This film was shot and edited after the style of the great filmmaker Robert Flaherty. This means, among other things, I allowed my subject to speak at length on camera, several hours a day, over 3 weeks, with sparse direction from me, thus freeing him to be himself on camera. This is a notable aspect of the film.
The "documentary" is a portrait of Thomas Merton's close friend and confessor, the legendary Father Matthew Kelty. We became friends in 1996 and maintained a close communion until his his death in February of 2011 at 95.
He and I labored on this film for over 6 years. The abbot of the renowned (Cistercian) Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown KY, Fr. Damien Thompson, allowed us full reign. As he said to me early on, "Anything Father Matthew wants is fine with me." The film was shot completely on location, including a long chat by the fireplace in Merton's hermitage.
I also received enormous help and support from the Robert and Frances Flaherty Film Study Center in Claremont, CA. Executive Director Dr. Jack Coogan was a stalwart film guide and mentor throughout the project.
I also mention with great appreciation the credits the music of my amazing friend, Joel Harper, of the Claremont Folk Music Center in Claremont CA. He put down so much gorgeous instrumental music. Joel "got" the film and composed, performed and recorded all this brilliant and inspired music as he watched the raw footage.
Father Matthew and I decided not to compete with other videos being sold for profit. I made about 200 of these and we gave them away to friends and family. Now, we share it with the world.
Father Matthew was a man "in touch with the deeps" as he used to say.
Thus this is a film on many levels. Perhaps mildly interesting as documentary, it also presents to one who takes the time to watch and listen, a powerful presentation of the "dazzling darkness" of Spirit.
Father Matthew's spirit, I suggest, is as much alive as it was when we made the film.
This Lone Brightness attempts a subtle painting of a remarkable human being. A true work of love.
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