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“The Buddha” to air on PBS

Filmmaker David Grubin’s award-winning documentary, The Buddha, narrated by Richard Gere, will air on PBS on April 7 at 7 p.m. CST.

The Buddha tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. The film features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia have depicted the Buddha’s life in art that is rich in both beauty and complexity. The program offers insights into ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as it offers insights into meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

The film includes segments with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, poets Jane Hirschfield and W.S. Merwin, scholars Robert Thurman, Kevin Trainor and Dr. Max Moerman; astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan; and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, as well as practicing Buddhist monastics.

Grubin, citing increased awareness of and involvement with Buddhism in America, said his film explores the mysteries of Buddha and the faith that is now practiced in every corner of the world.


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Little Buddha I have some personal interest in this one. One of my first teachers was a consultant for the Tibetan Buddhist authenticity. His wisdom was completely jettisoned in favour of pandering t

You can watch here on

Documentary about Bikkhuni in Thailand.

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Here a two links concerning funeral rituals in Buddhism. It's an international project of the University of Bristol with support of a Taiwan Buddhist University, the University of Hambourg and the University of Atlanta (US)


This movie is part of the PHD Thesis of my son. Ceremonies never documented before, may be in ten years they disappear.


Share the mudita of a father with me and have a look.

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A round-up of Buddhist movies:

Cinema of spirituality: Buddhism in films

The visual elegance of Bernardo Bertolucchi’s Little Buddha (1993), the spiritual austerity of Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997) and the transformative power of Pan Nalin’s Samsara (2001) show how richly Buddhism can translate to film.

Peace maker Poster of Ritu and Sonam’s ‘The Sun Behind the Clouds.’These films convincingly, even ravishingly, capture qualities essential to a Buddhist-themed cinema: Silence, suffering, contemplation, poetry and mindfulness. The characters in these films undergo various kinds of intense spiritual struggle. Spirituality as a theme in cinema is rare. It is often forsaken for more ‘exciting’ themes — sexuality, violence, romance, family melodrama. If the spiritual, the mystical are present at all, they are present only as subplots; minor themes in the background.

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A Buddhist monk who channels Leonard Cohen

'Abraxsas Festival' is a new movie that offers insight into Japan's Buddhist revival

Until recent years, Japanese zen has remained pretty much where it's always been -- inside a temple or between the pages of a Buddhist prayer book.


But with the bad economy and seemingly some of the worst politicians this nation has ever seen, is it any wonder that many people, especially those under 40, have lately been re-examining Buddhism in a new light?

A slice of insight into this trend is a movie called "Abraxsas Festival (Abraxsas no Matsuri)," starring comedian Suneo Hair, and iconic actress Rie Tomosaka.

Suneo Hair plays Jonen, a reluctant zen monk who winds up in black and white robes because his father deems it so. In Japan, the temple business is a family business.

The position of the head monk is passed from father to son, and it's a usually an ultra-cushy affair, padded with major tax breaks and temple land ownership. But Jonen is a pill-popping depressive who dreams of being the Japanese Leonard Cohen.

"Hallelujiah" is his thing, not zen.

Zen: Escape hatch or antidote?

"Abraxsas Festival" is directed by Naoki Kato -- a disciple of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director of "Cure" -- and based on the novel by Akutagawa award-winning zen monk Genyu Sokyu.

The 52-year old Genyu has more than 20 publications to his name and is one of the pioneering influences that has brought zen Buddhism to the common people.

Genyu is the first modern monk to publicly say that zen can be an antidote to the woes of modern living -- up until now, most Japanese temples and sects had offered Buddhism as a way to elevate the spirit and discipline the body.

None had linked it outright to the realities of daily life.




[ This is the whole problem! ]

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Punk rock meets Buddhism in exquisite feature bow

2:10am EST

By James Greenberg

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - The idea of a Buddhist monk who is a punk rocker seems impossibly incongruous, and that's how his parishioners in a small Japanese town feel about it.

But Jonen is no ordinary monk. He is a sensitive and troubled soul trying to silence the noise within. "Abraxas," Naoki Kato's exquisitely crafted debut feature, is that rare spiritual film that is funny and moving without being stuffy. Years ago, it would have been the kind of film that played well in art houses, but today, like Jonen, it will have to search to find its place.

At the center of the film is a wonderful and warm performance by Japanese rock star Suneohair as Jonen. In his younger days, as we see in the opening moments, Jonen thrashed around the stage, violently swinging his guitar, falling over himself. But that was then, now he has a shaved head and has traded his torn T-shirt for a monk's robe.

As the film begins, Jonen has been sent to speak at a career day at a local high school. Popping anti-depressants before he goes on stage, he freezes in the spotlight and starts speaking in disconnected, abstract concepts. "A shrimp molts its entire life," he tells the baffled students before racing to the piano and banging out a few dissident chords.

