UPLIFTING FILMS is a spiritual, but nonreligious evaluation, of both main stream and independent films. It can be thought of as a guide to mind nutrition for film viewers. We recommend movies that have a positive vision of life, leave you feeling good and contain little or no gratuitous violence, exploitative sex or other types of negative imagery. We talk about films that delight, inspire, educate and enlighten. We are primarly for postive films, not against negative ones. Our reviews come from the heart as well as the intellect, our criteria are compassion and love. The concept that films affect people's psyches and behavior should be as self evident as the knowledge that food effects one's health. More and more people today are very concerned with their quality of life. They go to great lengths to make their food, water, and environment as poison free as possible. Medical studies have shown that watching a negative film impairs the immune system, while a positive one enhances it. Watching one of our recommended uplifting films is like having a nourishing meal for the spirit!

We look for positive role models, important messages, humor, positive women's or children's points of view. Political films are included but we warn viewers if there is disturbing content. Occasionally we find an action adventure film that we recommend. We are not advocates of censorship, for example we have no objection to loving sexuality on screen, but we do note its presence out of respect for those who want to avoid it. We hope that by supporting positive films, more will be made and their prominence in the fabric of society expanded.



(1990)—Directed by Woody Allen, with Mia Farrow, Alec Baldwin, Blythe Danner, Judy Davis, William Hurt, Julie Kavner, Keye Luke,Joe Mantegna, Bernadette Peters, Clybill Shepherd; James Toback, Gwen Verdon.

Mia Farrow stars in Woody Allen's film about a rich housewife who is no longer content to shop til you drop and gets involved with Chinese mysticism and herbs. Through this she discovers romance, spirituality and it changes her life in a positive way. Totally charming as well as spiritually illuminating, this is one of Allen's best films, very funny but not wacky.

(1995) Directed by Chris Noonan, with James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski.
This is a rare an unusual film, equally charming and enjoyable for both adults and children, it contains many positive things in a really delightful way. It personifies innocence in the form of a young pig, who is the heroine of the film. This is not an animated film; the cinematography is of real places and real animals. Animatronics are used to simulate animal action scenes. But you don't notice it at all. It all looks real.

Animals talk lovingly and intelligently to one another. Kids can get a good sense of being connected to animals from this film. If you want to persuade your child to be a vegetarian, this film will help.

The film shows that love and communication are more powerful in getting what you want than violence and intimidation, that you should believe in your ideas, even if no one else does, and has lots of other positive messages for kids and adults alike.

Unlike most other contemporary children's films which emphasize fear, violence and fighting as central plot devices, this is a truly gentle film. The entire experience is soothing. The soundtrack is mellow and the voices loving, even those of the "mean" animals. Often in a children's film we are taken aback by the harsh and shrill sounds of the musical score, but not here. Enjoy this with your kids. It will enchant you. We feel it was one of the top films of '95, and the 'Best Film' Academy Award for which it was nominated (but did not win) would have been justified.

(1995)—Directed by John Boorman, with Patricia Arquette, Frances Dormand, Spalding Grey.

Beyond Rangoon is amazing on several levels. Taken simply as an action adventure film with a wonderful woman heroine, superbly acted by Patricia Arquette, it keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense as well as admiration for this woman. A riveting political story based on dictatorship, oppression and horror in present day Burma, this film communicates the realities—the feeling—of events we read lightly about in news reports which speak of dictators and third world oppression. After seeing this film, many will never read such a news account as lightly again.

This is a film that should be seen by every student—high school age and above, so we will all understand how important it is to vote for politicians who say "NO" to these types of illegal governments, rather than playing along with them for whatever political favors we might seem to be getting. A truly inspiring film.

As a film which makes an important political statement, it does contain violence, pain and bloody (on the verge of gore) scenes, so if you can't tolerate this type of material on screen, it is not for you. We managed to get through these parts because the message was one of hope, love and truth.

Even if uninterested in politics, you will be captivated by this visually beautiful, philosophical story of the courage of a young woman doctor who overcomes her own grief and helps an older professor to survive. The mentor/student relationship between the two characters is totally wonderful as they help each other to heal.

Beyond Rangoon is as good as the Academy Award winning film 'The Killing Fields" which highlights the atrocities of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.

(1990)—Directed by James Lapine, with Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinken, Bernadette Peters.

Historical drama with comedy, romance and classical music. Highly inspirational for women who dare to be different. A film about George Sand, an extremely independent woman writer of the nineteenth century who does not let the mediocrity, pettiness and hypocrisy of ordinary life stop her from being a sincere, loving, creative, intelligent, unique and strong spirited woman.

Part of this film is about the romance between Frederick Chopin and George Sands, who often wore stylish men's clothes and took a male nom de plume in order to be published. Nineteenth century England is the setting for this more than a love story. Also gives us an accurate portrait of the vicissitudes of an artist's life.

(1995)—Directed by Paul Hogan, with Toni Collette.
Another good film from Australia. A young woman, trying not to be as dysfunctional as her other family members, dreams constantly of marriage and being a desirable woman. A very funny and unique approach that displays many hypocrisies in people and society that might lead a young woman to feelings of inadequacy. There is sadness, suicide, illness, death and pathos in this film, but it is not the main focus. This film is about coming of age, finding yourself and keeping your integrity in the process. Holding out for true love and friendship, taking care of your responsibilities and being true to yourself are the treasures of this film.

Diana Oestreich and Elliott Landy are a husband and wife team with a lifelong passion for film and spirituality. Uplifting Films is their creation.

Diana Oestreich has developed firm projects for many actors, directors and studios including Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount, HBO and CBS. She has developed projects with Barbara Streisand, Christopher Reeve and Goldie Hawn and is currently developing a feature film which focuses on Zen Buddhism.

Elliott Bandy is a well known photographer whose images of Woodstock, Dylan, the Band, and the sixties music scene are known worldwide. He has published and packaged several books and co-created a CD ROM with Time Warner about the 1969 Woodstock Festival, has developed a CD ROM of his book Woodstock Vision, The Spirit of A Generation, which will be released by Panasonic Software in the near future. Landy Vision, Inc., P.O.B. 836, Woodstock, NY 12498.

Take a look at Uplifting Films on the Internet.

Return to the July/August Index Page