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From Business to Being

2016
Distributed by Kimstim, 417 13th Street #2, Brooklyn, New York 11215
Produced by Dreampixies
Directed by Hanna Henigin and Julian Wildgruber
DVD , color, 89 min.
College - General Adult
Business, Management, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, Mental Health, Buddhism


Reviewed by Alan Witt, Business Librarian, SUNY Geneseo

Recommended with reservations   
 
Date Entered: 11/13/2017

From Business to Being aims to send out a clarion call for action, asking organizations to treat employees in a holistic manner and to abandon the damaging assumption that people can be reduced to “homo-economicus.” The film follows a selection of managers speaking about their personal journeys and the ways in which mindfulness practices either saved them, improved their lives, or enhanced the health of their employees. From Business to Being practices what it preaches, interspersing interviews and therapy sessions with meditative scenery and filmed practice sessions of mindfulness techniques, showing, as well as telling, the benefits of the practices. The film has a clear agenda, as no critiques of mindfulness are given, but it backs up its arguments with references to recent findings in psychology and neuroscience. The experts featured in the film argue that a paradigm shift is needed to pull corporations and workers away from their current self-destructive course and towards a more mindful collaboration that inspires and elevates the workers as complete human beings.

While the polemic intent of the piece is clear, it is still a masterful polemic. The composition of the film subtly and continuously reinforces the message throughout. For instance, the choice of images moves from shaky cameras and office cityscapes in the beginning towards a balance of images moored in temples and in the wilderness, and ends on the top of a mountain looking out into nature. The music likewise shifts from jangling, bouncy techno in the intro towards chimes, bells, and flowing music that soothes the mind. The most effective part of the piece is that it embodies the ideals it espouses, and encourages the viewer through the cinematography to actively participate in mindfulness practices while watching.

The choice of interviewees is likewise well thought out. In particular, the inclusion of a former banker at Lehman Brothers (speaking on mindfulness and ethics) was an inspired choice. The moving personal stories and the clear benefits that these people have gained through learning mindfulness techniques eloquently make the filmmakers’ point.

All of these factors result in a highly inspirational film, and for a class specifically on mindfulness practices or holistic management it would make an excellent addition. As an educational tool outside of the confines of that particular situation, however, it has several drawbacks. The laid back nature of the film means that the clips that can be extracted for viewing are likely to eat up more class time, and while of potential value as case studies, the interviews do not contain much educational grist to chew on. From Business to Being really works best when viewed in full, and that is problematic given the full-movie runtime. Coupled with the usual high price-tag for business films, the dollar/educational materials ratio is not optimal.

From Business to Being seems best designed for the corporate environment as a workplace training tool for managers. In an educational library for a large corporation, this could be a valuable addition. Likewise, the dramatically lower cost for public libraries and high schools makes it an excellent purchase for those environments, though the content is probably not as relevant for teenagers in high school. For the college level, the length and cost of the film is rather prohibitive for either classroom or supplementary use.

Overall, this is an excellent, well-made, and inspiring film, but one with an agenda and a specific polemical intent. Libraries watching their budget might be better suited to finding more educationally oriented content, but for those with sufficient purchasing power this is an excellent addition to any general collection or business library.