“Transformation…” at SF IndieFest 2011 Opening Night

Transformation:  The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard
On Thursday February 3rd, 2011 9:15 pm “Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard” opened at the Roxie Theatre for SF IndieFest. San Francisco is where Werner Erhard founded est (Erhard Seminars Training), yet it took five years since the film completed in 2006 for it’s San Francisco premiere. The film makers response to why it took this long is down in the Q&A section.

Since I did the est Training (in 1975) and the audience mainly have done est, Landmark Education or know people associated, I will focus on the audience and film maker activities at the showing.

Background

First for those unfamiliar, some abbreviated background much of which the film is concerned with. Werner Erhard’s was born September 5th, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as John Paul Rosenberg often called Jack Rosenberg. His High School girl friend, Patricia Fry, got pregnant. At family insistance, they married in 1953 and had four children. In 1960 Jack Rosenberg abandoned his family, leaving with June Bryde. Jack changed his name to Werner Hans Erhard and June to Ellen Virginia Erhard. Later in Sausalito, California Werner worked for Encyclopædia Britannica’s “Great Books” program, at the same time he studied Zen, took Dale Carnegie Course, Subud and other human potential courses. In 1968 Werner became interested in Scientology, taking courses up to possibly Grade IV and performed auditing. Finally he became an instructor in Mind Dynamics which he purchased the rights to, modified and named est (Erhard Seminars Training.) est became very successful in the 1970’s and 1980’s going through several name changes from “est”, “est, an Educational Corporation” to “Werner Erhard and Associates” ending in 1991 with “Landmark Education.” Also, in 1991, 60 Minutes aired a segment on Werner Erhard where family members and employees accused Werner of a number of misdeeds. Werner left shortly before that airing and has been in various locations outside the U.S., mainly outside the public eye.

Enric on Werner's Sirona

I did the est Training in 1975 at hotels in San Francisco between graduating from High School and entering college. I was very involved in taking courses and assisting (volunteering) for almost nine years. Here is a photo of myself from Dec. 31st, 1981 on Werner sailboat, Sirona, at an event to acknowledge (thank) assistants (volunteers.)

In Line

In line to see Transformation on 2/3/2011
When I got at the Roxie Theatre around 8:45 pm the director, Robyn Symon, was in a circle of about five people. I introduced myself. A line hadn’t formed yet, but about ten minutes later more people showed up.

By the time we entered there were a bit more than twenty people in the theatre. I did have the pleasure of sitting next to, talking with and catching up with a woman I assisted with almost 30 years ago. Further back I saw a couple I know from the tech and social media activities in the area. I asked them if they’d done est or Landmark. They said they didn’t. He said he was interested because he’s involved in social activities. She said that she’d heard that Werner had shown he’d changed in the film. I told her that the Executive Producer of the film, Walter Maksym, is Werner’s lawyer.

Q&A

During the Q&A, Robyn mentioned that the film premiered in New York and had gotten mainly positive reviews in the locations it’s been shown. She was then asked why it hadn’t premiered in San Francisco were est began. She replied that is why it didn’t — because of the local press est had gotten and that such journalists would show up.

A man in front said that the film was one sided and if it’s a documentary why didn’t it get the points of view from the other side. Robyn mentioned that Rick Ross presented his critical views of Werner. He responded there’s other journalists that could have been included.

I asked what’s next for the film besides DVD and festivals. Robyn said they’re in negotiations for TV and international distribution. Someone asked to that if there’s an audience outside the U.S. Robyn replied that there are Landmark offices around the world.

The wife of the couple I know and chatted with asked if there was financial connections to Landmark. Robyn said that they had to look for backing when they went to other countries, but didn’t mention the connection to Werner through his lawyer as the films Executive Producer.

In the lobby I asked Robyn if we could do a video interview on the film for this videoblog site. She said she’s shy and would rather not. Then I asked if I could video the Q&A. She asked if I already had. I responded I hadn’t but will be coming to the Saturday showing. She said no. I said that there will be more people on Saturday. She agreed.

5 Responses to ““Transformation…” at SF IndieFest 2011 Opening Night”


  1. 1 gurutruth

    I wonder if it came up at all in the discussion why the president of one of the film’s production companies – Eagle Island Films – is Walter Maksym – a lawyer for Werner Erhard who represented Werner Erhard when he sued twenty defendants including CBS in response to the March 3, 1991 program on “60 Minutes”, and the same Walter Maksym that is president of “Breakthru Publishing”, the publishing company that released the book “60 Minutes and the Assassination of Werner Erhard”, also attempting to defend Werner Erhard after the “60 Minutes” investigation?

  2. 2 Enric

    That the film executive producer, Walter Maksym, is Werner’s lawyer didn’t come up in the Q&A or any discussion with the film makers I noticed. As mentioned above, Robyn had a chance to address that when asked in the Q&A about the film’s funding.

  3. 3 gurutruth

    So Robyn Symon the director had a chance to address this important issue, and received at least one question in the discussion about the film’s source of funding, but neglected to mention that it was co-produced by the lawyer for Werner Erhard – Walter Maksym ? Why was this not mentioned or made more clear in promotional materials about the film?

  4. 4 Enric

    Good question, gurutruth; one that should be asked of Robyn.

  5. 5 gurutruth

    Yeah. Hopefully someone will eventually ask the film’s director about these issues.

Comments are currently closed.