Original Thinkers: Films, Discussions, Special Guests for 2022 Festival!

Original Thinkers: Films, Discussions, Special Guests for 2022 Festival!

Telluride-based Original Thinkers (OT) is a media company that curates creative, fresh, and thought-provoking programming to shines a spotlight on a host of new voices, artists, thinkers, storytellers and visionaries. The festival invites audiences on a transformative journey to think deeply, see possibility, and embrace big ideas.

Special Guests at the 5th Annual Event include political blogger Dasha Navalny; presidential advisor Vishaka N. Desai; members of The Jane Collective; Author Florence Williams; and filmmakers Ross Kauffmann, Tia Lessen, Emma Pildes, plus more

Beyond films and discussions, Original Thinkers provides rejuvenating opportunities for connection to nature, unique wellness sessions and invaluable community building.

Buy your pass now.

Go here for more on Original Thinkers.

Original Thinkers announced today the films, discussions and special guests set to connect a global community of change-makers on September 29 – October 2, 2022 in Telluride, CO. The four-day festival will explore topics including reproductive rights, geopolitics and the fight for democracy, advancements in cancer treatment, life-saving mindfulness, the healing power of nature and many other timely issues afflicting modern society. In addition to the festival’s multimedia exploration of the world through stories, performance, and fresh thinking, Original Thinker’s offers attendees a full experiential weekend with wellness activities, special events and community gatherings.

Passes are on sale now for this unique ideas festival, now celebrating its fifth year of forging a global community of artists and activists. A full schedule of events, performances and free community screenings will be released in August.

OT Founder and Festival Director David Holbrooke, said:

“The world has changed dramatically since our first gathering in 2018 and we want to make sure our program helps attendees understand, process, and navigate this complicated landscape. The discussions sparked from the films and events at Original Thinkers are designed to inspire, edify and motivate our community to build a world that works for everyone.”

OT President Meredith Lavitt said:

“This year the festival line-up explores topics that we desperately need to be discussing as a society, from reproductive rights, finding new treatments for cancer to disrupting broken systems. I look forward to exploring these big ideas in the intimate setting of the festival knowing that the relationships built and new ideas shaped will continue to bloom well after we wrap.”

OT Program Director Laura Shaunette, said:

“Telluride is such a special and inspiring natural venue for the one-of-a-kind experiences this festival offers. From guided hikes to tea ceremonies, to conversations on a mountain, our audience is sure to leave empowered and energized to take new ideas into the world.”

OT offers a variety of 2022 festival experiences from one show admittance to an all-access pass which are on sale now. The Big Idea Pass ($300) allows attendees to attend all the weekend shows, OT Spotlights, and other activities while the Eureka Pass ($2500) provides some private patron events and supports Original Thinkers’ year-round mission. The Student & Educator Pass ($150) allows high school and college students and teachers to access all shows and OT spotlights and individual tickets to single events are $30 the day of the event.

Special guests attending Original Thinkers include:

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo is a leading voice internationally on climate change and how it intersects with our mental health and ecological grief. She is a regular contributor to media and policy and is the editor of Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Grief and Loss. Cunsolo is a passionate researcher and environmental advocate, working with Indigenous communities and leaders across Canada to further understand and advocate for policy changes that must be implemented to improve how climate change impacts physical and mental health, among countless other initiatives.

Brit Barron is a pastor and author of the book Worth It: Overcome Your Fears and Embrace the Life You Were Meant For, which is about her journey from being raised in a conservative church setting, becoming a pastor of a megachurch at age 26 and then leaving it all to find her truth when she came out, married her wife and built a new life.

Dr. Carl June is a renowned immunologist and oncologist, currently serving as a Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. After losing his first wife to cancer, he has dedicated his career to finding a cure to this scourge, spearheading innovative research and discovering breakthrough treatment via cellular immunotherapies. He is a featured subject in the film, Of Medicine and Miracles.

