Review by Festival Daily 20 Sep 2009
Review: Festival Daily
Noted for his quirky 1997 documentary TREKKIES, director Roger Nygard has taken his open-minded attitude and aptitude for locating incredible/insane people, and applied it to answering the big question: “Why do we exist?” Religion is possibly the touchiest subject available, but Nygard handles it with even-handed finesse. Traveling across the globe asking the same set of 85 questions to a swathe of people: a taxi driver, a Hindu Sadhu, a Freudian psychologist, a Christian wrestler, a Satanic high priest, and a 7th grader; all are given the same respect and space to say their piece. The film doesn’t delve far into the details of individual religions; instead the majority of answers create an uplifting sense that all humans are fundamentally similar in their desire for peace and happiness. Scientists are interspersed throughout to even the balance, and there are very few moments of narrow-mindedness from believers or atheists to rile you up. Nygard doesn’t usually press interviewees to defend what they say, so answers can at times seem fairly superficial. However his non-aggressive approach encourages honest answers; the juxtaposition of opinions allows the audience to judge for themselves. By locating beliefs in their geographical origins the link between culture and faith is exposed, and the beauty of the landscape and architecture is just as compelling as the views expressed in them. While THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE may not provide the meaning of life, it certainly recalls the joy of it.