Portraying a water goddess, the woman in the sparkly blue headdress and gown raised a cup behind a podium during the 2007 Global Citizen Awards ceremony at Berkeley's International House.
"We come from the water. So I come tonight, with all the waters' blessings," she intoned, portraying a water goddess, vowing to quench world thirst. "People need water everywhere. No matter how much you drink, your deepest thirst will not be quenched unless each of your neighbors has also had a drink."
Emio Tomeoni filmed it. On another day, in downtown Berkeley, he filmed mayoral candidate Zachary RunningWolf predicting a 2012 apocalypse, based on an interpretation of the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar.
"The people of the gold are gonna lose out to the people of the corn and the wood," RunningWolf declared. "We're the people of the wood," he added, gesturing to himself. "We're gonna start shutting the city down."
These and other scenes in Tomeoni's new documentary Power Trip: Theatrically Berkeley reveal what happens when matters of the body and soul mix with politics. In the film, which will screen at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) on Monday, October 26, tree-sitters and other dreamers anguish over pollution, civilization, and human alienation from plant and animal spirits. And their agendas drown each other out.
In one scene, Mayor Tom Bates' then-Chief of Staff Cisco DeVries says that if Berkeley can't implement Measure G — which passed in 2006, instructing city government to create a plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 — "then why did God put us on this planet?" Such ponderings, the filmmaker says, are "definitely feeding into the sense that the people of Berkeley are put on this earth for a higher calling."
A Berkeley native who has worked for NBC, Tomeoni set out initially to document Measure G's progress, then watched it become a rumble. At one city meeting, a speaker claiming to represent "the elders of the Hawaiian priesthood" calls UC Berkeley "a weapon of mass destruction."
"It's a slippery slope when politics mixes with anything," Tomeoni says. "But when you have ... a city that is seemingly more connected with the universe and with what is good for all mankind, you get into a territory where nothing may ever get done. Politics is a game of compromise, and rarely does a person's spirituality deal in compromise." In the end, "nobody really wins."
But what about the people of the wood?
"I watch a lot of History Channel," Tomeoni says, "and this 2012 crossover-change-of-the-guard thing seems as logical as anything else this universe has gone through. Whether it's a polar shift or a global-warming tipping point, I would not be surprised if some serious mess went down." Rustic types are better suited for survival, "but with all due respect to Mr. RunningWolf, living in Berkeley is not really roughing it." 7 p.m., $5-$10. BAMPFA.Berkeley.edu
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