Dasha Navalny is a psychology student at Stanford, political blogger and YouTuber. She is the daughter of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who survived an assassination attempt by the Russian government who is currently imprisoned in a maximum-security penal colony. Her family’s harrowing story is told in the film, Navalny.

Emma Pildes has a personal connection to the Janes as both her father and brothers figure into the plot of the film. She is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, making her directorial debut with The Janes. She has an extensive background and boundless love for non-fiction storytelling.

Florence Williams is an avid researcher and is wonderfully curious about the world around her. Her renowned book, “The Nature Fix,” looked at the healing power of nature and now she has taken all her skills to focus on grief. Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey tells her own story about how her husband left her unexpectedly. She decided to process her pain by diving into how heartbreak and grief actually manifest in our lives and bodies. The physicality of loss is real, but there are also ways to heal ourselves through finding awe in this world.

Hannah Sharghi lives in Washington, DC and is working relentlessly to bring her father home from Iran where he is being held captive by the regime. Her family’s story is depicted in the film, Bring Them Home.

The Janes – These women were young and bold fifty years ago when they were hard at work providing safe abortions for women in the Chicago area. Now, they are less young but just as bold as they offer lessons from their own lives for the next generation of activists who will work to save lives in an unjust society.

Kate Woodsome is an editor at The Washington Post and a producer of “Bring Them Home.” She also covered the January 6th insurrection, focusing on the dangers of encroaching authoritarianism and the consequential violence – something she saw up close at the Capitol on that horrible historic day.

Laura Waters Hinson is an award-winning filmmaker who serves as the director of the Community Voice Lab in Washington, DC. Her films focus on personal journeys, exploring themes of reconciliation, human resilience and entrepreneurship. She joins us as director of the short film Street Reporter, in which she steps outside into her own town to capture the power and purpose that community newspapers can offer to those experiencing homelessness.

Leah Podzimek is a freelance arts administrator, creative producer, and performer based in Denver, CO. She is also a trained operatic soprano, and will be performing with “Interplay”, an idea born out of conversation and a passion to bring the performance arts and fine arts together in connected and meaningful expression.

Ray Whitehouse is a filmmaker who has extensive experience sharing stories at the point where journalism meets documentary film. He was part of the Washington Post team that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for reporting about the Capitol insurrection and its aftermath. This year he comes to OT as co-director of the film Bring Them Home, which follows the family of Emad Sharghi, one of a growing number of Americans being held hostage by foreign governments.

Rabbi Irwin Kula is a seventh-generation rabbi who accurately self-identifies as a “disruptive spiritual innovator.” He currently serves as president The National Center for Learning and Leadership, a think-tank committed to making Jewish a Public Good. His ongoing work with spiritual leaders, businesses and organizations around the world inspires people to live with greater passion, purpose, creativity and compassion.

Raye Zaragoza returns to OT with a live performance and conversation about her work and what it means to make music as a Japanese-American, Mexican, Indigenous woman living in America. Her latest album Woman in Color explores how complicated this can be. “There is a part of [my family] that wants to be proud of who we are, but there’s a part that’s been pressured to fit in and assimilate.”

Robin Hauser is a filmmaker who works on issue-based films and directed the feature documentary $avvy about how important it is for women to have control over their finances. She has spoken on the TED and TEDx stage, at the White House, on Capital Hill, and worldwide on topics including ethical AI, diversity and inclusion, women empowerment and gender equality.

Sheila White works for the Street Sense newspaper that chronicles what life is like on the streets and has her own compelling journey of working to change her life situation.

Tia Lessin is an Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker who finds important stories in America that have historically gone untold. She joins us this year as co-director of The Janes, sharing an ever-pertinent lens around women’s resistance in the name of physical autonomy.

