2012 FILMS & TALKS
Opening Night Film
Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 pm
111 Minutes plus opening ceremony & program and director Q & A
Have you ever faked a restroom trip to check your email? Slept with your laptop? Or become so overwhelmed that you just unplugged from it all? In this funny, eye-opening and inspiring film, director Tiffany Shlain investigates what it means to be connected in the 21st century. From founding the Webby Awards to being a passionate advocate for The National Day of Unplugging, Shlain’s love/hate relationship with technology serves as the springboard for a thrilling exploration of modern life…and our interconnected future.
CONNECTED premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Equal parts documentary and memoir, the film unfolds during a year in which technology and science literally become a matter of life and death for the director. Using a brilliant mix of animation, archival footage, and home movies, Shlain reveals the surprising ties that link us not only to the people we love, but also to the world at large.
Director Tiffany Shlain joins us via Skype to take questions from the audience.
BUDDHA’S LOST CHILDREN
Friday, June 15 at 9 pm 97 Minutes
Winner Best Spiritual Film and Best Spiritual Documentary at the 2009 European Film Festival in Paris"Living is an art to be learned."
-- Phra Khru Bah, Buddhist monk
This is a breathtaking true story of compassion in action, as an extraordinary Thai monk helps transform neglected village boys into self-confident novices. With its stunning cinematography and powerful story-telling, this film has won many awards at film festivals around the world. Be prepared to have your heart opened.
BUDDHA’S LOST CHILDREN covers a year in the life of a small, roving monastic community, and it captures the struggle of forgotten young souls at the edge of Thai society. In the borderlands of Thailand's Golden Triangle, a rugged region known for its drug smuggling and impoverished hill tribes, one man devotes himself to the welfare of the region's children.
A former Thai boxer turned Buddhist monk, Phra Khru Bah travels widely on horseback, fearlessly dispensing prayers and tough-love. For many boys, this is the first time that they have been given the freedom to simply be children. Paradoxically, by being allowed to be children, the boys discover the key to maturing as individuals, and they do so in the care of this fierce and compassionate monk who dedicates himself to giving them the basic skills needed for a decent start in life.
Director Mark Verkerk explains: “The film also explores the nature of compassion, and what it means to actually live by it. I wanted to find out how it worked, record the mechanics of it in action. In the West, compassion is often seen as a weakness, as something passive and debilitating. But to Khru Bah — a Rambo in robes who shattered for me the stereotype of the navel-gazing monk — it has become the basis for action.”
This story has the potential to change the way many people think about Buddhism in the West, where it is still often seen as promoting a purely passive, contemplative attitude towards life. This view of Buddhism is sometimes mistakenly thought to lead to detachment, and even indifference, to the problems of the material world.
Yet Khru Bah’s example clearly shows otherwise. He has translated the Buddhist ideals of infinite compassion and unconditional love into action, illustrating the principle of engaged Buddhism -- which is now flowering in the West and around the world.
This is a story of courage, love and sacrifice. It explores a powerful example of the struggle between ancient spiritual wisdom and the materialism of the modern world.
Saturday, June 16 at 12 Noon 96 Minutes
We pick up on our opening night theme of connectedness with BARAKA, an extraordinary jewel of a film. It's a guided meditation on the interdependence of all life, and it's probably unlike anything you've ever seen before. Named after a Sufi word that translates roughly as "breath of life" or "blessing," BARAKA is director Ron Fricke’s impressive follow-up to Godfrey Reggio’s iconic KOYAANISQATSI. Fricke was cinematographer and collaborator on Reggio’s film, and for BARAKA he struck out on his own to polish and expand his photographic techniques.
The result is a tour-de-force that Fricke describes as a cinematic guided meditation, a film in which we are invited to consider humanity’s relation to the eternal. Shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period, BARAKA unites religious ritual, the phenomena of nature, and man’s own destructive powers into a web of riveting moving images, all set to a beautiful musical score. Hal Hinson of the Washington Post raves: “Watching BARAKA, a nonverbal symphony of exquisite images, you experience a feeling of intense empowerment. As one spectacular image follows another, nearly every one lucid and sharp and magnificent, you feel as if you can go anywhere and see anything...nothing in this epic visual poem is less than extraordinary.”
Fricke’s camera takes us, in meditative slow motion or bewildering time-lapse, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Ryoan-Ji temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smoldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, tribal celebrations of the Masai in Kenya, chanting monks in the Dip Tse Chok Ling monastery…and on and on, through locales across the globe. To execute the film’s time-lapse sequences, Fricke had a special camera built that combined time-lapse photography with perfectly controlled movements.
