Mother Sela - Artist and Buddhist Nun| 1hr : 03mins
Director: Svetlana Darsalia | Producer: Darsalia and Three Point Landing Production
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: United States
MOTHER SELA is a portrait of Seta Manoukian, a Lebanese artist who was active during the cultural heyday of Beirut, once known as the Paris of the East. She lived to witness the city's subsequent destruction during years of the Lebanese Civil War. Manoukian, a celebrated painter, was one of the illuminati who shone during an explosion of artistic exploration that spread through the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon. Her oeuvre reflects the joy of a nation coming into self-awareness and provides a poignant view into the psychological turmoil of the state of war. She felt as one with the people of Beirut and the city itself and, in her own words, in her paintings she paved the streets of Beirut with enlarged drawings of her own skin.
During the breakdown of civil institutions in Beirut from 1970-1980, Manoukian became a harbor for many children of impoverished backgrounds, helping them to process their trauma through art. She later published two books of children's war drawings. These books and a traveling exhibition, "War Through the Eyes of Children," became a powerful testimony of the atrocities of war seen through the innocence of children.
This documentary is a story about the convergences of war, art and spirituality through the insight of an artist who sought a transcendent vision from an early age. Through the series of interviews with Seta, we see how she matured as an artist and thinker. Seta's quest for spirituality eventually brings her to Sri Lanka, where she becomes a Buddhist nun, dedicating her time to meditation and Dhamma studies. Through meditation and circumstances beyond her control Seta goes trough a complete metamorphosis: the "self" observes the "self, as artist in relationship to the world," the "self observes self in relationship to the self," "the self empties itself of worldly trappings," ultimately the self becomes one with everything and nothing.