Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. Headshot

Interview With Demian Lichtenstein, Award-Winning Filmmaker of 'Discover the Gift'

Posted: Updated:

"Discover the Gift" is the remarkable feature-length documentary that is based upon the book by the same name and created by award-winning filmmaker Demian Lichtenstein, with his sister, Shajen Joy Aziz. It celebrates the basic but vital reality that there are gifts in each person, and in all circumstances, that are simply awaiting discovery.

The film and book offer powerful lessons from authors, educators, activists, artists and icons including the Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Jack Canfield, Janet Attwood, Terry Tillman, David "Avocado" Wolfe, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Mark Victor Hansen, Niurka and more.

I recently had the opportunity to see "Discover the Gift" and was totally mesmerized from beginning to end by so many of the uplifting messages and geographical sacred places in the movie -- as well as by its extraordinary transformational theme. It has been hailed as one of the most important spiritual and inspirational films on the planet by many of today's innovative teachers. I was honored to speak with filmmaker Demian Lichtenstein about his film.

RA: Tell me about the theme and storyline in the movie and book "Discover the Gift."

DL: "Discover the Gift" is the story of one man's journey from unconsciousness to consciousness. It tracks the story of a high flying, A-list Hollywood director who reaches the pinnacle of success to discover that there was something missing in his life. While on a journey of self discovery, he realizes that the most important thing in his life is to reconnect with his estranged sister. Together they embark on rediscovering not only their love of each other and family, but how they can make a profound difference in the world by sharing their simple but transformational story.

RA: The theme of reuniting and the transformation of you and your sister is very profound. What is the inspiration for the book and movie?

DL: It began with a simple yet powerful question from my sister, "When is the man I know going to match the work he is doing in the world?" From this question I began to interview transformational leaders that I knew. My sister and her husband joined me, and this evolved into writing the book. One teacher and enlightened master after another opened their heart and soul to us.

Each one became a road map to our own discovery of the divine gift that is in each and every human being. I would say that it is because of how open and receptive we were -- which, by the way, receptivity is the first chapter and step in the book and movie -- that we found so many doors were open to us, and that so many teachers wanted to share their gifts with us so we could pass them on to the world.

RA: I was extremely moved while watching the movie. I found it mesmerizing and captivating and also found the cinematography to be stunningly brilliant. Can you share the various salient themes that were weaved throughout the entire film?

DL: Absolutely! My sister and I broke the structure down into eight simple universal/spiritual laws or steps that worked for us on our own journey of healing, and then shared them through our story as openly and authentically as we could. Obviously, the book goes much deeper into the details of our lives.

We then incorporated as simply as we could the process that we worked through ourselves, which clearly the great luminaries and spiritual masters also teach. As my sister said, we wanted to be able to share these universal themes and steps with 6 to 106-year-olds. Again, the first step is receptivity, which opens you up and gives you the opportunity to just be present to the possibility that you have a profound gift.

Through the movie and book, as well as the audio program, we bring you through this process to Step 2, which is intention. Step 3 is activation. Step 4 is infinite feedback, or what I call the infinite look of feedback through creation. Step 5 is vibration. Step 6 is adversity and transformation. Step 7 is creating a conscious and compassionate world that for us is all about unity up to the final ultimate step -- love.

It is a process that one gets to uncover and recognize their unique and sacred gift that we all have, and then once discovered learn how to nurture it. So it is not only about the discovery of our own gift, but how to bring it to life and then share it with the world -- which then leaves you in a state of consciousness and compassion with the experience of love. I really feel this is what it is all about.

RA: What is your favorite aspect of the movie, and what do you consider is the takeaway that the audience will get from watching "Discover the Gift?"

DL: I still get moved by the scene between my sister, Shajen and I. This exists because of the transformation and breakthrough we had with each other. It's the scene when I am in Rome and she's in her art studio. It is my favorite scene, not because it's the most beautifully shot in the movie, but because it shows the depth and the truths of an authentic expression of two people pushing past their own fears and resentment and claiming the ultimate gift of love as their birthright. For the takeaway, follow your passion, pursuing what you love is the roadmap to your gift.

RA: The word of mouth on the movie has been sensational. How can people see your film?

DL: Yes, I am very gratified and thankful for the audience response to "Discover the Gift." The easiest way to watch the film or learn more about our workshops that are based on it is to go to There you can order the movie on DVD, check for screenings around the country or request your own screening.

From Our Partners