Love always prevails. Don’t let your anger govern your soul. Always stay positive, caring and inclusive.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmanuel Itier.
Emmanuel Itier is a French director and producer based in the USA for the last 30 years. Following a successful career directing live-action features he embarked on a worldwide study of our Humanity and the Planet. 15 years after he just completed a Doc series of 5 features exploring major concepts: God, Women, Health, Economics & Politics and War & Peace. These tools for Humanity are widely available on the net in the USA and Canada. These titles are: “The Invocation”, “Femme: Women Healing the World”, “The Cure”, “We The People” and the newly released: “Guns, Bombs and War: A Love Story”.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
From an early age, I was lucky to travel with my parents around the World. My dad was a doctor in the French navy and my mother a history-geography teacher. I spent time in France, in New Caledonia (near Australia) and then I moved in the USA some 30 years ago after meeting a flight attendant on a TWA airplane! At first, I became a journalist for various French magazines and tv shows. From there I started to direct several live-action features. But, because I was also involved with organizations such as the Lions Club and then the Rotary Club I developed a Humanitarian thirst to help others. I realized that Documentaries were the political platform of a director. Following the birth of my first son, Felix, 16 years ago I directed my first Doc feature: ‘The Invocation’, an exploration of the notion of God around the World and through science, religion and spirituality. 16 years after I have directed 7 feature docs and I’m currently filming two more: ‘H2O: The Intelligence of Water’ and ‘Run For Office’ a self-portrait about my attempt at running for President of France in 2022.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
When you film around the World is a micro or sometimes no-budget you expose yourself to all types of dangers. I think I stopped counting the number of times my cameraman and myself almost lost our lives. This was the “joke” so many times and how we said we tricked the devil and death. For example, we went to Israel (one of our 4 or 5 times) and I remember driving on a very desolate road and asking our driver why he was sweating and looking around frantically. Finally, he confessed we were on a very unsafe way to occupied territories and that there was a chance we could be shot at by snipers from the surrounding rocky mountains. Needless to say, I immediately flattened myself on the floor of the car, called my wife, and hoped for the best. Since I’m writing these lines I guess I’m not seating on the right side of God in the skies above! Ha ha! Another crazy ride was in India when I made the mistake of wanting to do some sightseeing and take a 20 hour plus car ride to go and meet with the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. Of course, I had no idea about the unsafety of the roads in India, if we can call most of those: roads. The various animals such as elephant or cows randomly jumping in front of our car, the monsoons which at time gave the impression to be in a submarine about to be buried under the seas, etc. Same thing, I stopped counting the number of times we could have departed for the heavens. These moments bring you back on earth and make you very humble. These moments make you realize we are really very fragile souls facing the chaos of life and the unpredictable fate ahead of us.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
A true inspiration for the Docs I have directed is the peace activist and maverick actress Sharon Stone. I had “heard” her voice in my head to be the narrator of our first film, “The Invocation” and by six degrees of separation, I was very lucky to be able to meet her. It took me over a year and several editing of our first documentary to convince her to come on board. We kept our collaboration going over the last 15 years and she appears in most of our films. She also became a real friend and an inspiration as well as the godmother of my 3 sons: Felix, Max and Rex. Thanks to her I grew up as a man and as a director and I feel I gained a greater sensibility and focus to keep healing the world through our endeavors. Another mesmerizing encounter was in South Africa when we went to interview Archbishop and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu. He is a “giant” of humanity and he thought of apartheid side by side with Nelson Mandala. At the same time, he is so humble and has a disarming sense of humor. I will always remember one of his answer about “God” saying: “I never understood why some people fight in the name of God…as I God needs human beings to defend himself!”. Such a bright intelligence full of compassion and Love.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I never stop coming up with new ideas for films and documentaries as we just need to open our eyes, look around us and on the net, to realize we are One planet with 8 billion geniuses with so many rich stories waiting to be told. Right now, I’m mainly focusing on two new documentaries:
-H2O: The Intelligence of Water. Since we are made of 70% of water and so is our planet, I’m wondering what type of “relationship” exist between us, the world and water. Could water be an agent of Peace?
-RUN FOR OFFICE: a documentary about my political campaign to attempt the impossible: run as a Presidential candidate for the next French elections in April 2022. I love to challenge the notion of “impossible” and find out what comes next. Will I fail miserably but still come out of it with an enriched existence. Or will some funny and strange miracle occur? Rendezvous in April 2022 in Paris! Join me!
