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New documentary chronicles people who actually follow Jedi ‘religion’

The film “American Jedi” examines a group of Star Wars fans who see themselves as “real life Jedi” guarding peace in the galaxy, filmmaker Laurent Malaquais told the Huffington Post. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

As fans flock to see the newly released film, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” a new documentary follows people whose affinity for “Star Wars” has led them to follow the Jedi “religion,” according to the Huffington Post.

What is the documentary?

The film “American Jedi” examines a group of "Star Wars" fans who see themselves as “real life Jedi” guarding peace in the galaxy, filmmaker Laurent Malaquais told the Huffington Post.

“The cinema was always a sacred space for me and 'Star Wars' kept bringing me back there,” he said.

He credited his upbringing in Northern California by parents whom he called “hippies” with giving him an open mind about religion.

“I grew up in an environment where spirituality was about being inclusive of many religious practices,” he said. “I connected with the idea of being a Jedi, which is half warrior and half enlightened seeker of spiritual truth.”

According to the Huffington Post, “American Jedi” follows one follower of Jediism in particular: Opie Macleod. While they were living in the Jedi community, Macleod discovered his wife was having an affair with his friend Miles Robinson, described as “a practicing Sith.”

“My student, who I had said was a Jedi Knight, not only tossed the Jedi path away, to follow and explore the Sith path,” Macleod said, the Huffington Post reported, “but also slept with a Sith.”

Macleod left the Jedi community for several years, but returned to teach a new student, a former marine named Perris Cartwright.

Cartwright said, according to the Huffington Post, that she lives with trauma following multiple rapes she suffered during her time in the marine corps and struggled to reconcile her military past with the peaceful idealism of the Jedi.

“Jediism wasn’t like a magic wand. It was a learning process,” Cartwright said, according to the Huffington Post. “It was like scraping my fist against the cement for a lot of years.”

Is there a lesson to learn from this documentary?

Malaquais described Macleod and Cartwright as “two wounded souls.”

“It is those wounds that brought them to the Jedi path,” Malaquais said.

Malaquais said filming the documentary impacted his own spirituality.

“I did not think that I’d be able to use Jediism in regards to my own personal struggles,” he said. “Opie Macleod taught me a valuable lesson. Whenever you are confronted with a difficult situation in life, the very first thing you must do is fully accept it.”

Malaquais said he came away from the film with the conclusion that “Jediism is very much a religion.”

“Simply because it’s inspired by ancient religious practices and it definitely takes the place of religion in the lives of Jedi,” he said.

Malaquais previously directed “Bronies,” a documentary that examined adult fans of the television series “My Little Pony.”

“American Jedi” is available on iTunes.

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