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A '$#*!' of a movie returns

The film starts out with the notion that there are infinite — possibilities, of which, you are one, making clear this movie is more — than entertainment.

But "What the Bleep Do We Know?" is entertainment nonetheless. — The film - which opens at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland Friday - has — been shown here before as part of the Ashland Independent Film Festival, — where it won the Best Documentary Award.

"I wanted it to be a theatrical film people would go to — on a Friday or Saturday night," said Will Arntz, one of the people who — wrote, produced and directed the movie.

Arntz graduated summa cum laude in 1972 from Penn State — University with a degree in Engineering Science and accepted employment — as a Research Physicist. He has developed software programs and made films. —

"I financed the whole thing," Arntz said. "No one in their — right mind would finance a film like this." But the team realized that — there needed to be films out there for people who are searching.

Judging from screenings so far, Arntz is having his wish — come true. During its six-week run in Portland, 30,000 people saw the — film. And people who like it generally go back to see it again.

"I think it's time for these kinds of films to be available — Friday nights," echoed Betsy Chase, another member of the creative team. —

Chase had been a Hollywood actor and film producer, when — she decided to leave film altogether. "I read the concept and it stunned — me," she recalled. "I didn't think I was a spiritual person. I thought — I was a very one-dimensional person. It changed my life. If it could do — this to me, imagine what it could do to others."

What the team discovered as they continued reworking through — 10 versions of the script, 20 major edits and 60 hours of interviews, — was a simple lesson contained in quantum physics. You actually have control — over your destiny.

"It really is that simple," Chase observed. "Your thoughts — create your reality. You don't need to be a physicist to get that. If — you take it on and live it, things happen."

The group decided to blend science, spirit, and film techniques: — documentary, animation, visual effects, music and a story line featuring — actor Marlee Matlin.

Team member Mark Vicente directed the photography. He — had been director of photography and cinematographer on a number of feature — films, and directed commercials and documentaries.

"The brain becomes very plastic with laughter and shock," — Vicente explained. The team decided their film would be humorous and even — over the top in some places. That way, he said, people become more open — to hearing more information and tend not to reject the new concepts being — presented.

"We realized we had to remove all the speed bumps," Arntz — said. "Once they backed out of the film, it's hard to get them back. It's — like composing music — you kind of know when It's getting tenuous."

Even though most of the people Arntz and his team interviewed — were Ph.D. scientists, there was always the danger of making a boring — documentary. Or when the subject matter got weird, it could start to sound — flaky. But people didn't turn off.

"People say there was always this inkling that this information — was out there, but we didn't know how to get it," Chase said. But the — information was often incomprehensible, overwhelming. Chase found that — the film made people feel like they could actually comprehend it. In the — midst of living in fear, they found it hopeful.

Chase is quick to point out that she and her colleagues — did not make the film to enlighten people. That's why they love the film's — title. They did it to tell people what they learned, what it did for them — and hope that audiences get something from it and talk about it.

"We're really not New Age love, light, gushing warm and — wonderful," Vicente said. He sees the film as a call to people to open — up, and a call to artists to touch people's souls. Because so much is — at stake, the art has to be good. It has to be brilliant. "People are — so attached to being victims, that we need a tyrant," Vicente said. "Someone — who says, I know how to enslave people, keep them enslaved and make money — off of them. We're attached to a story about ourselves as helpless beings."

To counter this, Vicente feels that spiritual people need — to be strong instead of always trying to be nice, loving etc. They need — to stand up — be hated even for their beliefs. "What We're saying is look — at yourself, laugh at yourself, embrace yourself. Here's information that — can help you."

The creative team of Arntz, Chase and Vicente has been — accompanying their film to film festivals and openings. Arntz and Vicente — came to the Ashland Independent Film Festival and held question and answer — sessions after the showing.

"Cops, robbers, boy meets girl, man kills man, is boring — at best and harmful at worst — and we, the filmmakers, think a lot of — people are ready for something different," the group said in the Ashland — Independent Film Festival brochure.By Richard Moeschl