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INDEPENDENT LENS: Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness

 Psilocybin study scanner
Courtesy of Eric Black
Psilocybin study scanner

Monday, April 25, 2022 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV / On demand with PBS Video App

Filmmakers Frauke Sandig and Eric Black explore six radically different perspectives on consciousness in their documentary “AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness.” Through expert perspectives spanning high-tech brain research, Eastern Meditation, the use of psychedelic substances, and the consciousness of plants, Sandig and Black evoke existential mysteries at the core of the human experience, ultimately encouraging viewers to review their long-held beliefs and assumptions, and initiate their own journey into consciousness.

Lauded by the Los Angeles Times as “mindful” and “consciousness-elevating food for thought,” and garnering a 100 percent “Certified Fresh” score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, “AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness” makes its television debut on PBS’s INDEPENDENT LENS on April 25, 2022.

Trailer | AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness

The film features six expert researchers studying the existence of consciousness and how to achieve it from radically different perspectives. Sandig and Black speak with: Christof Koch, renowned neuroscientist and head of the Allen Institute for Brain Science; Matthieu Ricard, a former molecular biologist and current Tibetan-Buddhist monk; Roland Griffiths, neuroscience professor and director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University; Philosophy Professor Richard Boothby; Monica Gagliano, scientist, professor and researcher; and Mayan healer Josefa Kirvin Kulix.

Each expert brings distinctly different but relevant findings to the film and provides compelling, fascinating new insights on inner awareness. For instance, Koch has come to openly question whether material science can find the origins of consciousness and has begun to ask if consciousness could be in all things — the fundamental essence of the universe. Ricard maintains we cannot approach consciousness from the outside, but only from the inside,

Through meditation. Griffiths is systematically investigating prohibited psychoactive substances used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years to heighten awareness and cure illness. Gagliano is making the empirical case in her lab that plants hear, see, communicate, learn, remember, and feel pain. Along with a look into each researcher's work, Sandig and Black weave in contemplative, sprawling visuals reminiscent of cinematographic meditation throughout the film.

Film Awards:

“AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness” has been deep in the festival circuit over the last year, winning the Feature Competition Jury Prize at the 2021 Illuminate Film Festival, the Online Audience Award for Poland’s Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival, and the Create the Future Award at the 2021 Maui Film Festival Audience Awards. In addition, the film was shortlisted for the German Film Awards, the country's top prize in film. The fourth collaboration between Sandig and Black, the documentary is the second film in their trilogy, “Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth.”


Watch On Your Schedule:

The film will be simultaneously on demand at the time of broadcast with the PBS Video App, you can watch your favorite and local station shows. Download it for free on your favorite device. The app allows you to catch up on recent episodes and discover award-winning shows.

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Written, Produced, and Directed by Frauke Sandig and Eric Black. Director of Photography: Eric Black. Dramaturgy: Frauke Sandig. Editors: Franziska von Berlepsch. Rune Schweitzer.