Kahlil Gibran ~ The Reluctant visionary ~ a film by Glen Kalem

“Passionate Love is a Quenchless thirst”

Glen Kalem1

I would like to firstly thank the WLCU-BC council, and the “Lebanese heritage” for allowing me this space to write a little about my work and world. My hope is that it makes a good read and above all inspires thought and friendships.   

So why Gibran? And why me?

“your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding”

It was 1999, facing a crossroads moment in my life, searching for answers to recent setbacks that inevitably led to a major grounding, that I would later define as a necessary scholastic quarantine.  

Like most second-generation sons of Lebanese blue collar immigrants, I had clung to roots I had very little knowledge of, but was so passionately committed to.

But it was an awkward life, one riddled with reasoning my Australian born identity into a proud Lebanese heritage.  In gastronomical terms you ate Lebanese bread but you filled it with Vegemite (Australian Breakfast spread).   To diverse at the time for conservative lunch boxes, one can only imagine how Christopher Columbus had felt a mere 500 years ago when he proclaimed  the world was not flat but round; unlike the Lebanese Bread I grew up eating.

The constant conflict within my self to be an Australian and Lebanese in the same manner was starting to take its toll and somehow you dreamt of a perfect match of cultures that had the best of both worlds. It was a road hard trodden and long dreamt.

Desperately searching for a hero to relieve my cultural and spiritual pangs I found refuge in Gibran.

The excitement I felt then has never left me; if anything, it has deepened. What began as the interest of a hobbyist, fifteen years later has grown into a full-blown passion, resulting in an extensive travel to sites across the globe, a personal library of research, which includes text, images and film.

Why the film, The Reluctant Visionary?  

It’s got a lot to do with the fact that I found in Gibran a vision far-reaching and powerful enough to make sense of divisions within myself that had never been resolved. But it wasn’t just a personal thing. This was a man giving voice to the shared aspirations of a whole race of people scattered across the face of the earth – and not just a race. Gibran’s people are all people. His greatness is that he reaches into the living depths of every human heart and speaks the language of eternity. He says to each of us, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion:

 “You are far far greater than you know, and all is well

Telling Gibran’s film story through his readership, I hope to find his visionary qualities, which neither belongs to him or anyone else. In fact the vision already exists in us all; ‘I am but a drop of this great ocean.’ He once wrote.  Otherwise how would we have been able to know our own reflections when they presented themselves through artwork such as Gibran’s?
Glen Kalem 

Learn more about Glen Kalem

Born in Sydney Australia, Glen Kalem is the son of Lebanese parents Naim and Samira Habib from Aintorrine, Lebanon. His parents came to Australia in the 1960’s in lure of a better working life for themselves, raising three children of which Glen is the youngest.

He deems Australia first and foremost his home and considers his upbringing in a country which families one the largest multicultural communities in the world a privilege to grew up in. He takes immense pride in the fact that Lebanese have significantly contributed to this great honour since 1854.

Returning to education as a mature age student he completed selected studies at Deakin University in Melbourne Victoria in Middle Eastern Literature and Culture, not long after moving onto Film Studies at the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS), Media Business School MBS and MetroSceen Sydney, where he completed and received his Certificate IV in Screen and Media.

Beside his passion for the visual arts Glen Kalem is an international Kahlil Gibran researcher and historian who is turning his findings into a debut feature length documentary film.  He currently sits on the board of the newly founded Kahlil Gibran Global Forum, an initiative of the Maryland University under the auspices of renowned Kahlil Gibran Biographer and Scholar and Professor of Sociology, Suheil Bushrui.

He seeks the engagement of willing participants to help develop and make his documentary a reality. Head to www.gibranfilm.com for more details.


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