for many.  He has a lot of nerve to go and ask people this, he thinks to himself.

 He keeps asking and becomes inspired again by powerful answers. Perhaps God has something to do with the excitement of the unknown.  It's why so many people's lives are governed by the search for something greater than the sum of their parts.  We cannot be happy with the mundane. 

 "God is the one who sees after life and death," says one little girl.

 "There are four reasons people believe in God," explains one man.  "1-We're not sure how we got here.  2-Good deeds buy you a place in heaven.  3-God is the giver of eternal life- fear of death.  And 4-It's God's will when things go wrong- God is the scapegoat."

 Rodger journeys over to Japan.  "What is God? The essence of nature.  That is all," says one.

 "The power generated when humans congregate is undeniable...Maybe it [God] comes from collective action...Maybe all of us are God."

 "God is like drumming- what you put into it you get back."Says one Taiko drummer.

 "Religion is like a ladder.  You can use it to get on the roof but once you're on the roof you can give the ladder to someone else."

 "God is love."

"What matters is that he or she believes God is real.  It is their faith that counts." 

"One of the strongest ways we experience God is through other people."

"We create the world with our thoughts you know."

 Rodger came on stage after the screening for a Q&A.

Q: What surprised you?

A: The wonderful bond that humanity has for each other...The trick to life is that we don't have to push each other away...A lot of making the film was just letting go and seeing what people came to me.  After 3 months I put up a trailer online and a lot of people came to me after seeing that.  The celebrities came to me. 

Q: What answer spoke to you the most?

A: That God is glue- it's what binds us all together.  The other thing that really stuck with me after making this film is that we're already in Paradise- so we better make the best of it. 

Q: How long did the film take from start to finish?

A: 3 years from start to finish.  When I first started making it my camera was stolen and I lost $150,000.  I thought someone was trying to tell me not to make this film.  Then I realized I was wrong- someone was trying to tell me to have the courage to make this film

Q: How come there are very few women in your film?

A: This answer will sound wrong but it's true.  The women I interviewed often didn't say anything controversial or bold.  They all said agreeable nice, things that when it came down to editing got cut. 

Q: How did you decide what answers to put in your film?

A: I could have spent a lot more time on the dark side.  But I was more surprised at the bright side. 

 

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About Elisabeth

Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

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