The New Yorker


"Mind-bending...mesmerizing...intensely personal...nothing can quite prepare you for the experience."
Alex Ross
music critic, The New Yorker


"Stunning...Perhaps the finest film ever made on how people experience music, and one of the best-crafted and most moving documentaries in a very long time."
The Chicago Sun-Times


"A knock-out Messiaen-on-acid documentary."
The Year in Review (2008)
Chicago Sun-Times music critic Andrew Patner

The Chicago Tribune
"A remarkable film...highly, highly recommended."
98.7WFMT, Chicago
"May be the best description of the Messiaen effect on record...circles around the mystery of music and subjectivity and touches down on a head-spinning array of topics...a bravura performance, not to be missed."
The Village Voice
"Marvelous, moving, amusing, intelligent."
Nathan Lee
film critic, The Village Voice

"Provocative...a fascinating portrait of how people listen to music and what they imagine."
Pipedreams, American Public Media


"Entirely absorbing, moving – sublime, even. From invocations of religious imagery and howls of pain, to ecstasies of both the divine and the sexual, the immediate responses to the music are consistently hilarious, intelligent and primal."
The Globe and Mail, Canada

"An absolutely wonderful movie... How many great lines there are - I stopped counting halfway through."
David Weininger
music critic, The Boston Globe
"Fascinating...unique...Festa is investigating a key question about musical aesthetics, and he has invented a methodology to study it which provides very illuminating results. His brilliant use of editing, and his skill as an interviewer, allow the viewer to have many insights into the varieties of musical experience."
Film Threat

"Takes the documentary to a new and more intriguing level... wickedly funny...the interview subjects are among the most extraordinary I have ever seen or heard in a documentary."
The Mobile Press-Register


"Apparition of The Eternal Church will blow your mind! The suspense will kill you... I was utterly blown away when I reviewed the DVD."
San Francisco Bay Times



The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco
"A wonderful film."
88.5 KCSN Arts and Roots Radio, Los Angeles

"One of the best music films I've ever seen."
Karl Bartos
founder of Kraftwerk
professor, Berlin University of the Arts

"Extremely thought-provoking...an extraordinary exercise in musical phenomenology... The film’s genius lies in its portrayal of the capacity of Messiaen’s music, and by extension any music, to affect human consciousness at an extremely deep level... Undeniably gripping, at times hilariously funny, at others highly disturbing...ranks as one of the most penetrating studies of the nature of musical phenomena that I have ever seen."
Peter Bannister
Da stand das Meer
The Taos News
"Astonishing - a marvel."
Ronnie Gilbert
The Weavers

“One of the most spellbinding films
I have seen in my long life.”
Ann Hicks
arts reporter, The Greenville News


"Apparition is one of the best art works I've encountered about what happens when we listen to music. It is a fearless, generous, intelligent, and beautifully crafted essay on perception."
Rob Bailis
director, ODC Theater

"A rare event...remarkable...provocative... unusual in every way."
The American Organist

"People just could not stop talking about it."
Wm. Brian Owens
director, Indianapolis International Film Festival

"Apparition of the Eternal Church was one of my primary inspirations to start Why We Listen...It's a really moving film and I recommend it very, very highly."
Marc Kate
Why We Listen: Three Songs and Many Questions


"A genuinely sublime documentary...an orgy of imagination... some of the best stuff I've seen all year."
The Reeler, New York


"The movie demonstrated, like no other I have seen (and in a truly original way), the primal power that music can exert on the human psyche... For anyone interested in music, it's a film not to be missed."
Ed Hamilton
The Hotel Chelsea Blog, New York


"An absorbing and exhilarating film about the power of music."


"A highlight of the festival."
Jane Sullivan
director, Santa Cruz Film Festival


"A life-changing experience."
Santa Cruz Film Festival audience member


"One of the most outstanding films on religious experience, theology and church I have ever seen."
Dr. Christian M. Rutishauser
program director
Lassalle-House Bad Schönbrunn


"One of the most amazing musical/artistic/ religious experiences of my life."
Rev. Prof. Stephen Schloesser
Boston College


"From time to time, we get an iconic picture of Grace Cathedral as a public religious institution like no other. One such moment was a recent Friday night when we hosted the San Francisco premiere of documentary filmmaker Paul Festa’s Apparition of the Eternal Church...."
The Rev. Cn. Mary E. Haddad, Canon Pastor, Grace Cathedral


"I am speechless.  What brilliance!  How in the world did you get those people to connect so deeply, so authentically, and express it so powerfully?  It almost didn't matter, as a viewer, what the music was. It was the human experience of watching these people have a human experience! Your brilliant film seemed to bypass my intellect and touch me on a much deeper, disturbingly beautiful, sensual level."
Mirabai Starr, editor
Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Michael, The Archangel


"I rarely see anything so thought-provoking. It was like hanging out with super-smart people for an evening and just listening to them talk and soaking it up....I found myself falling in love with a lot of them....I was as if the music allowed them to be honest and transparent in a way I don't generally see. As a Christian, coming from a very pro-church background, I loved hearing what people from a completely different world thought. I was blown away....
Go see the movie. It's amazing."

"See this film! You'll never listen to music the same way again."
David Dawson