Online Buddhist Film Festival

The Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar in partnership with the Buddhist Film Foundation will present an online Film Festival comprising six Buddhist films and six Buddhist (sangha) talks. The Online Film Festival will run from June 12 until July 23.


Lion’s Roar has partnered with BuddhaFest again this year to bring you this special opportunity to view Buddhist-themed and Buddhist-inspired cinema. Six films are featured, ranging from the dramatic feature Wandering to the documentary on China’s most austere and revered Zen communities, One Mind. Festival ticket holders can watch on-demand all 6 films and all 6 talks, anytime anywhere for 6 weeks – June 12 to July 23.

A Thousand Mothers

Directed by Kim Shelton
Myanmar, USA / 2017 / English / 39 min / Documentary

Filmed on location at a rural Buddhist nunnery in Myanmar by noted cinematographer Kirsten Johnson, A Thousand Mothers is an intimate look at the refuge and opportunity that a monastic life offers girls and women there, even as the nation begins to change.



Don’t Know

Directed by Fabio Dondero and Chiaro Somajni
Germany / 2017 / English / 57 min / Documentary

This film offers a unique look at the Korean Zen tradition through the work and life drama of Master Wu Bong, a European teacher in the Kwam Um School of Zen. A key teaching is cultivating an intimate, profound “not knowing” as a crucial state of mind, which opens up the space for one to become fully aware, and therefore fully human. “A big ‘aha!’ one time before death is very important; that’s what Zen is about.” The final objective is to devote oneself to help others.



Tzu Chi: Doing Good in the World

Directed by Babeth VanLoo
Netherlands, Taiwan / 2017 / English, and Taiwanese with English subtitles / 88 min plus discussion / Documentary

Tzu Chi is a remarkable nonprofit in Taiwan that runs hospitals, schools, recycling services, and emergency humanitarian aid efforts. The blue-jacketed Tzu Chi volunteers may be seen at disaster sites like earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods all over the world. The organization is led by an extraordinary woman, Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun who began single-handedly by reaching out to neighbors to help offer health services where they were lacking in post war Taiwan. This film introduces us to her and takes us behind the scenes to explore a unique approach to living a compassionate, engaged life.



One Mind

Directed by Edward A. Burger
USA, China / 2016 / Mandarin with English subtitles / 78 min / Documentary

One Mind is a rare cinematic portrait of life inside one of China’s most austere and revered Zen communities. The monks at Zhenru Chan Monastery continue to uphold a strict monastic code established over 1,200 years ago by the founding patriarchs of Zen in China. In harmony with the land that sustains them, the monks operate an organic farm, grow tea, and harvest bamboo to fuel their kitchen fires. At the heart of this community, a group of cloistered meditators sit in silence for eight hours every day. Suggesting a Zen version of the critically acclaimed film Into Great Silence, One Mind offers an intimate glimpse into a thriving Buddhist monastery in modern China.




Directed by Boonsong Nakphoo
Thailand / 2016 / Thai with English subtitles / 120 min / Drama

Former Thai Buddhist monk Boonsong’s film Wandering was a finalist for consideration as Thailand’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and features a small cast of nonprofessionals. Set in a rural area, the film follows a man, depressed after a tragedy and separated from his wife, as he slowly engages with a forest monk and begins to rebuild a life. Beautifully filmed on location in Thailand by cinematographer Uruphong Raksasat, Wandering is infused with a deep regard for Buddhist teachings, and never loses sight of the humanity and individuality of the search for peace




Directed by Yan Chun Su
USA / 2017 / Tibetan with English subtitles / 79 min / Documentary

This is an intimate portrait of the lives and struggles of Tibetan nomads, known as Drokpa, who are on the cusp of irreversible change on the Tibetan plateau. The grasslands there are home to the source of Asia’s major rivers, and nearly half of humanity depends on this water for survival. In recent decades, these once lush areas are rapidly turning into deserts. With rare access to an extended nomadic family, relationships are richly observed, especially those of Tamku, a teenage single mother, Dhongya, a senior nomad and Yithan, a mother of two boys. U.S.-based filmmaker Yan Chun Sun has previously worked with legendary Bay Area filmmaker Les Blank, and has created a compelling experience of another world.



There are also six talks given by speakers associated with Lion’s Roar: Sharon Salzberg–Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection; Noah Levine–Against the Stream: Buddhism as Rebellion; Ani Choying Drolma and Dawa Tarchin Phillips in Conversation–The Power and Beauty of Awakening in Modern Times; Mushim Patricia Ikeda–Healing the Divide: Diversity, Compassion and Interconnection; Christiane Wolf–Integrity: Respecting and Living in Accordance with Our Core Values; Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche–Working with the Emotional Mind: How to Change the World from Within.

You can read more and book to participate in the Online Buddhist Film Festival here.


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