Films was started in 1971 by founder Elda E. Hartley. Elda
and Irving Hartley made newsreels and travel films from
the 1930s through the 1960s. Some of the images that now
illustrate American history were shot by Irving Hartley,
including the explosion of the Hindenburg zeppelin in
1937. He and Elda also produced a series of Pan Am
travelogues, a prototype for travel shows on television
worked as North Carolina State’s Director of Visual
Education and in the 1930s she helped found the
Documentary Film Association, which exhibited at the first
New York World's Fair.
vision of the future foundation began in 1965, while on a
vacation tour to Japan with Alan Watts. She decided to
make a film on Zen, and Alan Watts volunteered to narrate
the film. At the age of fifty-six, Elda Hartley was on her
way to producing documentary films on world religions and
spirituality–the beginning of her third career.
completed films about the world's spiritual and religious
traditions, including documentaries such as Requiem for a Faith and The
Sufi Way, and collaborated with Margaret Mead, Joseph
Campbell, Edgar Mitchell, Jean Houston, Ram Dass, Alan
Watts, Huston Smith and Larry Dossey, among others.
often said that the goal of her work was greater than
simply making films. She died on her 90th birthday, March
6, 2001. After her death, Hartley Films returned the video
masters and copyrights to the Smith Family, who allowed
them to be viewed on these official Huston Smith websites.