Your Health: A Sacred Matter explores the role religion and health have played historically in Western medicine; the connections between religion, spirituality and health that are increasingly common in contemporary society; the role of religion and spirituality in healer’s lives and their approach to healing. The film discusses how modern biomedical investigations into mind/body connections are challenging conventional views about religion and spirituality in the West and how modern healers respond to a multicultural clientele. Given this moment of apparent transition in the history of healing as it relates to religion and spirituality in the West, we show how this knowledge is being passed on to the next generation of healers as well as the public at large. Through the film, we interpret engaging ways religion, spirituality and health interact in the everyday lives of many Americans.

“Your Health: A Sacred Matter” was made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and distributed by American Public Television.


Documentary Scene Chapters

“Your Health: A Sacred Matter” is structured around a series of ‘chapters’ or film segments, which literally or metaphorically convey the theme(s) being explored and visualized.

PROLOGUE: A series of visuals punctuated by statements that orient the audience to the range of subject matter, including Christina Puchalski, M.D. Director of The George Washington Institute for Spirituality & Health:  “What an amazing reframing it would be if instead of looking at healthcare as a business, that we look at it as something sacred, something special, as a calling.”

WHITE COAT CEREMONY: The White Coat Ceremony at the Icahn School of Medicine, at Mount Sinai (NYC): New medical students pledge “to promote a culture of wellness and mindfulness” for their patients.

FORMING COMPASSIONATE PHYSICIANS: At the University of Chicago School of Medicine, medical students participate in programs that enable them to look at spirituality as an essential element of healthcare.

FINDING MEANING IN MEDICINE: The realities include growing physician frustration with the medical system, patient dissatisfaction and increasing burnout by health care practitioners. In Mill Valley, California we visit a group of physicians suffering from ‘compassion fatigue’ who meet regularly to tell their personal stories reminding themselves why they felt ‘called’ to medicine.

AN ANCIENT LINEAGE:  Medicine’s religious origins are explored in depth including the 17th century scientific revolution, which relegated the care of the body to science and the soul to the church.

BODY & SOUL – THE SEARCH FOR CONNECTION: At The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital we filmed stress reduction meditation classes for teens and interviewed the Institute’s renowned founder, Dr. Herbert Benson, author of “The Relaxation Response”;

RESEARCH: RELIGION & HEALTH: We examine a number of research studies: looking at that relationship between religion, well-being and happiness. Praying for the sick: does it do any good? Will attending religious services improve your health? How do religious & spiritual practices change the brain? Is forgiveness a powerful predictor of health status? e.g. We filmed young adults on the subject of forgiveness in the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

DOCTORS – HEALERS, TECHNICIANS, OR BOTH? We depict the controversy over whether the appropriate place for religion & spirituality remains with the clergy and not in the doctor’s office.

CHAPLAINCY – A MINISTRY OF PRESENCE: We follow a pediatric chaplain & show the many spiritual challenges faced on a typical day at Stanford Medical Center (Palo Alto, CA).

TAKING CARE OF ONE’S OWN: Early Judeo-Christian immigration to America gives rise to hospitals that meet their religious needs. African Americans after emancipation were essentially locked out of white hospitals and medical services. Today AME churchwomen move to the forefront of public health activism becoming responsible for the communities health needs.

CULTURALLY SENSITIVE CARE: One of the high priorities in our healthcare system is honoring, respecting and accommodating religious beliefs of a diverse population. Examples range from a Navajo Native Medicine Practitioner at the Gallup (NM) Medical Center, who provides council to his Navajo patients to better understand western medical practices in treating their illness; to visiting the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (Fla.) to see how the religious beliefs of Muslim congregants impact their health needs.

NURSING A COMMUNITY:  Faith communities and healthcare systems are working together in partnership.” In an innovative parish-nursing program in Quincy, MA, we show essential services & personal interactions. For parish nurses the patient is the whole family.”

IT’S NOT ABOUT CURING — IT’S ABOUT HEALING: We explore Palliative Care, death with dignity. A Stanford Health Care chaplain visits a 100 year-old man in home hospice care, and his daughters. The father and the daughters share with the chaplain their greater appreciation of life and relationship in the last days of his life.”

CAREGIVING — SPIRITUAL WORK: “I heard two words, brain injury and ventilator. I did not know if my daughter was going to be dead or alive.” We witness a mother, and daughter’s spiritual journey with their support team of caregiver, music and art therapist confronting the challenges of rehabilitation.

