Filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world, the documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.
AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.
Archival material from the life of Yogananda (who died in 1952) creates a spine for the narrative, but the film stretches the dimensions of a standard biography. The footage includes stylized interviews, metaphoric imagery and recreations, taking us from holy pilgrimages in India to Harvard’s Divinity School and its cutting-edge physics labs, from the Center for Science and Spirituality at the University of Pennsylvania to the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. By evoking the journey of the soul as it pushes its way through the oppression of the human ego and delusion of the material world, the film creates an experiential immersion into the unseen realms. AWAKE is ultimately the story of humanity itself: the universal struggle of all beings to free themselves from suffering and to seek lasting happiness.
“Compelling… enough to make a modern soul look inwards.“ - THE NEW YORK TIMES
“dreamy, entrancing…and while such material can be hard to pull off, directors Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman are masters of atmospherics.“ - THE WASHINGTON POST
“Awake is an absolute treasure and should not only be watched, but experienced.“ THE MOVIE NETWORK
"Enlightening! Fascinating! Profound! It will nourish your heart, mind and soul!" - NYC MOVIE GURU
"Yogananda was truly one of the great spiritual masters. He shone a light that continues to bless millions of us living on earth today." - MARIANNE WILLIAMSON
“…engrossing and informative from start to finish.“ THE VILLAGE VOICE
“…a mesmerizing film about a very special being.“ ALICE WALKER
“A beautifully crafted film and a powerful story about a spiritual genius.“ RUSSELL SIMMONS
“Epic and timeless…“ LA YOGA
“The film tapped into Yogananda’s humanity in a way that was profoundly moving and inspiring to me.“ RAM DASS
“A fascinating and educational experience. Ultimately, Awake: The Life of Yogananda carries its audience through the history of yoga and provides access to the beginnings of a yogic understanding of life.” - SOPHIA HARVEY, STAGE BUDDY
"Awake: The Life of Yogananda is a stunning vision, statement, and experience all at once. ...You might see scientists and musicians, yoga teachers and professors, and the guru Yogananda himself on the screen, but what you really feel is the world shaking you out of thought, stupor, fear and pride and saying, simply, be as you are." - VAMSEE JULURI, USF PROFESSOR
"It's the best movie I've ever seen." - DAVID FRAWLEY, VEDIC SCHOLAR