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Psychics Exercise Healing Powers In CPH:DOX Film ‘Look Into My Eyes’

The psychics in Look Into My Eyes claim to communicate with the departed, passing messages to their loved ones among the living. Whether that’s true or not must remain a matter of speculation, but one thing can be said with certainty: the documentary has passed into another world – from the snows of Sundance to the edges of the Øresund in Copenhagen.

Director Lana Wilson brought her film to CPH:DOX festival in the Danish capital for its international premiere.

“It’s about a group of New York City psychics who conduct deeply intimate readings with their clients,” the director explained to us at Sundance. “And at the beginning of the film, we’re plunged into the sessions, but over the course of the film, we get to know the psychics. We learn about their shared backgrounds in the performing arts in many cases, their shared experiences with loss and loneliness. And, ultimately, it’s a film about how we as humans need witnesses in order to better see ourselves.”

Director Lana Wilson at the Deadline Portrait Studio during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Michael Buckner for Deadline

Wilson said the film stemmed from her own impromptu psychic reading in 2016.

“It actually happened the day after Trump’s election. I was depressed, sad, horrified, really concerned about the future in the most literal sense,” she recalled. “I’d never been to a psychic before and I’d been filming election night in Atlantic City, and I was waiting that morning for my ride to go back to New York City where I’ve lived for 20 years. And I just saw a sign that said $5 psychic readings. And without even thinking, I walked in, and I pulled back this curtain… I sat down and immediately felt incredibly emotional and I had this sensation that I was looking in a mirror with this sudden clarity at my own heartbroken, devastated state. And that was really powerful to me. And then the psychic came in and gave me a reading and I felt comforted.”

Director Lana Wilson attends the

Director Lana Wilson at Sundance.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

At the end of that encounter, the psychic asked Wilson what she did for a living. She explained she was a filmmaker, working on a documentary about “a punk rocker-turned-priest who helps counsel suicidal people. And the psychic said, ‘Sounds like my life.’ And I said, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘People come in here with such serious situations, at real crossroads in their lives, you would never imagine.’ And I was so surprised to hear that. And that was a lightbulb moment for me where I thought, wouldn’t it be incredible to have a film where you get to be inside these conversations and see this wash of humanity come through these rooms?”

The gift of the psychics in Look Into My Eyes isn’t to read tea leaves, tarot cards, palms, crystal balls, reveal the netherworld of the dead or peer into the future, but really to listen deeply and to observe.

“I would absolutely say they’re empaths,” Wilson said, adding that while they purport to “connect with dead people… I can’t tell you if dead grandma is in the room or not. I have no idea. We can’t all agree on what happens in the afterlife, if there is an afterlife. Those are not answers I have. But what I saw in the rooms was two people having a deep connection and either connecting to something outside of themselves or connecting in their imagination to something that was healing.”

One of the psychics in the documentary specializes in communing with animals – either pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge or have simply gone missing.

“There’s a lot of humor in the film in general. I hope people will laugh watching it. There’s a lot of wackiness and weirdness, and some of my favorite scenes are with the pet psychic,” Wilson said. “There’s someone who’s asking [the psychic] about his lizard, who a zookeeper has absconded to New Jersey with, and he has not heard from the lizard, who’s named Bobby Jr. And he wants to know, ‘Is my lizard happy and should I go to New Jersey and try to rescue the lizard?’ To my surprise, the psychic said no to both of those questions. It was not what the client wanted to hear. I found it very interesting because it was kind of an acknowledgement of what happens when you say goodbye to people, to relationships, you have to move on and let it go. But at the same time the emotional relationship, the connection, the impact that a person or an animal that’s gone still has on you is real.”

Psychic Annasophia

Psychic Annasophia

CPH:DOX/Photo by Hedda Rysstad

A24 is behind the documentary. Dogwoof has come on board to handle worldwide sales. The film made its international premiere Monday night at CPH:DOX and will screen again on Friday. The festival describes the March 22 showing as a “spiritual evening with a little peak into the future!”

The CPH:DOX program notes, “After the screening, you can dive even deeper into the spiritual universe when you can draw an oracle card with Annasophia in Big Bio’s cozy foyer and café and get help deciphering the cards. What might the future hold?”

For Wilson and the documentary, that future presumably includes theatrical distribution for Look Into My Eyes and, who knows (other than a psychic), maybe a successful awards run.

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