Song of the New Earth: Won’t You Please Listen to This Orcas Island Mystic?

Maybe it’s just me, but the therapeutic efficacy of music must have more convincing advocates than “sound shaman” Tom Kenyon. Subject of this doc by Ward Serrill (The Heart of the Game), Kenyon travels the hotel-conference-room circuit here and in Europe leading meditative seminars—drawing audiences to hear him chant in an odd, throaty falsetto (that often suggests Hermione Gingold) accompanied by finger cymbals, sonorous bowls, and the like. Kenyon arrived at this calling after years as a fairly promiscuous collector of spiritual influences (statuary from Ganesh to Our Lady of Guadalupe adorns his Orcas Island yard) and epiphanies, here rendered in off-putting animated sequences by Drew Christie: among several others, there’s an hours-long spontaneous teenage trance in a cow pasture; visions of angels on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus; and, most momentously, a visitation from androgynous Venusians, the Hathors. (Their insights Kenyon has transmitted and published in The Hathor Material.)

Though a perfectly nice man, Kenyon neither says nor does anything in Song of the New Earth to persuade me he warrants this prettily photographed hagiography; it’s by acolytes for acolytes. There’s no reason to doubt his sincerity (even when his response to an off-camera voice asking what he says to those who think all this is nuts is an insufferably glib “I agree with them!”), or the sincerity of those who benefit from his workshops. But there’s very much reason to doubt that anyone not already a Kenyon devotee will find much to interest them here. Runs Fri., Aug. 29–Thurs., Sept. 4 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 89 minutes.

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