Tantric Tourists

by Jack Diablo
Attention film lovers, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is coming to Jacksonville’s newest spot to catch the latest and greatest in independent film, the Five Points Theatre. There are some really great movies on the list of this renowned event and EU is proud to bring you previews of a few selections.
A documentary about American tourists seeking enlightenment abroad by experiencing the spiritual wonderland that is India might sound cliche, but Tantric Tourists is far more than that. The movie follows a group of diverse and eager characters as they embark on a quest for transformation led by an aging hippie with an obvious lust for life. By persistently begging the question, “Is this the real India?” the film exposes the consumerist nature of American tourism and the willingness of foreign cultures to be exploited for such purposes. Rather than spend their time meditating in ashrams or finding stillness in yogic temples, the group is herded around the country at a lightning-pace to the most visited sites in the country with time only to purchase a few souvenirs and be suckered by the locals. In fact, aside from a few breathing exercises while transiting from tourist trap to tourist trap, the whole “tantric” part of the trip seems to be all but ignored. A few hook-ups are implied, primarily involving the lone wolf of the group, Dellwood, but other than that, the trip seems like a hectic, exhausting bust. Although it becomes immediately clear that the tour-leader is a slightly delusional fraud, the real gem in this movie is how her followers respond to the exhaustion of the poorly planned retreat. What’s more is that each and every one of them seems to fancy themselves as something other than what they truly are. Nearly every character is introduced by their daytime profession along with whatever wacky side job they profess to be involved with. Rather than spoil it, I’ll let you see for yourself. It is clearly belonging to the set of documentaries in which the subjects no doubt regret allowing the camera to peer inside their lives. The humor is incredibly tongue-in-cheek and the commentary is subtle but all of it is entertaining. Tantric Tourists will screen at 1:00 pm on Novemeber 15, 2009.