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There haven't been many Hollywood movies about Buddhism or relating to Buddhism. The ones I remember are:

Siddartha : A weak 1970s movie based on the popular Hermann Hess book. Starred Bollywood heartthrob, Shashi Kapoor as the Buddha.

Kundun : Very interesting biography of the Dalai Lama made by Martin Scorsese (who also filmed the controversial Last Temptation of Christ) in 1997. An excellent film, almost like a thriller towards the end, it doesn't go too deeply into Buddhist principles. But non-violence is a prominent theme and it does show the "exotic" side of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Oracle and the making of sand mandalas.

The Little Buddha : This 1994 movie from Bernardo Bertolucci tells the story of the Buddha and makes it accessible to modern audiences using the story of a search for a reincarnated lama in Seattle and Katmandu. Not a bad effort at giving westerners an idea of what Buddhism is about, but it's a bit hard to take Keanu Reeves as the Buddha. I suppose they needed a star, and chose him because he's a Buddhist and has a vaguely eastern appearance due to his Hawaian ancestry. Bertolucci made movies about fascism and communism back in the 70s and 80s.

Seven Years in Tibet : Apparently the story of an Austrian Nazi whose life was changed by Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Filmed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. I haven't seen it.

Are there any others? I guess films about Buddhism would be a hard sell to a mass audience in the West.

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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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There haven't been many Hollywood movies about Buddhism or relating to Buddhism. The ones I remember are:

Siddartha : A weak 1970s movie based on the popular Hermann Hess book. Starred Bollywood heartthrob, Shashi Kapoor as the Buddha.

Kundun : Very interesting biography of the Dalai Lama made by Martin Scorsese (who also filmed the controversial Last Temptation of Christ) in 1997. An excellent film, almost like a thriller towards the end, it doesn't go too deeply into Buddhist principles. But non-violence is a prominent theme and it does show the "exotic" side of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Oracle and the making of sand mandalas.

The Little Buddha : This 1994 movie from Bernardo Bertolucci tells the story of the Buddha and makes it accessible to modern audiences using the story of a search for a reincarnated lama in Seattle and Katmandu. Not a bad effort at giving westerners an idea of what Buddhism is about, but it's a bit hard to take Keanu Reeves as the Buddha. I suppose they needed a star, and chose him because he's a Buddhist and has a vaguely eastern appearance due to his Hawaian ancestry. Bertolucci made movies about fascism and communism back in the 70s and 80s.

Seven Years in Tibet : Apparently the story of an Austrian Nazi whose life was changed by Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Filmed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. I haven't seen it.

Are there any others? I guess films about Buddhism would be a hard sell to a mass audience in the West.

Nice mini-reviews.

My favourite film about Buddhism -- of the ones I've seen at any rate -- is Im Kwon-taek's Mandala, a Korean film (1981). It's about a student radical -- as you know, Seoul is full of them :o -- who becomes disenchanted with politics and decides to become a Son (Korean Zen) monk. He ends up following an older monk on his wanderings around the countryside, on foot. It's done in the style of the golden age of Japanese cinema (60s), beautiful cinematography a la Woman in the Dunes.

Korean cinema boasts a number of other films on Son Buddhism, including Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (1989) and A Little Monk (2003), both of which, as I understand it (haven't seen these films), are about three generations of monks.

korean buddhist films

Mandala

South Korea 1981. Director: Im Kwon-Taek

Cast: Chun Moo-Song, Ahn Song-Gi, Pang Hui, Ki Jong-Su

Kundun, Little Buddha, Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?, The Cup - Buddhism, and its place in today's world, has been a popular subject of contemporary cinema. The magnificent Mandala dates from 1981, and was the breakthrough work of Korean master Im Kwon-Taek, director of Sopyonje (see January 7th & 9th). Based on a controversial Korean novel, Im's lyrical film traces the growing friendship between two very different monks who meet by chance while travelling by bus. Young Pobun is a recent college graduate who has broken with his girlfriend to become an ascetic. Jisan is middle-aged, cheerfully disorganized, and decidedly unorthodox: given to boozing and eating meat, and not above a little non-celibacy. Is Jisan just a mess, or has he reached a level of enlightenment that Pobun and their stricter peers have yet to attain? "A film whose spiritual integrity is reflected in the mantric calm of its measured rhythms and elegant images... [it]also works as an unexpectedly tough appraisal of the tenets and practices of a living philosophy" (Geoff Andrew). "A film of awesome emotional authority about the nature of Buddhism in the modern world... [it] explores the theme of a spiritual quest in the most sumptuous physical terms, with images of overwhelming beauty, performances of matchless assurance and, above all, an intensely moving sense of human lusts and frailties. A masterpiece" (Tony Rayns). Colour, 35mm, in Korean with English subtitles. 105 mins.