GRADUATION CELEBRATION: The documentary concludes with graduating medical students The George Washington University School of Medicine reciting the Hippocratic Oath — “I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity…”

The filmmakers

Gerald Krell, President/Producer

Mr. Krell has served as a producer/director of documentaries, feature films and public affairs programs worldwide.  He has produced and directed three award-winning national public television interfaith documentaries including: “The Asian & Abrahamic Religions: A Divine Encounter in America” which was an official selection of the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival. “Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam”, which The New York Times called, “a thought-provoking PBS documentary,” and “Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith” of which the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said: ‘As a thoughtful guide to respect and tolerance ‘A Journey of Faith’ may have no peer. The documentary is a choice example of thorough reporting and brilliant editing.” Mr. Krell also produced and directed the documentary “The National Press Club: A Century of Headlines,” covering key journalistic issues like freedom of the press, bias in the news and secrecy in government.  He is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Meyer Odze, Vice-President/Producer  

Mr. Odze was co-producer, videographer and editor on the three interfaith documentaries mentioned above. He also collaborated with Mr. Krell on “Crimes Against Humanity” as well as “The National Press Club: A Century of Headlines.” He enjoyed a long career as a producer, director, writer, editor and videographer. His documentary, “The Fragile Ring of Life,” earned the prestigious Earthwatch Award at the National Geographic Society. The program documents the threat to coral reefs around the globe from man’s destructive practices and was shot on location in Jamaica, Palau, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. It premiered at the Smithsonian Institution to celebrate the International Year of the Reef, and made its American television debut on the Discovery Network’s Animal Planet channel. He was a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Mr. Odze passed on in May of 2015, and “Your Health: A Sacred Matter” is dedicated to his memory.

Adam Krell, Producing Partner

Mr. Krell is a producer, videographer and editor making films for public television and corporate clients.  He produces an international affairs television series, “World Affairs Today” for the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC, which broadcasts nationwide on the MHz Network. Guests on the program have included Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz, General Colin Powell, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA. He has produced documentaries for corporate clients including: JW Aluminum, for whom he created an award-winning ten-part series of training modules; and the Willard InterContinental Hotel, producing documentaries on the hotel’s history and highlighting the hotel’s environmental sustainability programs.  As videographer, his work was notably seen in the documentary,  “Ashes of American Flags: Wilco Live” which was broadcast nationally on the Sundance Channel.  He’s has been a videographer on nationwide shoots with news producers from Pakistan and Afghanistan through the State Department’s co-op program. He also has been a videographer covering Nike, American Express, and McIntosh Audio Systems, PR & marketing events.  He was an associate producer and videographer on award-winning documentaries including, “The Asian & Abrahamic Religions: A Divine Encounter in America”, Three Faiths One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” and “The National Press Club: A Century of Headlines” which are broadcast on public television stations nationwide .


Washington, D.C. Premiere Screening of  “Your Health: A Sacred Matter”

(Washington, D.C.) The new documentary “Your Health: A Sacred Matter” will premiere in Washington, DC at the National Press Club on Tuesday, May 23 prior to its release and broadcasts by public television stations nationwide.

Doors open at 6p.m. with a cash bar and light refreshments. The film will begin at 6:45 with a panel discussion immediately following. Tickets are available here.

The panelists featured in the documentary are:  Dr. Christina Puchalski Founder & Director George Washington Institute for Spirituality & Health,  Dr. Daniel Sulmasy Professor of Biomedical Ethics Georgetown University, and

Dr. Siva Subramanian Chief, Neonatal Perinatal Medicine, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. In addition to Gerald Krell Producer & Director “Your Health: A Sacred Matter” and  producing partner Adam Krell Producer & Director of Photography.

The program is underwritten by the John Templeton Foundation.

Photographed on locations nationwide, this documentary is a comprehensive overview of the relationship between religion, spirituality, and health. It weaves together compelling individual stories from doctors, patients, nurses, chaplains and caregivers. The lives they share on film are ones of personal transcendence, courage, and dignity. What is really beneath the hundreds of “white coats” found in a hospital? People who have heart!

If medical professionals are merely thought of as mechanical chart-readers and prescription dispensers and if pastoral professionals are viewed simply as automatons robotically programmed to read prayers and Scripture, the healing arts will lose their personal, compassionate touch.

Science and religion have long been thought by many to be incompatible at best or enemies at worst. Yet a new wind is blowing through America. Health and spirituality are not two separate worlds within communities. Our health is a sacred matter.

### end ###

Accolades for the filmmakers:

Gerald Krell, President/Producer and Adam Krell, Producing Partner of Auteur Productions, Ltd. have produced documentaries, feature films and public affairs programs worldwide. Their new documentary, “Your Health: A Sacred Matter,” was underwritten by the John Templeton Foundation and the Hartley Film Foundation.

Their new feature film is the Winner of the International Award of Excellence from the International Film Festival for Spirituality and Religion in Jakarta, Indonesia and an Official Selection of the Las Cruces International Film Festival in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Your Health: A Sacred Matter” will be aired by American Public Television and the World Station channels nationwide, starting in May.

Auteur Productions’ other public television interfaith films include “The Asian & Abrahamic Religions: A Divine Encounter in America,” an Official Selection of the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival.

The New York Times called their feature film “Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” ‘a thought-provoking PBS documentary.’

The Seattle-Post-Intelligencer lauded their documentary “Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith.” ‘As a thoughtful guide to respect and tolerance ‘A Journey of Faith’ may have no peer. The documentary is a choice example of thorough reporting and brilliant editing.

Gerald and Adam Krell also produced and directed the documentary “The National Press Club: A Century of Headlines,” covering key journalistic issues like freedom of the press, bias in the news and secrecy in government.