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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.

Posted Images

The 1967 TV series 'The Prisoner' is often said to contain Buddhist themes, although the producer/director/star Patrick McGoohan refused to comment on his intentions.

A remake/recasting of the series premieres in November 2009. From the preview clips, it appears the philosophical underpinnings of 'The Prisoner' are more sharply outlined in the new version.





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What about this film about ladyboys and buddhism?

Now thats thailand!

Not really. Whoever made this film is seriously confused about Thai Buddhism and culture. For example, they say:

Inter-cut within the film is Dr Preecha, the worlds greatest sexual reassignment surgeon performing colon transposition for vagina, and the illuminating exploration of what Buddhism refers to as Yab Yum or 'both both,' the Buddhist belief that the supreme entity is non-dualistic thus forging the androgynous psychology of Thailand's contemporary Buddhist society.

...we meet more identical twin hermaphrodites Jep and Jane who speak about the fluid psychology Buddhism has forged in Thailand, the land of the free. A film exploring the fixed ideas of monotheism, non duality and the flux which interconnects us to the great mystery.

The organization behind it is something to do with shamanism and "Helping tribal communities resist development, build networks, fight for human rights and resist conversation [sic] to the christian faith." Yab Yum is from Tibetan Buddhism and there is no "supreme entity" in Thai Buddhism. But never let the facts get in the way of a good movie about ladyboys. :)

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seven years in tibet

My thai buddhist girlfriend reckons the buddhist are stupid in this movie as they love animals, says it all about thailand really

Well, it may tell us something about your girlfriend. You can't generalize about 65 million people from one comment.

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The TV series "Monkey" is really good fun i absoloutely adored it as a child and its still funny to this day. It is based on a book and the book is based on a real person. Hs En Tsang traveled to India in AD 629 to collect Buddhist scriptures. Excellent one for kids if not adults.


In this clip Monkey pees on Buddhas hand :)


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2nd Bangkok International Buddhist Film Festival

January 11th - 27th, 2010

Thammasat University

The Bangkok International Buddhist Film Festival, produced by John Solt of Highmoonoon, began last year with a dozen movies over a three week period. Each was followed by lively discussion and featured distinguished guests such as Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammananda, Amarjiva Lochan, and Satyasheel Gautam.

This year the festival continues its theme of the movie portrayal of Buddhist monks and nuns in exactly the same format, and guests this year include Venerable Hyaedan Sunim from the Bangkok Zen Centre, Ven. W. Piyaratana, Ven. Maitree Moorthi and, again, Venerable Bikkhuni Dhammananda, among others.

I think I attended almost every film last time, and though I won't be able to do the same again this year, I'm certainly looking forward to spending as much time there as I can, enjoying both the screenings (in the excellent Thammasat facilities) and the friendly and fascinating conversations afterwards. See you there.

Monday 11 Jan- Japan

The Burmese Harp, 1956

Tuesday 12 Jan - Korea

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?, 1989

(with special guest, the senior nun from the Bangkok Zen Centre)

Wednesday 13 Jan - Korea

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, 2004

Friday 15 Jan - China

Amongst White Clouds: Buddhist Hermit Masters of China’s Zongnan Mountains, 2005

Friday 15 Jan - Vietnam

Peace Is Every Step—Meditation in Action: The Life & Work of Thich Nhat Hanh, 1997

Monday 18 Jan - Bhutan

The Cup, 2000

Tuesday 19 Jan - Bhutan

Travelers and Magicians, 2004

Wednesday 20 Jan - Tibet

Wheel of Time, 2003

Friday 22 Jan - Germany

Siddhartha, 1972

Monday 25 Jan - Germany

Enlightenment Guaranteed, 2002

Alternate Spiritualities

Tuesday 26 Jan - France

Into Great Silence: Inside the Famed Carthusian Monastery, 2005

Wednesday 27 Jan - USA

Bill’s Mountain, 2009


Pridi Banomyong Library

Thammasat University

Tha Phra Chan campus

Chao Phraya River


All showings are from 1:30-4:00 p.m.

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I've just ordered the following documentary Dhamma Dana:

Myanmar (Burma) is home to one of the most peaceful spiritual traditions in the world: Theravada Buddhism. In the Theravada tradition, which is followed by 90% of Burmese people, peace and freedom are not pursued externally. Instead the Theravada Buddhists find freedom within themselves. Originating from the Buddha’s 2500 year-old teachings, the path to inner liberation is propagated by the Sangha: the community of ordained monks and nuns. Over 5% of Burmese people are members of the Sangha. In order to materially survive, the Sangha relies on Sangha Dana: the offerings given by lay devotees. It is by the merit of Sangha Dana that the order of monks and nuns can continue to recompense the generosity with Dhamma Dana: the sacred gift of the Buddha’s teachings.

Filmed entirely in Myanmar, Dhamma Dana delves deep into the Golden Land’s monastic tradition and reveals how the Burmese Buddhists find inner freedom. The film presents the Dhamma with a serene rhythm; documenting a powerfully peaceful ancient tradition that few experience first hand.