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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 to an ignorant western audience.

Last year I built a school for street children in Kathmandu right on the site by the great stupa at Boudha where some of the film was shot, so they were thrilled when I acquired the film to show them.

In terms of entertainment it's excellent in parts - the Tibetans are real monks, not actors whereas the American stars are appalling. Some of the sequences which tell the story of Siddhartha are superbly produced, especially the Four Sights and his temptations by Mara, and I'm still very impressed by a popular film which fits in a recitation of the wonderful Heart Sutra, but overall don't take it as a documentary on Buddhism - not even Tibetan Buddhism.

Kundun

This is a very authentic portrayal of Tibetan Buddhism, but it makes no concession to an audience who have no background - it would I guess be a bit esoteric and impressionistic (I do have the 'background' so I can't put myself in those shoes) but very powerful for that.

The Cup

This happens to be my all-time favourite film. A combination of Buddhism and football - you can't beat that! It's very funny and also truly authentic in a way that is very different to Kundun. Kundun is about the early life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of course and there aren't many laughs to be had there; The Cup is about the other side of Tibetan monastic life. When you live in Boudha, Kathmandu, in the midst of all these mega-monasteries and you can't get a PC in a cyber-cafe 'cos there all filled with little monklets playing Doom, you quickly realise that as in Thai monasteries, not all the guys are there for deeply spiritual reasons. The Cup shows this - some worldly monks trying to get to see the world cup against the wishes of the abbott. But just like the real-life counterparts, they're good lads, just not wholly focussed on religious practises. Nobody's bad, nobody dies - it's a real feel-good movie with the best ending EVER!

Himalaya a.k.a. Caravan

This is the ultimate in authenticity. A French director found an extremely remote village in the Himalayas and told the villagers to play themselves. The village is just over the border in Nepal and whilst it's not a film about Buddhism, Buddhism forms an integral part of the story about a yak caravan trying to combat the elements. It's the absolute antithesis of an all-action Hollywood movie but I challenge you to keep a dry eye when a yak dies. A must-see. When I show it to my Nepali friends they all say that's not a film, it's a documentary.

I've never yet got hold of the Korean Zen films, which I'd dearly love to see. I don't know of any Theravada-based films.

Where to get? Are they not available in the market for a few baht? I don't know.

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Oh! Oh! How could I forget THAT film!? Kindofa Leftfield one this, but there is a movie which presents the Buddhist view of Reality, 'Seeing Things How They Really Are' (a Pali synonym for enlightenment', and you've all seen it.

The Matrix. :o

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How could I forget? There's also that old 1937 classic, Lost Horizon in which a diplomat's plane crashes in the mountains of Tibet and he finds Shangri-la (i.e. Shambala), where everyone lives happily by being kind to one another. Haven't seen that one since I was a kid.

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These mini reviews are great.  :o

Appreciate if any of you can tell me from where I can get copies of these movies?

The Cup, Little Buddha, Himalaya, Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? and Kundun are all available via amazon.com.

I had no luck finding a place with A Little Monk or Mandala on DVD or VHS.

Another nice film with a Buddhist theme is The Burmese Harp, directed by Kon Ichikawa in 1956 and based on a Japanese novel that came out around that same time. It's about a Japanese soldier who is sent to Burma during WWII, becomes disillusioned with the Japanese occupation of SE Asia, deserts the army and becomes a wandering Theravada monk. I've seen this excellent film three or four times. Available on DVD and VHS online.

Some of the amazon reviews are fun to read, like this one for Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East:

Bae Yong-kyun's Zen masterpiece. Acclaimed by critics and audiences throughout the world, "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?" is simply one of the most ravishing films ever made. In a remote monastery high up in the mountains, an old master, a young monk and an orphaned boy devote themselves to their Buddhist teachings. As the master faces death, he becomes more desperate to lead his disciples away from the outside world and point them toward their quest for enlightenment. This magnificent film, astonishingly rich in its formal beauty and affirmation of life, is not only a cinematic gem but a transcendent evocation of the mystery and humanity of Zen Buddhism. Selected as "One of the Ten Best Films of All Time" in the 1993 Sight & Sound Critics Poll.

