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“A DEEPLY CINEMATIC, VISUAL ODYSSEY. FOR A FIRST FILM, DENSELY PACKED WITH IDEAS AND SO ASSURED IN ITS FILMMAKING AND EXPERIMENTATION ... KENSHO IS EXTRAORDINARY."
- MELISSA TAMMINGA, SEATTLE SCREEN SCENE
“A VISUALLY STUNNING, RAVISHING WORK.”
- TIRDAD DERAKHSHANI, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
“A BEAUTIFUL AND INTRIGUING MOVIE ... A WORK OF ART.”
- NANCY ABRAMS, THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
“THIS IS AN EXCEPTIONAL LOOKING FILM ... A SURPRISING BUT SOLID DEBUT BY SOMEONE I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HEAR A LOT MORE OF IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE. RAIDER IS A STAR IN THE MAKING, SURROUNDED BY GOOD ACTING."
- CARLOS DeVILLAVILLA, CINEMA 365
“RAIDER EXPERTLY TRANSLATES THE MODERN SPIRITUAL QUEST THROUGH FILM WITH HUMOR AND COMPLEXITY."
- LA YOGA MAGAZINE
KENSHO MOST RECENTLY SCREENED AT THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART IN NYC: JAN 6, 2017 AS THE INAUGURAL FILM OF THEIR BRAINWAVE: PERCEPTION SERIES
Mara Davi at Kensho's Rubin Screening
KENSHO'S FESTIVAL RUN WRAPPED WITH THE SANTA FE FILM FESTIVAL (DEC, 2016) AFTER BEST FEATURE WINS AT BOTH THE SPIRIT QUEST FILM FESTIVAL IN ERIE, PA (MAY, 2016) AND THE EQUALITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL IN SACRAMENTO (NOVEMBER, 2015)
THE FILM HAD ITS WORLD PREMIERE IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SEPT, 2015) WHERE IT RECEIVED THE NEW YORK SHOWCASE AWARD.
THE FILM'S WEST COAST PREMIERE WAS IN LOS ANGELES AT THE AWARENESS FILM FESTIVAL AT LA LIVE (SEPT, 2015)
KENSHO WAS PROUD TO BE ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF FILMS WORLDWIDE ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CONSCIOUS FILM CONVERGENCE MAY, 2015 IN SEDONA
More about the film:
Two-time Best Feature Film winner at six festivals, KENSHO is a visionary, existential drama and the extraordinary directorial debut of actor / director Brad Raider. The truly independent, micro-budget film is at the heart of the conscious-cinema movement and a proud partner of the International Rescue Committee, donating a percentage of net profits to their humanitarian efforts around the world.
KENSHO follows playwright turned doorman of The Bedfellow Hotel, Dan Bender (Raider), as he's reeling from the death of his little sister. In a sex-and-drug filled odyssey through the inner-connected, cultural phenomenon that is New York City, his desperate search for fulfillment reunites him with childhood love, Kate Darrow (Kaley Ronayne in a star-making performance), and ultimately, catalyzes a consciousness-expanding journey of hope and self-discovery.
KENSHO is an inspiring and intensely personal work that illuminates profound and universal questions about the nature of fulfillment, relationships, social conscience, sex, death, life purpose, and the role that self-reflection plays on the global stage.
A Japanese term from the Zen tradition, ken means "seeing" and shō means "nature” or “essence".
Kenshō is an awakening, the experience of seeing one's truest nature.
A hotel in the TriBeCa district of NYC.
DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT by Brad Raider
KENSHO draws upon questions and ideas gathered from years of exploration into the nature and expansion of consciousness, as well as the deep love and unity I share with my family.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF REALITY?
WHAT IS OUR HIGHEST PURPOSE IN LIFE?
HOW CAN WE LIVE FREE FROM SUFFERING?
Fascinated by how the collaborative arts can ask these questions, my intention as a filmmaker and theatre-artist has been to craft not only a fiercely entertaining story, but also a transformative film that has the potential to enliven the awareness of an audience.
My extraordinary cast and crew (many of whom share a practice of yoga and meditation) set out to make a socially-relevant and consciousness-based platform for expression.
Resonating deeply throughout my life and journey making the film, inspiration from my family catalyzed much of the film's narrative. Dan's inconsolable loss of his sister grew out of my own struggles with death and the fear of losing loved ones.
My mother's peace building work around the globe inspired Kate's journey with the International Rescue Committee. It was a trip to Africa with my mom (who was working for the UN at the time) that planted the first seeds of the IRC storyline. My brother and father were also immeasurably powerful forces as the film began to take shape and are rooted in the character of Mosi, who is both a brother and a father.
Unity amongst family, community, world, Universe and Self are at the heart of KENSHO. And NYC was a necessary backdrop for this -- an infinitely correlated, supremely creative, evolutionary, and awe-inspiring microcosm of the Universe, itself.
Dan Bender’s journey in the film is our collective one. His search for freedom and fulfillment is universal as we navigate an increasingly complicated (though not necessarily connected) world. Telling his and Kate's story expresses my resolve that motion pictures can uplift, inspire, and catalyze a profound examination of our human experience.
Influences for Kensho at the Bedfellow are vast and run the gamut from the magic realism and humor of Being John Malkovich to the emotional sucker-punch of Punch Drunk Love and Silver Linings Playbook. Spiritual elements in films like Waking Life, The Fountain and Tree of Life are also explored but specifically to the extent that they serve the story and the emotional journey of the characters. Visually, the hand-held aesthetics of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Zero Dark Thirty give Kensho an immediacy and verisimilitude essential to the film’s honesty.
During principle photography, New York was photographed in a desaturated palette of browns, greys, and light greens inherent and natural to New York during the Fall season. The ambient multi-colored light reflected in a city of glass provided much of the exterior night shoots of the film with a visual metaphor for Dan’s multi-faceted psyche and ultimate examination of his inner (and outer) states of consciousness.
Variable frame rates for slow motion and time lapse were also used for emotional resonance in key sequences of the film and pay homage to classics like Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.
The production made use of the RED Epic 5K High Definition camera, one of the industry’s leading choices for dynamic range, flexibility, and unrivaled cinematic imagery. Films recently shot on RED cameras include: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Contagion, The Great Gatsby, Margin Call, Winter’s Bone, The Social Network, District 9, Flight, and The Amazing Spiderman.
Design by Greg Feinberg