Dr Molini, a Burmese nun and avid social worker, provides the experience and guiding light to tell the story of how the Burmese preserve and propagate their unique tradition. In Dhamma Dana, she illuminates the heartwarming effort of a people who transcend the influence of modern times in order to uphold the ancient tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

Filmmaker Theodore Martland had to meet with the Burmese Ambassador’s second secretary in India, Khin Aye Kyi Than, file his itinerary with the Burmese military government, and apply to the Burmese Ministry of Religious Affairs for official documents that would allow him to enter the country and film. It is rare for westerners, Americans especially, to be able to travel to Myanmar. The US only started to re-allow travel to the country a few months before he went. With only a 26-day visa he continuously filmed as much of the Golden Land’s Buddhist culture as he could. Living in monasteries and meditation centers; traveling by pick-up truck, open-air trains, and on the roofs of buses; the longest he stayed in one place was 3 days.

Running Time: 30 minutes


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It is rare for westerners, Americans especially, to be able to travel to Myanmar. The US only started to re-allow travel to the country a few months before he went.

Looks like a very interesting film. However it's not true that the US only recently started to allow travel to Myanmar. It has always been allowed, AFAIK, ie, there were never travel sanctions. I know Americans who have been to the country dozens of times beginning as far back as the early 70s and continuing to the present.

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The BBC documentary (actually more of a docudrama, with actors), The Life of Buddha, is currently available on DVD at Mangpong outlets in Bangkok for 89 baht. The 50-minute video version is also available for free viewing on youtube.

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In the shadow of Buddhism

By Parinyaporn Pajee

The Nation

Published on February 18, 2010

After three years of discussion, a dark drama featuring fake gun-toting monks finally comes to Thai cinemas

More than three years after director Phawat Panangkasiri called out "it's a wrap," and cast and crew of the movie toasted the completion of filming, crime drama "Nak Prok" ("The Shadow of the Naga") is finally coming to Thai cinemas in its original version. It's being released uncut with two ratings, Rate 18+ with pop ups and Rate 20 without, meaning that it contains strong language and violent scenes involving a monk with a gun that might offend those with strict Buddhist principles.

The story depicts three thieves - Singha (Ray MacDonald), Parn (Somchai Khemklad) and Por (Pitisak Yaowananon) - who think they're being clever by hiding their loot in the grounds of a temple. But when they return to collect the money, they find it's been buried under the new chapel. Their solution is to force head monk Luangta Chuen (Sa-ad Piampongsan) to conduct an ordination ceremony for them so that they can stay in the nearby monastery while they dig for their money.

Por chooses to be a temple boy instead because he feels it's a sin to do bad things while wearing the saffron robes.

Tension erupts when Singh's girlfriend (Inthira Charoenpura) turns up while the trio is digging.

While the plot may seem to foreign film fans similar to "Blue Streak" and "We're No Angels", with robbers posing as good guys for nefarious purposes, the juxtaposition of Buddhist monk with dark drama has a very different context.

Each character, says the director, is like one of the four types of lotus in Buddhism, which refer to the different levels of understanding of Dharma. The Singha character, for example, is not open-minded to any teaching and cannot understand Dharma at all even though he has the chance to be a monk. Por, on the other hand, opens his heart and mind to the Buddha's teaching when he spends time in close proximity to the monks despite having led a life a crime.

The director, himself a deeply committed Buddhist, says he doesn't present these ideas in a complicated plot because he knows that making a story with bad monks is already strong enough for a local audience.

"Even though we read reports about monks doing wrong in the papers most days, most people feel awkward at seeing it on the big screen," he says.

"I constantly hear that religion is on the decline. That's not true. It's people who are falling by the wayside, not the religion," he says.

Actor Ray, who plays the dangerous and aggressive Singha, says he doesn't see his character as a monk but simply as a bad guy who wears the saffron robes to commit a crime.

"It's the most challenging role I've ever played," says the actor, who usually plays a loner.

Phawat, who first worked with Ray in the '90s on variety hit "Teen Talk", says part of his reason for selecting the actor was his mixed British/Thai blood.

"Thai actors would inevitably feel uncomfortable about playing that bad monk character. Ray doesn't have that barrier," he says.

Phawat says 'Nak Prok' was always intended as a film noir and that he has no regrets about refusing to bow to social sensitivities, even if it's meant such a long wait.

When movie mogul Somsak 'Sia Jiang' Techarattanaprasert saw the final cut three years ago, he ordered Phawat to re-edit and erase the gun from many scenes. "It looked so bizarre when the characters just point their hands at each other!" laughs Phawat.

"They decided to return to original version but with one condition. Somsak knew that the film would be banned under the old film law. So he asked me to wait for the new law, although back then we didn't know really know about the ratings and if and how they would help."

Phawat agreed, especially as there was nothing to stop the film being shown out of country. Indeed, it was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008, where it received mixed reviews.

Meantime, Sahamongkol Films Company tested local waters by taking the film on campus tours.

"We got good feedback and most understood what we are trying to do," he says.

But faith and crime are always taboo in Thai films. Many movies have faced strong protests from conservative Buddhists, sometimes even they've been released, as was the case with "Angulimala" in 2003.

Phawat urges people to be open-minded and watch the film from beginning to end before passing judgement. If they do, he's confident they'll understand what he's trying to say.

"Nak Prok" goes on release on March 18 with two optional ratings" Rate 18+ with pop-up warning signs in some scenes and Rate 20+ without the signs.


-- The Nation 18/2/2010


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Another Thai-produced film coming out soon in which the bad guys are monks is Mindfulness Over Murder, based on the novel of the same name by ex-Bangkok Post subeditor Nick Wilgus. In this case the monks are either undercover cops or drug dealers (that's part of the mystery). The abbot becomes a Colombo-like detective figure. (Disclaimer: I worked on the script, pre-production.)

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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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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.

Full story.

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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! ]

Full story.

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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.

Full story.

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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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