Hal Hinson of the Washington Post continues: “The film allows us to see the actual interconnectedness of all things in the world, and to appreciate its patterns and symmetries, and its innate sense of balance and proportion. Fricke has said that BARAKA was intended to be ‘a journey of rediscovery that plunges into nature, into history, into the human spirit, and finally into the realm of the infinite.’ And miraculously, his bold intentions were realized.”
WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES
Saturday, June 16 at 3 pm 104 Minutes
plus Tsoknyi Rinpoche talk and meditationand director Q&A
The much-awaited film from Victress Hitchcock, the acclaimed director who brought us BLESSINGS, is finally here.
We are very pleased to present a sneak preview of this much-awaited film from Victress Hitchcock, the acclaimed director who brought us BLESSINGS.
In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet. With his departure, and the exodus of many of the major teachers of all the sects of Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhadharma -- as it was practiced in virtual seclusion for centuries in the Land of Snow -- was suddenly thrust out into the world. Fifty years later there are Tibetan Buddhist meditation centers in every major city in the western world, two 3-year retreat centers in France alone, and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, has 92,000 followers on Twitter.
WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES traces the astounding path of one of the world’s great spiritual traditions, from the caves of Tibet to the mainstream of western culture, and asks: In these incredibly chaotic, modern times, can these age old teachings help us find genuine happiness -- and create a saner, more compassionate 21st century world?
Director Victress Hitchcock and Co-Producer Amber Bemak will be present to take questions from the audience.
BODHISATTVA Buy Tickets
East Coast Premiere
Sunday, June 16 at 2:45 pm 70 Minutes + "The Way of Shambhala" talk and meditationand director Q & A
BuddhaFest is very pleased to present the new film, BODHISATTVA - THE JOURNEY OF THE SEVENTEENTH GYALWA KARMAPA. This is only the third public screening of the film anywhere in the world. BODHISATTVA is a rare look at the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, one of the most important Lamas in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. Many view him as the natural successor to the Dalai Lama, and the face of Tibetan Buddhism for a new generation. The film follows this young man of extraordinary warmth, humanity and charisma as he embarks on his first tour of the United States -- where he speaks to packed auditoriums and delights in encountering this new world of the West.
"He's a young man who wants to explore the world," says director Mark Elliott. "I tried to capture his journey of encountering the West, encountering new minds, encountering new ideas, and opening up to a new reality."
The film interweaves the tour with superb archival footage of the Karmapa’s childhood in Tibet, sequences in Bodhgaya and Dharamsala, India, and film of the previous, Sixteenth, Karmapa.
BODHISATTVA shows us "this extraordinary young being of infinite promise," says Elliott. "I'd like people to have a direct experience through the film of this wonderful young being who actually holds a great hope."
Director Mark Elliott, who also directed THE LION’S ROAR, the seminal film on the Sixteenth Karmapa, will be present to take questions from the audience
RAM DASS: FIERCE GRACE
Sunday, June 17 at 7 pm 93 Minutes
+ Closing Night program and director Q & A
This film is part of our closing night program, "The Power of Grace - A Tribute to Ram Dass." Krishna Das leads the evening, and Ram Dass makes a rare appearance live via Skype from his home in Maui.
"When I first met Ram Dass 25 years ago," says director Mickey Lemle, "one of his messages that touched me was that we are both human and divine -- and that we must hold both simultaneously. He would explain that if one goes too far in the direction of one's humanity, one suffers. If one goes too far in the direction of one's divinity, one runs the risk of forgetting one's zip code. So his stories and teachings were funny, self-effacing, and with an extraordinary grasp of the metaphysical. In form and content his stories are about living on those two planes of consciousness, and the tension between them. His explorations took an uninvited turn, when he suffered a massive stroke. Now, he has been forced to live his teachings in a way he had not expected.”
This is an intimate portrait of Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), the ‘60s guru, spiritual teacher, cohort of Timothy Leary, and author of "Be Here Now," one of the most influential books of the 1970s. With humor, warmth and intelligence, this film tells the remarkable story of a life that has become a testament to faith.
Enhanced by the music of Krishna Das, the documentary is much more than a bio-pic or a meditation on the process of aging . It is an inspiring look at a man whose life can be summed up in one word -- service. "What one person has to offer to another is their own being, nothing more, nothing less," he says.