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A Little Monk is available at Hong Kong-based www.yesasia.com and Hawaii-based www.hkflix.com. The former is more reliable. HKFlix can take ages to get stuff that's out of stock and customer support is disorganized (it's a husband and wife business).

http://global.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/...section-videos/

http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID.529041/qx/details.htm

Mandala (a.k.a. A Buddhist Ascetic Mandara) is only available in Korean without subtitles.

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Tina Turner's biopic, 'What's Love Got to Do With It', is partly about how she met Nichiren Buddhism at one of her low points, and how she managed to change her whole life round. Regrettably she also went from great R&B to making awful AOR!

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A Little Monk is available at Hong Kong-based www.yesasia.com and Hawaii-based www.hkflix.com. The former is more reliable. HKFlix can take ages to get stuff that's out of stock and customer support is disorganized (it's a husband and wife business).

http://global.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/...section-videos/

http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID.529041/qx/details.htm

Mandala (a.k.a. A Buddhist Ascetic Mandara) is only available in Korean without subtitles.

thanks camerata.

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I finally got to see Seven Years in Tibet - not bad but it's hard to emphathise with the rather unpleasant main character. Not much about Buddhism in it. Kundun is far better.

The Cup, on the other hand, is a little gem.

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Dharma River, Journey of a Thousand Buddhas (Laos, Thailand, Burma)

www.directpictures.com/2/dharma_preview.html

This is a visually stunning, high production quality, mini-documentary (almost a travelogue) that is reasonably priced. Unfortunately, it may only be available in NTSC (USA) format. But it will play on any multi-media PC with DVD player.

(very slick web site, too)

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Dharma River, Journey of a Thousand Buddhas (Laos, Thailand, Burma)

www.directpictures.com/2/dharma_preview.html

This is a visually stunning, high production quality, mini-documentary (almost a travelogue) that is reasonably priced. Unfortunately, it may only be available in NTSC (USA) format. But it will play on any multi-media PC with DVD player.

(very slick web site, too)

Looks like a good film documentary. The website says it's also available on DVD.

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About 15 to 20 years ago they had a serie on the thai tv and it was going over the live of "Prowet Sandon" .

Or the Buddha in his former live with his wife and children.

Was a nice serie to watch but i can't find it no more(was on VHS tape also).

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Did anyone mention this excellent Buddhist movie?

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall... and Spring (2004)

SYNOPSIS

The exquisitely beautiful and very human drama SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER… AND SPRING, starring director KIM Ki-duk, is entirely set on and around a tree-lined lake where a tiny Buddhist monastery floats on a raft amidst a breath-taking landscape. The film is divided into five segments with each season representing a stage in a man's life. Under the vigilant eyes of Old Monk (wonderful veteran theatre actor OH Young-soo), Child Monk learns a hard lesson about the nature of sorrow when some of his childish games turn cruel. In the intensity and lushness of summer, the monk, now a young man, experiences the power of lust, a desire that will ultimately lead him, as an adult, to dark deeds. With winter, strikingly set on the ice and snow-covered lake, the man atones for his past actions, and spring starts the cycle anew… With an extraordinary attention to visual details, such as using a different animal (dog, rooster, cat, snake) as a motif for each section, writer/director/editor KIM Ki-duk has crafted a totally original yet universal story about the human spirit, moving from Innocence, through Love and Evil, to Enlightenment and finally Rebirth.

SPRING

The wooden doors of a gated threshold open on a small monastery raft that floats upon the tranquil surface of a mountain pond. The hermitage's sole occupants are an Old Monk (OH Young-soo) and his boy protégé Child Monk (KIM Jong-ho). While exploring the world in and around their secluded idyll, Child Monk indulges in the capricious cruelties of boyhood. After tying stones to a fish, a frog, and a snake, Child Monk awakens to find himself fettered by a large stone Old Monk has bound to him. The old man calmly instructs the boy to release the animals, promising him that if any of the creatures die "you'll carry the stone in your heart for the rest of your life.”

