Congratulations to all of the winners of the annual Arizona Attorney Creative Arts Competition. Each of them is featured in our May issue, which will be available in late April.

Because of obvious restrictions, our music winner’s work cannot be published in the magazine. But it is available, here, for you to hear and enjoy. Well done, Doug Passon.

I previously wrote about a film of Doug’s here. Read more about it below.

Here is Doug’s background and bio:

DOUG PASSON has been playing guitar and writing songs since the age of 14. He has been practicing criminal defense in the Valley for almost 17 years. His other creative passion is film. He is President & Creative Director of D Major Films (dmajorfilms.com), which produces commercial and narrative documentaries on topics and for organizations focused on fostering social change. He also teaches and consults with legal professionals nationwide on how to use moving pictures as a tool of persuasion in their court cases.

“No Tomorrow” is a meditation on the joy and pain of living, and a call to live more deeply by embracing the uncertainty of the future.

A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

As Doug says, he wrote the words, melody and music. “The song is performed by Dan Nichols, a singer/songwriter based out of Raleigh, N.C., and a dear friend of mine. Dan is the subject of a documentary film I recently directed called ‘Road to Eden’ (www.roadtoedenfilm.com). The song is a reminder that life is fragile and temporary and if we are to live fully, we must live fully in the moment. This was inspired, in part, by the life and death of an incredible lawyer, mentor and friend, Darrow Soll.”

Here is Doug’s winning song, “No Tomorrow.”

And here are a few photos of Doug at the magazine photo shoot.

Doug Passon being photographed by Karen Shell, foreground, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon being photographed by Karen Shell, foreground, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon passes the time between shoots, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon passes the time between shots, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

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A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

This Sunday in Scottsdale, the film Road to Eden will be shown at the Harkins Camelview. If your Sunday afternoon is still free, I urge you to see it. If it’s not, then break your other appointments and go.

When I sat down to write about it, I was just going to view the eight-minute preview available on the film’s website. But I was so taken by that clip, I decided to stay up way too late last night to view the entire film (which writer/director Doug Passon had provided to me in advance).

So I may be sleepy this morning, but that is entirely overborne by the pleasure and excitement I took away from the film.

Not knowing what to expect in a film made by someone whose day job is attorney (Doug works in the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix), I was surprised but intrigued to see the movie is an exploration of the Jewish holiday called Sukkot. Here is part of the film’s description:

“Road to Eden is a feature-length documentary film that captures the essence of Judaism’s most profound teachings about our connection to the earth, the fragility of existence, and our dream of a world perfected.”
“The spine of the film is the inspirational journey of Dan Nichols, a tour de force of modern Jewish music, who took his show on the road for the Jewish festival of Sukkot in October 2011. Dan and his incredible band Eighteen loaded into an RV and wandered through the Deep South. Each day of Sukkot brought a new town, a unique celebration, and uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking Sukkot stories.”

Before you make assumptions, this is not a movie made just for a Jewish audience. The messages it explores—about community, and ardor for a life fully lived, and about ever becoming a fuller self—are compelling ones for any viewer.

In addition, Doug told me, “Although the movie is rooted in Jewish thought, the themes of the film are universal and particularly relevant to the legal community, with a heavy emphasis on immigrant rights and social justice.”

"Road to eden" includes beautiful visual markers throughout that should be printed, framed and displayed.

“Road to Eden” includes beautiful visual markers throughout that should be printed, framed and displayed. (Here’s just one.)

Those last two elements come through strongly, especially as Dan Nichols and his bandmates travel through Alabama, which at the time had just enacted a harsh anti-immigration law (“the Arizona law on steroids,” as a Diane Sawyer describes it in a news clip). And the journey about Sukkot is masterfully capped by an extended discussion about Martin Luther King, Jr. As we hear from a fellow civil rights advocate, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, who stood next to King as he was shot in Memphis, viewers may be moved to explore their own choices and the public policies that guide us all. It is a deeply moving interview.

If you only view the movie to learn more about Sukkot, a below-the-radar holiday, it would be worth it. (The holiday requires construction of a temporary structure, largely open to the elements, recalling those who had been freed from slavery in Egypt but who had to wander before ever finding a permanent home.) Seeing the variety of creative ways people celebrate is marvelous. But it wasn’t until about 40 minutes in that I could see that all of us humans may be encapsulated in Sukkot—at least, all of us humans who are still questing and aiming to improve.

Here is Dan Nichols praising the Jewish kids camps that dot the country and that mean so much to those who attend:

“Who’s there? These living, breathing Sukkot, these children, who are in transition, who are not strong structures yet. They are still trying to figure out who they’re gonna be, what’s important to them, what they stand for.”

Open-eyed viewers may see a little of themselves in those summer camps.

The generational imperative is strong in the film, and it is emphasized finally in the civil rights advocate interview. Dan asks Reverend Kyles how he continues on, even in the face of heartbreak like the assassination of Dr. King. The answer: We still have a long way to go. But “these young people will find ways that we cannot imagine.”

Before I sign off, I must point out two additional strong elements of the film: The music (yes, it’s a band-on-the-road film) is fantastic, heartfelt, beautifully composed and sung. And the interstitial illustrations that pepper the film are remarkable, wisely chosen and perfectly evoke the path on a road to a better world. Animation was done by ZAZ Animation Studio, Israel.

The film is playing one time, as part of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival. Tickets are available for purchase on the Festival website, or you can buy tickets at the theatre right before the screening. Students are 1/2 price.

The film screens Sunday, Feb. 23, at 3:00 pm, at Harkins Camelview Theatre, 7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale 85251. I hope to see you there.

More about the film is here.