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
From the first caveman who invented fire and the wheel to Jesus Christ who rebelled against the establishment to Gandhi and Martin Luther King who thought for injustice. From Jane of Arc who follow her vision and did the impossible to Mother Theresa who surrendered her soul and life to others to Melinda Gates and Arianna Huffington (who I met with humbleness) who keep healing the World, one mind, one soul at a time. I never stop being inspired by the endless army of Peace warriors leading the change we so dearly need for our World. I just hope, in my own way, I can also participate to the liberation of the mind and help building a more sustainable planet full of Peace and Love.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
Beyond being part of several humanitarian organizations such as The Rotary Club (I’m the founding president of www.RotaryEclubofWorldPeace.org ), the U.N Association (I’m part of the Santa Barbara chapter) and other NGOs such as www.DarfurWomenAction.org ; I just launched a political movement in France to run for President in 2022: www.LaVictoireFrancaise.net (English version downloadable at the bottom of the home page). I think that “running for office”, whatever your office is, whether it be a chess club, a church, a school, or an official governmental office is the ultimate “peace in action” for the transformative soul that we all are deep within. We just need to dare to talk, to rise, to thrive and become that force that will build a better tomorrow four our kids and ourselves.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
The haha moment happened in my early 40’s (I’m now 55) as I was about to embark on filming my Doc series of enlightened films. I was driving to L.A in my little old BMW convertible (I drove her to the ground with over 300,000 miles!) and at one point I remembered the inner frustration of not being able to totally express my political voice through my films. Suddenly I looked up in the skies and I yelled the four letters word to the Universe. Immediately I had like a download of what became “The Invocation”. I realized I had a problem with “God” and whatever that is. I needed to study and explore that notion and turn it into an investigative documentary. Voilà, 3 years after I had my first film released all over the US and Canada, even in a very limited theatrical run. You really need to dare to challenge your mind and your soul to find the true you, the authentic you. Then you have to work hard at defining better what you want to achieve and fight for it. You can never give up and never compromise too much with your passion, with what you’re made for, or you will end up with a mid-life crisis and possibly a hearth attack! Not worth it!
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I don’t anyone, yet, who had a huge awakening based on my work. This would be very humbling. But I can tell you that after meeting thousands of people around the World they always tell me how inspired they are and about to change their life and create an impact in this world. I just can hope that when I die, with a smile, I will have done everything I can to awaken the “power” within each of us to create a more beautiful planet full of more love, more peace!
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
1. wake up!
2. look around 360 degrees
3. stalk talking and become: Peace in Action!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Life is an “asshole”. Usually people say “life is a bitch” but that is a very macho saying. I really think that life is painful because so many little men are trying to pretend they are “Big Man”. This is very annoying and a waste of time. Yes, life is an asshole! LOL!
2. You need to have an answer to any question met. Even if you’re not sure you’re right, act in good faith and always try to figure it out. Don’t consider “NO, It’s impossible” as a possibility.
3. Remember that “what you know is that you don’t know anything”. Life is perpetual chaos in progress. Don’t worry if you don’t know everything, just improvise and move forward.
4. It’s all about teamwork. There is a saying in Africa: “I Am because We Are”. Indeed, the notions of “me, myself, and I” and “every man (woman) is an island” are a charlatan’s statement. We are all connected and interdependent. United we stand, un-united we fail.
5. Love always prevails. Don’t let your anger govern your soul. Always stay positive, caring and inclusive.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Becoming Peace in Action and having a positive impact on society is not an option, it’s your duty. If you fail, we fail and if we fail this is the end of Humanity, sooner than later. Wake up, unite and be the change you want to see in the world, right here, right now.
We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I’d love to collaborate with Obama, Oprah, Bono, The Pope. I think we share the same vision about uniting the World and building a sustainable future where “Peace and Love” is not just a dream but becomes a reality. In Oneness we shall heal the World.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You cannot kill what cannot die,” has always been my biggest self-revelation. Everytime I have been done, broke, in tears, somewhat, somehow there has been always something new coming my way to save my “sorry ass”. I truly believe our energy is immortal. Einstein talked about “nothing is created, nothing is ended, everything is transformed”. I have learned to trust in existence, in Life. The word trust in Latin is “Fidere” which gave “Faith”. Indeed, we need to find the faith within and without to live forever and trick the illusion of death.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!