SUMMER

The doors open again on Boy Monk now aged 17 (SEO Jae-kyung) who meets a woman (KIM Jung-young) making a pilgrimage with her spiritually ill daughter (HAYeo-jin). "When she finds peace in her soul," Old Monk reassures the mother, "her body will return to health." The girl awakens desire in Boy Monk and the sensual flirtation between the two of them culminates in passionate lovemaking on pond-side rocks. After a furtive but tender tryst in the abbey's rowboat, the lovers are discovered by Old Monk. The girl, now healed, is sent back to her mother. Forsaking his monastery home, the infatuated Boy Monk follows her.

FALL

Long absent from the monastery, Young Adult Monk (KIM Young-Min), now a thirty year old fugitive, returns to the abbey raft still consumed by a jealous rage that has compelled him to commit a violent crime. When Young Adult Monk attempts penitence as cruel as his misdeed, Old Monk punishes him. The Old Monk instructs Young Adult Monk to carve Pranjaparpamita (Buddhist) sutras into the hermitage's deck in order to find peace in his heart. Two policemen arrive at the abbey to arrest Young Adult Monk but thanks to Old Monk, they let Young Adult Monk continue carving the sutras. Young Adult Monk collapses from exhaustion and the two policemen finish decorating the sutras before taking Young Adult Monk into custody. Alone again, Old Monk prepares a ritual funereal pyre for himself.

WINTER

The doors open on the now frozen pond and abandoned monastery. The now mature Adult Monk (played by director KIM Ki-duk) returns to train himself for the penultimate season in his spiritual journey-cycle. A veiled woman arrives bearing an infant that she leaves in Adult Monk's care. In a pilgrimage of contrition, Adult Monk drags a millstone to the summit of a mountain overlooking the pond. As he gazes down on the pond that buoys the monastery and the mountainsides that gently hold the pond like cupped hands, Adult Monk acknowledges the unending cycle of seasons and the accompanying ebb and flow of life's joys and sorrows.

... AND SPRING The doors open once again on a beautiful spring day. Grown from a child to a man and from a novice to a master, Adult Monk has been reborn as teacher for his new protégé. Together, Adult Monk and his young pupil are to start the cycle anew….

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

"I intended to portray the joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure of our lives through four seasons and through the life of a monk who lives in a temple on Jusan Pond surrounded only by nature." -- KIM Ki-duk

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There haven't been many Hollywood movies about Buddhism or relating to Buddhism. The ones I remember are:

Siddartha : A weak 1970s movie based on the popular Hermann Hess book. Starred Bollywood heartthrob, Shashi Kapoor as the Buddha.

Kundun : Very interesting biography of the Dalai Lama made by Martin Scorsese (who also filmed the controversial Last Temptation of Christ) in 1997. An excellent film, almost like a thriller towards the end, it doesn't go too deeply into Buddhist principles. But non-violence is a prominent theme and it does show the "exotic" side of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Oracle and the making of sand mandalas.

The Little Buddha : This 1994 movie from Bernardo Bertolucci tells the story of the Buddha and makes it accessible to modern audiences using the story of a search for a reincarnated lama in Seattle and Katmandu. Not a bad effort at giving westerners an idea of what Buddhism is about, but it's a bit hard to take Keanu Reeves as the Buddha. I suppose they needed a star, and chose him because he's a Buddhist and has a vaguely eastern appearance due to his Hawaian ancestry. Bertolucci made movies about fascism and communism back in the 70s and 80s.

Seven Years in Tibet : Apparently the story of an Austrian Nazi whose life was changed by Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Filmed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. I haven't seen it.

Are there any others? I guess films about Buddhism would be a hard sell to a mass audience in the West.

Based on the movies I have seen, the ones which impressed me most is Bae Yong-Kyun's "Why has Bodhidharma Left for the East" (BLFTE) followed by "The Little Buddha" and an old film titled "The Lost Horizon" also known as the Shangri-La film.

The first (BLFTE) because of the simplicity and moving message conveyed in the film, cheap (price-wise) production, no frills, thrills nor stunts. For a film with very little dialogue, the story is told almost without the human voice, rendering a Zen-like tapestry of simplicity yet having a profound effect on the viewer's emotions. Another reason for liking this movie is that it was produced by a Korean without Hollywood pretensions.

The Little Buddha with a costly production budget is a cacpphony of sound, colour, stunning imagery with commercial considerations in the making of the movie. Nonetheless the setting in a Tibetan monastery and the great non-affected acting by the monks resident there make for an enjoyable movie skillfully melded together by a great Italtian director.

