"For me, aliens are reality," Carolyn Cobelo, the director and founder of the Metaphysical Film Festival, says. "They're just not something you can assess with your normal, daily intelligence."

Aliens, along with other subjects not accessible to normal, daily intelligence—such as invisibility, the civil rights of modern day witches (a possible exception), "animal soul loss" and the healing powers of everything from singing with dolphins to crystal singing bowls are explored through a variety of films, both long and short. The film fest also features talks and an art market—where sacred art comingles with the profane act of selling stuff.

Moreover, a Santa Fe Metaphysical Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award is added to the Oscar already possessed by reincarnation/crystal-power/angel-believer and actress Shirley MacLaine.

And, of course, there are parties galore, which, it might be assumed, function as new-age/middle-age mind/meat/soul-markets. These include an East Indian-themed dance party and a performance by local actor Gary Farmer's rock band, The Troublemakers.

"Metaphysics involves having fun," Cobelo says. "It's not all theory. And with Gary Farmer, it's nice that he's, you know, Native. Because one of the things that we're trying to do is be multi-ethnic so that we can honor all the traditions."

Should people do drugs to get into the metaphysical swing of things? "I'm not going to say yes to that," Cobelo says. "It probably wouldn't hurt. It would probably help. But I wouldn't recommend it. I mean, these films are like drugs. They're mind expanding."

Cobelo once served on the Santa Fe Film Festival's board and is a practicing filmmaker herself, with her "Indiana Jones meets The Secret" metaphysical-thriller Sukra: Legends of the Sacred Stone currently in preproduction. But she's also a spiritual healing practitioner who migrated, after an awakening that she experienced when a guru touched her forehead with a wand of peacock feathers, from practicing gestalt therapy to transpersonal therapy (a form of psycho-spiritual healing that combines the sacred with the mind).

Furthermore, the Metaphysical Film Festival has a distinctive edge as Cobelo, who channels spirits, counts Zarathustra (the originator of Zoroastrianism) and Mother Mary as guiding spirits who communicate energetically with her about the festival. "[Mother Mary's] energy is around me all the time" Cobelo says. Top that Sundance!

"But we want to be taken seriously by the film world, too," Cobelo says. To this end, she and her daughter, Sophie Rousmaniere, a social-issue filmmaker who teams up with her mother as administrative director of the fest, had a panel of filmmakers and film-aficionados jury the films, which, Cobelo assures, are high-quality and cutting-edge.

Interesting looking entries include short film The Miracle, about the reminiscences of a little person named Tekki Lomnicki and The Big Question, a film that explores forgiveness and features Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra and Thich Nhat Hanh.

The Metaphysical Film Festival might be a little, er, eccentric, but, truth-be-told, it sounds like a blast.

"These films will stretch your mind and open your heart," Cobelo says. "They'll help us to realize that there's a world beyond what we normally see, feel and hear."

In this time when Western science and self-as-life-project liberalism have failed to give many people a larger sense of meaning and purpose, there's only one thing to say about such a venture: Praise The Universal Spirit!

Metaphysical Film Festival
Times vary, Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 18-21
See website for details
Party passes $10
Movie passes $12
All-access pass $325

Scottish Rite Temple
463 Paseo De Peralta. 505-984-0272
Runtimes and ratings vary