The film begins as Ram Dass confronts the effects of a massive stroke in 1997 that left him physically incapacitated, with impaired memory and speech. Interweaving conversations with Ram Dass, interviews with people who know him, and archival footage, the film chronicles his fascinating journey through life: childhood, the controversy surrounding his research on psychedelics with Timothy Leary at Harvard, his studies in India with Neem Karoli Baba, (Maharaj-ji), who renamed him Baba Ram Dass (Servant of God), his work with the Seva Foundation in social action projects dedicated to relieving suffering in the world, and his impact as an author and guru to millions of followers.
For Ram Dass, aging has become a gift. "I was galumphing through life before the stroke," he says. "I'm at peace now more than I've ever been. The peace comes from settling in to the moment."
This film gives us intriguing glimpses at the insights gleaned from a life of spiritual inquiry.
Director Mickey Lemle will be present to take questions from the audience.
The Alchemy of Transformation: Awakening Our Hearts, Healing Our World
Friday, June 15 at 7 pm
Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, Congressman Tim Ryan
This is a rare opportunity to see a leading dharma teacher and a U.S. congressman sit down and discuss mindfulness together.
Jonathan Foust begins this special evening by inviting us into an embodied presence. He leads a guided practice in mindful movement and breathing to support us in slowing down and being more present.
Tara Brach discusses the power that a mindfulness practice brings to freeing our hearts, and she shows how it can help bring intimacy and transformation to our closest relationships. Congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation, talks about the power that mindfulness has to transform our society. He is an outspoken advocate for using mindfulness to help solve some of the country's complex problems, and he discusses many of the exciting ways in which that's starting to be done.
Together, Tara and the Congressman also share personal experiences and answer questions from the audience.
Congressman Ryan joins us at 6 pm in the lobby for a meet and greet and book-signing.
Sacred Earth: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our Planet
Presented by BuddhaFest and the World Wildlife Fund
Saturday, June 16 at 10 am
1 Hour 45 Minutes
Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Sharon Salzberg, joined by Lou Leonard and Dekila Chungyulpa of WWF.
"Many people suffer deeply and they do not know they suffer. They try to cover up the suffering by being busy. Many people get sick today because they get alienated from Mother Earth. The practice of mindfulness helps us to touch Mother Earth inside of the body, and this practice can help heal people. So the healing of the people should go together with the healing of the Earth. This is the insight, and it is possible for anyone to practice."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
We have reached a critical juncture in our biological and social evolution. Many scientists have concluded that the survival of human civilization is at stake. There has never been a more important time in history to bring the resources of Buddhism to bear on behalf of all living beings.
Climate change is probably the greatest humanitarian and environmental challenge the world faces today. How can we as Buddhists positively contribute to slowing climate change and minimizing its impacts? Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Sharon Salzberg explore the vital role that compassion and awareness can play in helping us to awaken from our illusion of separateness from others -- and from the Earth.
Following their teaching, they are joined by Lou Leonard and Dekila Chungyulpa of the World Wildlife Fund. They discuss how Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas are responding to the threat of climate change, and practical ways that each of us can be part of the global solution.
We then each have an opportunity to sign a unique document that has emerged from the contributions of more than 20 Buddhist teachers from all traditions. It's called, "The Time to Act is Now - A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change." HH the Dalai Lama was the first to sign it, and this is how the declaration concludes:
"We have a brief window of opportunity to take action, to preserve humanity from imminent disaster, and to assist the survival of the many diverse and beautiful forms of life on Earth. Future generations, and the other species that share the biosphere with us, have no voice to ask for our compassion, wisdom, and leadership. We must listen to their silence. We must be their voice, too, and act on their behalf."
Happiness for No Reason: Awakening Essence Love
Saturday, June 16 at 2:15 pm
45 Minutes plus sneak preview of WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES
With his lively, humorous and insightful way of teaching the time tested and ever-relevant truths of dharma, Tsoknyi Rinpoche explores how we can uncover and nurture the basic spark of our Buddha nature amidst this speedy modern world and our active lives. Rinpoche’s talk and meditation set the stage for WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES.
Krishna Das in Concert
With Special Guests Tsoknyi Rinpoche & Sharon Salzberg
Saturday, June 17 at 8 pm
Devotion gives birth to an open-hearted and intelligent appreciation, both delight and gratitude, for the healing, compassionate nature of enlightened beings -- and for their constant blessings. Devotion also helps us with recognition and trust for what we naturally are -- for what our true identity is. Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Sharon Salzberg discuss the nature and power of devotion, then Krishna Das leads us in a stirring evening of kirtan.