The third movie "The Lost Horizon" is a musical based on James Hilton's book about the survivors of an aircrash who stumble upon the lost world of Shangri-La, a beautiful place where dreams come true and where people live up to hundreds of years. The setting reminds one of Tibet and scenes of distinctly "Buddhist" monks evoke scenes of the Himalayas. Eventually some of the survivors return to the "real" world. Actors in this film include John Gielgud, Peter Finch, James Shigeta and Liv Ullman. This is truly a classic as it was one of the first Hollywood films which featured and focused on the ways and lives of those who lived in Asia with a distinct Buddhist flavour.

BLFTE was bought as a VHS videotape from Amazon while The Lost Horizon was available in VHS from the video shop many years ago.

I have also viewed "Dharma River" and "Prajna Earth" on DVD available from www.directpictures.com and whist the cinematography was impressive and stunning at times, it left me the impression that it was completed in a hurry and something was missing which I can't quite put a finger on. Perhaps it would dawn on me after a few repeat viewings.

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  • 7 months later...

There is a new Documentary about an English Buddhist monk called "Lost in Lane"

http://www.poppoli.com/lostinlane.html

"SYNOPSIS (long)

It´s 1981. A boy at the age of 18 travels from England to Thailand to become a Buddhist monk.

Robert Eddison was born and raised in Nottingham. He had always had the feeling of being a Buddhist and started to practise from an early age. His teacher advised him to seek further guidence, leading Robert to a monastery in Thailand.

His plan to stay there for several months became a decade.

During his years in Thailand he corresponded with buddhists from all over the world. His life was transformed when he decided to visit one of his penpals in Iceland. There he found thousands of Buddhists who had immmigrated to this cold country in the north. He was asked to stay there to serve their religous needs, a task he happily accepted. Suddenly Robert became the only Buddhist monk in Iceland and started a formal religous movement in 1995.

Robert’s life was transformed again when he travelled to Kazakstan to visit a space station to celebrate the end of the millenium. Robert had always been interested in space travels and that interest led him to the suprise of his life. He fell in love with an aerobic instructor in Kazakstan, asked her to come with him to Iceland and marry him. That she did, and Robert disrobed after sixteen years of monkhood.

His marriage lastest for five months. He separated and started to work as a security guard. In few months Robert was transformed from a naïve monk to a “normal” person. Encountering the challenge of wearing pants, paying bills, as well as dealing with the headaches from the opposite sex.

His visit to the “normal world” ended in May 2004 when he travelled to Thailand to become Dhammanando again.

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There is a new Documentary about an English Buddhist monk called "Lost in Lane"

http://www.poppoli.com/lostinlane.html

"SYNOPSIS (long)

It´s 1981. A boy at the age of 18 travels from England to Thailand to become a Buddhist monk.

Robert Eddison was born and raised in Nottingham. He had always had the feeling of being a Buddhist and started to practise from an early age. His teacher advised him to seek further guidence, leading Robert to a monastery in Thailand.

His plan to stay there for several months became a decade.

During his years in Thailand he corresponded with buddhists from all over the world. His life was transformed when he decided to visit one of his penpals in Iceland. There he found thousands of Buddhists who had immmigrated to this cold country in the north. He was asked to stay there to serve their religous needs, a task he happily accepted. Suddenly Robert became the only Buddhist monk in Iceland and started a formal religous movement in 1995.

Robert’s life was transformed again when he travelled to Kazakstan to visit a space station to celebrate the end of the millenium. Robert had always been interested in space travels and that interest led him to the suprise of his life. He fell in love with an aerobic instructor in Kazakstan, asked her to come with him to Iceland and marry him. That she did, and Robert disrobed after sixteen years of monkhood.

His marriage lastest for five months. He separated and started to work as a security guard. In few months Robert was transformed from a naïve monk to a “normal” person. Encountering the challenge of wearing pants, paying bills, as well as dealing with the headaches from the opposite sex.

His visit to the “normal world” ended in May 2004 when he travelled to Thailand to become Dhammanando again.

It looks like this film pay also be called "Act Normal"

There is a trailer available at:

http://www.poppoli.com/actnormal.html

Bankei

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The Matrix. :o

Second that! The most Buddhist films aren't necessarily labelled as such.

