Journey Back To India: A Feature Film

Me in India 1972
We have all heard about the “summer of love”, with all that love comes babies and that is where my story starts. I was born in 1968 as the world was exploding with new ideas. It was a tumultuous era of radical political and cultural events that changed the world.
- --Filmmaker Michelle Mansfield

Me being protected from the elephant

Scanned Slides from 1972-74

Various India Images


Michelle Mansfield’s parents were only 18 when she was born; children giving birth to children. They began, in true ‘hippie’ mode, to explore alternative philosophies and lifestyles around the world. Beginning in Turkey, they traveled a trail to be followed by thousands of subsequent seekers; caravanning through Iran, Afghanistan, up over the Khyber pass through Pakistan, and into India by 1972. Their spiritual quest then began in earnest with the religious circuit of the vibrant and tumultuous country.

Me with Rajneesh 1974
The family sat with famed spiritual leaders and gurus: Rajneesh, Muktananda, Sai Baba, Goenka, the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa, and Lama Yeshe. Legions of searchers traveled thousands of miles to gain wisdom and find enlightenment from these leaders and philosophers. Michelle experienced them as she might a series of grandparents. As a child she was given special treatment, photographed on their laps and given personal blessings. The extraordinary early life she experienced in India has all the sensational colors and visual lushness of a vivid dream.
My memories of this time are a collage of intense scenes, sounds, and smells; without the context of the adult meaning. By going back I hope to gain a better understanding: What were these gurus teaching? How did the ashrams view these visitors? What was everyone searching for?

This full-length documentary film returns to landscapes and memories of India and the filmmaker's childhood - to piece together a fantastic personal past and explore issues of memory and meaning. Through a very personal journey the film touches on questions we all share: Why, and how, do people remember the same events so differently? Who have we become in our lives and why?

At the heart of the film are the effects these unparalleled beginnings had on a child and her family. Divergent memories from mother, father and child are pieced together to tell the story of a family... and of a generation.

Accompanied by sister Soma Tara, Director of Photography Peter Rummel, and soundman Justin McReynolds, Michelle travels to India to revisit the ashrams and communes along the route of her parent's original quest. This film is her quest; a journey to the land of her childhood. The inner travels will take their own path as she explores the India of today while putting the India of her childhood into social and emotional context.

Sequences and resources include:
- India Footage from 2006 documenting the journey back with sister
- Nearly one thousand still photographs from the family’s collection
- Excerpts or references from her mother’s extensive journals written at that time
- Interviews with both parents now divorced with differing views.
- Interviews with the current spiritual leaders and administrators from the locations where her family lived, worshipped, searched and practiced
- Interviews with Michelle Mansfield
- Potential interviews with other adults with the common experience of living in the various sites in India during their shared childhood

Journey Back To India: A Feature Film connects prime factors of family relationships and personal growth to a time of uncommon questioning and spiritual seeking as America's first post-war generation, the Baby-Boomers, began to come of age. This film brings generations full circle to reflect on the personal and global repercussions of one of the most significant eras in recent world history.

Production starts July 2006. Filming in India Dec 2006.

in Varanasi

Learning from a Sadu

Shark Fisherman

A Leaping Media Production ©2006