Hartley 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 today.
Elda 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.
Elda's 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.
She 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.
Hartley often said that
the goal of her work was greater than simply making films.
She died on her 90th birthday, March 6, 2001.