Of all the emotions conjured up watching Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, the one that perhaps surprises most critics is just how optimistic it is for a documentary.

“(Documentary filmmakers) have a tendency to really look at things that are going wrong in the world,” said director Velcrow Ripper.

“But I always feel like every film has a responsibility to offer us hope because I think we need it so much. I really consider that my responsibility as a filmmaker.”

In the thought-provoking movie (in theatres next Friday), Ripper travels the globe searching for the link between activism and spirituality.

It’s a touching journey that takes him from a celebrity-endorsed sit-in at the dismantling of an urban farm in L.A. to the historic return visit of exiled Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh to the South African birthplace of “soul force” — Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy of activism.

“For some people the film has actually been life changing,” said Ripper, adding that while the film may be optimistic, the audience must earn that sense.

“There are times when the whole audience is in tears during the film and then we bring them out through the other side and give a lot of people a direct taste of soul force.

“To be a documentary filmmaker you have to love humanity, you have to love the planet, you have to have a great sense of curiosity and I never feel like its work for me,” said Ripper. “It’s always an exciting adventure.”