Tom Voss is an Iraq war veteran and founder of Ojai Earth. After seeing extensive combat during the Iraq War from 2003-2006, Tom Voss struggled to navigate life back home and was diagnosed with PTSD. Frustrated by the inadequate treatment offered by the VA, he embarked in 2013 on a 2700 mile walk from Milwaukee to Los Angeles in pursuit of his own healing (as seen in the documentary, Almost Sunrise). His cooperative nonprofit, Ojai Earth, focuses on regenerating people and the planet through holistic practices, particularly the power of mindfulness. His compassionate and educated lens offers some real solace to those who have experienced trauma in their military service and extends that to all people who participate in his practice.

Tuany Nascimento started a dance company for you girls at age 23 in the heart of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas. She continues to work to give these young women a creative outlet, so that they might have a better future as well as a safe space from the violent world that surrounds them. The story is documented in the short film Na Ponta dos Pés.

Vishaka N. Desai is the author of “World As Family,: a memoir about why living a global life is more important than ever. She ran The Asia Society and is now at Columbia University as a senior adviser to the President on global issues.

Yanely Espinal is a character in the documentary $avvy and works to create a better financial situation for Latina women. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and is one of the first in her family to graduate college. She currently serves as the Director of Education Outreach for Next Gen Personal Finance and spends her spare time offering financial advice on her personal YouTube channel, MissBeHelpful.

Films set to screen at the 2022 Original Thinkers include:

“Bring Them Home” directed by Ray Whitehouse and Kate Woodsome

Americans Emad and Bahareh Sharghi never expected their family to be torn apart while visiting Iran, their country of birth. But when Iranian officials hold Emad hostage on bogus espionage charges, Bahareh and her daughters are forced into unlikely roles. They must navigate Iran’s authoritarian system and U.S. politics to try to free Emad from being a pawn in nuclear negotiations.

“The Janes” directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes

A daring and covert collective of women in the Chicago area were helping women in the late 1960’s and early ‘70s get safe but illegal abortions. They called themselves the Janes and fortunately, their services were never needed again after Roe v. Wade verdict in 1973. Until now.

“Na Ponta dos Pés (On Pointe)” directed by Tuany Nascimento

At 23 years old, Tuany Nascimento started a dance company for young girls in the middle of one of Rio De Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas. She gives students hope for a better future and a safe space away from the violent world around them.

“Navalny” directed by Daniel Roher

This gripping film unfolds like a real-life thriller, following Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his narrow survival of an assassination attempt via a lethal nerve agent. Navalny unveils the events leading up to that life-altering event, and shares the consequential impact on his activism and those around him. Despite a 9 year sentence in a maximum-security penal colony, his battle against authoritarianism is ongoing.

“Of Medicine and Miracles” directed by Ross Kauffman

Of Medicine and Miracles follows two intersecting stories, both connected to curing cancer. The audience finds itself up close with a desperate family, desperately needing some sort of treatment that will save the life of Emily Whitehouse, who was diagnosed with an incredibly aggressive kind of Leukemia at age 6. The other story follows Dr. Carl June and his colleagues as we learn about their own tumultuous and painfully personal journey of experimental research his team has relentlessly executed to find a new solution to this old disease. Tied together by Oscar-winning filmmaker Ross Kaufman (Born into Brothels, Tigerland, E-Team and more), this film is an unexpected emotional and scientific journey that will instill a range of emotions; from sadness to empathy to ultimately, hope.

“$avvy” directed by Robin Hauser

This informative and empowering film explores how and why our financial culture sidelines women, and tells a new story about women who are taking matters into their own hands. $avvy dives into the intersections of money and gender, while offering advice from experts in the field about our shared question: What can I do, right now, to be smarter with my money?

“Street Reporter” directed by Laura Waters Hinson

Sheila White, 58, dreams of becoming a photojournalist and escaping her life of homelessness. Yearning to make this change, she studies at a local university while completing homework late into the night at the women’s shelter. Street Reporter is a deeply intimate, character-based film produced with community collaborators that provides a window into the power of community journalism in one woman’s life, casting a vision of the re-humanizing effects of life’s most basic need: a place to call home.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.