I recently had to help my Cambodian niece with a comparative religion school assignment -- like most Cambodians (and arguably many Thais) she knew only the ritualistic aspectys of her religion. After I explained the basics to her as best I could, she said "Oh, I get it -- it's like the Matrix!"

The line in the final episodes about "everything that has a beginning has an end"is actually a play on the Buddha's final words...sabbe sankhara annicum

And the very last words of the movie are a play on the reported last words of Christ. I particularly like the way the film blends Buddhist and selected Chrisitian concepts...(including a hefty dose of gnosticism, which seems to have gone beneath the radar of the anti-Da Vinci code folk!)

I've heard that the Kachowski brothers (?sp) are pretty wierd, but they certainly know a lot about various religious teachings.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Middle Path film series

by Sumati Mehrishi Sharma

Sian’s Cinefan is back — with its usual load of screen stunners. As many as 120 films from Algeria, Vietnam and a rare mix of Arabian fare, besides productions from Asia’s budding film industries are set to woo film buffs from July 14. But as with all good things, there’s a catch. Unlike in the past, there’s a price for this year’s ticket to escapism: Rs 20.

“We’re confident people will pay happily,” says an optimistic yet sheepish Neville Tuli, Osian’s CEO. “Aruna Vasudev, Cinemaya editor, who took the initiative seven years ago on a shoestring budget, feels it’s time we got some support from the audience,” he adds.

It may be a small price to pay for the fare on offer. Osian’s promises to be bigger and better, with events like the Talent Campus India 2006 for cinema students, exhibitions and auctions, and may well be on its way to becoming a major international event, believes Vasudev.

As for the movies, there’s The Middle Path, a collection of 12 films on Buddhism, and interesting co-productions like the Bhutan-USA venture, Milarepa. The Indian section has four Marathi films and an assortment of Bengali entries, while Dombivili Fast is a blood-boiler. Pan Nalin’s Valley of Flowers, which opens the fest, is full of Ladakh’s evocative scenery, while Rituparno Ghosh’s Dosar is part of the Asian competition.

With its history of showcasing steamy Hindi films, (remember the dash of skin show in Deepak Tijori’s Oops and Kamal Sadanah’s Karkash) this year’s Osian’s is getting a few “popular” multiplex films such as Being Cyrus, Mixed Doubles and the Naseeruddin Shah starrer Parzania.

Source: Delhi News Online

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There is an excellent documentary called The Story of the Weeping Camel about life in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia and a family's attempts to get a camel to accept the colt it has rejected. It shows how the people of the desert live in harmony with nature. The family seems to be largely self-sufficient, in the way Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa praises in his book, Conflict, Culture, Change. Half way through the film, two boys go to a distant town and we hear the ugly sounds of motorbikes and see people staring at TV screens. As they ride their camels home, the younger boy says, "I want a TV." The elder replies, "That would cost 20-30 sheep, and then you'd need electricty to power it... that would cost a whole flock!"

As for Ajahn Sulak's book, the first half about engaged Buddhism isn't that inspiring, but the later chapters about how Thailand embraced consumerism and lost its soul is pretty interesting.

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There is an excellent documentary called The Story of the Weeping Camel about life in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia and a family's attempts to get a camel to accept the colt it has rejected. It shows how the people of the desert live in harmony with nature. The family seems to be largely self-sufficient, in the way Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa praises in his book, Conflict, Culture, Change. Half way through the film, two boys go to a distant town and we hear the ugly sounds of motorbikes and see people staring at TV screens. As they ride their camels home, the younger boy says, "I want a TV." The elder replies, "That would cost 20-30 sheep, and then you'd need electricty to power it... that would cost a whole flock!"

As for Ajahn Sulak's book, the first half about engaged Buddhism isn't that inspiring, but the later chapters about how Thailand embraced consumerism and lost its soul is pretty interesting.

I've watched that film, very moving, one of the best cultural documentaries I've seen.

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Just to add my vote for The Matrix as one of the best Buddhist movies out there.

For explicitly Buddhist movies, The Cup is probably the most accessible and enjoyable. I found Kundun ponderous -- only for the hard core adherents perhaps. (I don't self-identify as a Buddhist, but I am more sympathetic to Buddhism that any other major religious tradition.)

Lost Horizon is also good, although it romanticizes the would-be Tibertan society almost to the point of parody. Still, that's what you would expect for that era.

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