Directed by Werner Penzel (Step Across the Border, Middle of the Moment)
Germany, Japan / English, Japanese, and German, with English subtitles / 100 min plus Q&A / Drama
Tucked away in the mountains on the west coast of Japan is the Zen Monastery Antaiji. A young woman from Switzerland leaves her job and her family behind and sets off to immerse herself in the adventure of monastic life from autumn to spring.
The title may be provocative, but this film is a masterful immersion into life at a Japanese Zen monastery over three seasons of a year. Swiss novice Sabine arrives at Antaiji in autumn, and after a brief welcome, the learning process of the monastery rules begins: how to bow; how to sit in the meditation hall on the pillow in front of the empty wall; how to carry out the individual movements with the chopsticks in connection with the three black painted wooden bowls; how to behave…
There’s more to life in the monastery than meditation and maintenance; there are picnics and music, and Wi-Fi. After the last snow has melted away, the new rice is planted, bamboo shoots are dug up in the forest and young shoots are cut. In May, the nuns and monks travel to Osaka where they recite sutras in front of subway entrances as they solicit offerings in their monk's robes. Quotes from renowned early 20th century Antaiji abbot Koda Sawaki are interjected throughout.
Simple, and beautifully filmed, this is Into Great Silence meets Enlightenment Guaranteed, with Fred Frith, composer (Rivers and Tides, Before Sunrise), performing the eclectic and elegant score.
Director Werner Penzel will be in attendance for Q&A.
Directed by Dechen Roder
Bhutan / Dzongkha with English subtitles / 132 min / Drama
This first feature by Bhutanese Dechen Roder is a feminist twist on film noir. A woman goes missing from a small village, policeman Kinley is put on the case, and his number one suspect is sexy Choden. But the missing woman is the abbess of a Buddhist nunnery, and there are some forces at work beyond the obvious. Choden regales Kinley with legends about enlightened female deities fighting social oppression—stories he dismisses as "rumors," given that he eyes Buddhist murals with suspicion rather than awe.
Vividly filmed by cinematographer Jigme Tenzing (who also lensed Khyentse Norbu’s Hema Hema: Sing Me A Song While I Wait), this is a beautiful and provocative journey into contemporary Bhutan, the last Buddhist kingdom.