This is not his first breakdown, having attempted suicide some years earlier. But this episode makes him the laughing stock of the town and throws him into a deep depression. Even the love of his wife Tae (Rie Tomosaka) and their darling five-year-old son can't save him. Finally, with the support of the wise senior monk Genshu (Kaoru Kobayashi) and the reluctant approval of his wife, Jonen decides he must make music again. He visits his old haunt in Tokyo, but it doesn't feel right and he realizes he must perform in town.

No one thinks this is a great idea, but Jonen is energized and plasters the town with posters announcing his performance at a karaoke bar. When Genshu asks if he's ready, he says he has "no idea." He's still battling his demons, trying to figure out what to do with the sounds in his head, and when one of his only friends hangs himself, he is thrown deeper into despair. He packs his guitar and takes off, leaving no word for his frantic wife.

In perhaps the most visually stunning scene (shot by Ryuto Kondo), in a film filled with them, Jonen finds himself on the beach. With the waves crashing and splashing, he sets up his amp up on a rock and begins wailing into the abyss, saying to the universe, "Let's duel." He's a guy with lots of karma to burn, burdened with years of suffering and family guilt. The waves knock him down, but he gets up again.

Back in town, the karaoke bar has withdrawn its invitation, and the only solution is to perform at the temple. Building a stage, setting up the amps, and greeting his black-clad musician friends are the kind of humorous, playful moments the film employs throughout. As the big day approaches, Jonen's wife requests only that he doesn't take all his clothes off.

In an ambling way, Kato has set up considerable tension about the show. What's going to happen? Will Jonen make a fool of himself? When he starts off with an acoustic song with beautiful lyrics, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Hours later, by the time he is half-dressed and intensely rolling around the stage, he has found himself as a man and as a monk.

Kato actually makes interesting use of music throughout, choosing to use a non-Japanese soundtrack by Yoshihide Otomo featuring an understated guitar and banjo. But after Jonen's struggle, the most transcendent musical moment is him singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in Japanese and English over the closing credits. Interestingly, and unbeknownst to the director, Cohen himself had studied to be a Buddhist monk. He would be happy to be in this beautiful film.


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Here are two interesting articles on the treatment of monks in movies - mostly Thai related movies.

Monks in the movies

Whether saints or sinners, tough guys or buffoons, the men in saffron remain a staple of siamese cinema


Justin McDaniel

The Emotional Lives of Buddhist Monks in Modern Thai Film

Journal of Religion and Film

Vol. 14, No. 2 October 2010



Edited by bankei
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Babes, booze and Buddhism

Film explores the atypical lifestyle of Naropa founder

Of all the films featured at the 2011 Boulder International Film Festival, the most Boulder-centric is Crazy Wisdom. The 90-minute documentary is Los Angeles filmmaker Johanna Demetrakas’ stunning tribute to the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Tibetan Buddhist who founded Naropa University in 1974.


Watching Crazy Wisdom in Boulder recently with a gathering of current and former Naropa students, it was obvious that Demetrakas succeeded in not only delineating Trungpa’s fascinating escape from Chinese tyranny in Tibet and the meat of his “Shambhala” vision — a peaceful, mindful community amid a dangerously chaotic world — but also what it was like to know “the bad boy of Buddhism” personally. For Naropa students, who are fed a PC version of Trungpa’s life — which notoriously included excessive drinking and sex — Demetrakas’ unflinching portrayal of her former spiritual guide is refreshing.

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Never Give Up

Directed by Fernanda Rivero and James Gritz, Never Give Up: Karmapa 17 is a documentary film being made about, as Barry Boyce described him in his January 2010 Shambhala Sun cover story, “the third most important spiritual leader in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, and the one who may carry that tradition forward in the twenty-first century.” The films also centers on “the Kagyu Monlam prayer festival and three women inspired by the Karmapa into social action in Bodhgaya India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment.” Here’s the trailer for Never Give Up: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/watch-trailer-%E2%80%9Cnever-give-up%E2%80%9D-new-film-about-ogyen-trinley-dorje-17th-karmapa

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Wow....what an interesting thread. Looks like Buddhism is getting to occupy even more of my time now :)

This thread is not just about Thai Buddhism movie...my understanding.

I like to ask you guys about this movie named Mekong......something I have seen some years back not too long ago. I am sure you will know which I am refering to. The story is about the naga fireballs in the mekong river. The movie opens with many people going for the annual event to watch the fireballs and the among them is a young guy or reporter and the rest of the movie is about the guy discovering the mystery of the fireballs and it's revealed at the end that the fireballs are not natural but planted by the monk/s annulaly.The cover/poster has the picture of a monk and a young guy/boy ? holding a shing ball if I am not wrong.

Can someone explain this movie to me ? My understanding of this fireballs is no one knows what or who caused it. How come this movie showed it in such manner ?

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