Interview with the Filmmakers of "Awake: The Life of Yogananda"
Indian mystic Paramahansa Yogananda brought yoga and meditation to the West in 1920 and authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi.” By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient teachings accessible to a modern audience. This documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the temptations of the material world in pursuit of Self-Realization.
Paola di Florio is an Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker and TV producer whose work has featured extraordinary individuals and the triumph of the human spirit. Most-recently, she co-wrote & directed the critically-acclaimed AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda (one of the top-grossing indie documentaries of 2014-15) and served as a Series Producer on CNN’s Emmy-nominated The Seventies. Her films have screened at the U.S. Congress and in the British House of Lords. They’ve been distributed theatrically throughout the world and broadcast on HBO, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, CNN, Sundance Channel, Court TV, TLC and A&E.
Her documentaries Speaking in Strings and Home of the Brave feature the lives of strong, maverick women who impacted American culture. These films premiered at Sundance, garnered numerous awards and were honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Writer’s Guild and the International Documentary Association. Other television work includes serving Series Director and Showrunner for TLC’s The Adam Carolla Project, and Executive Producer on a TV series for Canal Plus entitled Directors on Directors.
Di Florio graduated with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has served on film juries and panels, and guest lectured at UCLA, USC, Berkeley, Stanford and other universities and conferences. A mentor for teenage girls at the Spark Program, she is also a founding partner of Nerd Girls, a new media startup dedicated to creating new role models and empowering young women to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and arts (STEAM). Nerd Girls has just been awarded the 2016 “Disruptive Innovations Grant” from IEEE to produce a web-based chat show.
Di Florio is married to filmmaker/author and Counterpoint Films partner Peter Rader, and is the proud mother of their two sons, Matteo and Luca.