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Looking for answers

“Surviving Death: A Paranormal Debate” debuts on iTunes and Amazon Oct. 8. Photo Courtesy/BJ Barretta
It's fitting that BJ Barretta's soon- to-be released documentary pits real world against spiritual world.

Although the Potomac Falls filmmaker admits he's a believer in the unknown, he has his Catholic upbringing that brings out his skeptic.

This tug-of-war prompted him to produce the 27-minute documentary “Surviving Death: A Paranormal Debate,” which will debut Oct. 8 on iTunes and Amazon.

“ … My mom is a professional astrologer and I went to Catholic school all my life … so ghosts and consciousness and life after death and the afterlife, having two very different view points as a kid was kind of the inspiration. Plus, the fact that I went to make a topical and relevant documentary and paranormal was hot at the time and still is hot,” Barretta said.

“In my opinion, there is no answers or conclusive evidence. It just depends on whatever point of view you prefer,” he added. “I wanted to take an honest, balanced approach so there's no agenda. It doesn't pit one side against another.”

The documentary examines the paranormal topics of psychic communication and the ability to connect with humans in the afterlife from various lenses: scientific, parapsychologic, theologic and entertainment. The film opens with the backdrop of a ghost hunt, beginning with television ghost hunter Richard Felix of TV's “Most Haunted” leading a seance at Philadelphia's notoriously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary.

Barretta, in the film, also interviews Dr. Nathan Harshman, the physics department chair at American University in Washington, D.C., to explain paranormal activities.

“A lot of people use quantum physics now to try to explain the paranormal ...” Barretta said.

Barretta is no stranger to film. He's an award-winning producer, director and editor with experience in television, music videos and industrial training videos.
In 2010, he enrolled in American University's School of Communication to begin his master's in film and television producing.

“Surviving Death: A Paranormal Debate” is part of his thesis.

But the film is more than that, Barretta said.

It's a personal exploration that as a child he was confronted with on a daily basis.

“My conclusion is that people do have experiences, whether it be ghost, intuition, a psychic feeling … but depending on your point of view, it can be explained as a message from God, or God answering a prayer or a psychic experience or your roof settling. Everybody has their own kind of take on it,” Barretta said.

For more on this film, visit http://www.survivingdeathdebate.com.


I personally don’t want to know what’s in my present before I open it, just as I’ll find out what happens after death when it happens.  I’m not in a hurry to open my death present just yet.

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