Hearts Broken Open explores the miracle and mystery of resilience, our capacity not simply to recover from misfortune but to grow larger and deeper for having transformed it into an opportunity and a gift. Hearts explores resilience in three dimensions – our personal and emotional lives, community and society, and nature. We explore these dimensions through several lenses -- in true stories using varied combinations of audio, video, still photography, and written text that employ both cutting-edge media and traditional techniques. We conduct in-depth conversations with scientific researchers probing human brain chemistry and psychologists who’ve studied how we can learn to become and remain resilient in the face of adversity. We share our own insights into what makes for resilience and well-being regardless of one’s circumstances. And we invite your story leads (and in a later phase of this venture your stories) about the hidden gems you’ve found – individuals, groups or communities you’ve discovered who demonstrate a playful and passionate love of life in the midst of its inevitable heartbreaks. We’re looking for those who, when their hearts break, don’t break down but through, who learn to breathe into the cracks and open still wider.
In an age of anger, cynicism and despair, reviving our capacity for resilience and honoring its spirit in those who demonstrate it even in the most challenging circumstances is essential to our survival and well-being. What the media tell us about ourselves is only half the story. Gazing in its brutally distorting mirror we cease believing in our more positive qualities. We stop noticing our everyday heroism, the not so random acts of kindness and generosity we demonstrate in both natural disasters and human tragedies. Hearts seeks to strike a better balance not by denying the injustices and iniquities of which some of us are capable but by affirming our capacity to live good lives, redeem ourselves, and treat one another well even in hard times. Hearts celebrates "the better angels of our nature."
Just north of Berkeley, California beside San Francisco Bay, a former construction trash landfill site has been left undeveloped for more than thirty years. During that time, homeless people from the region gradually built a community from wood scraps, re-bar, scrap metal and other discarded construction materials. Together with local artists, they painted slabs of former sidewalks in brilliantly colored graffiti. Freelance sculptors assembled larger-than-life sculptures of exceptional originality and eloquence. Set against stunning views of the San Francisco skyline and Marin headlands, they evoke powerful emotions of exhilaration, triumph and resilience. They're all the more potent for being made from the debris of our collective waste stream. The City of Albany is now returning the site to the East Bay Regional Parks. The homeless community has been dispersed and many of the most vivid graffiti have been buried to create a more "natural" park-like appearance. Local residents who have always treasured the unique blend of wild nature and unfettered art found in the Bulb have organized to save the uniquely compelling public art that has been created over the past few decades. This film reveals the spontaneous genius of a kind of outdoor museum of modern art that is in some ways more original and intriguing than much of what hangs in our most highly esteemed galleries.