Journey From Zanskar (sold out)

SUN 18 SEP  | 5:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere

USA 2010
90 mins
PG13 (Brief Nudity)
Multiple languages with English subtitles
Director: Frederick Marx
There will be a post-screening discussion with a film representative


Synopsis

img02_webOne of the last places on Earth where the original Tibetan Buddhist way of life still exists, Zanskar’s inaccessibility and isolation have protected it from cultural change. Two monks select 17 children aged 4 to 12 who will separate from their families for most of their lives to receive education, so that their cultural heritage will not be lost. With yaks and horses, they embark on an almost impossible ten-day trek through the deep snow of the Himalayas.

With a guest appearance by the Dalai Lama himself, this remarkable journey witnesses the amazing resilience of the people of Zanskar. See them laugh in the face of crushing disappointment; hear the children sing while riding into a dangerous, unknown future.


Director’s Bio

img04_webNFrederick Marx is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated producer/director with 35 years in the film business. He was named a Chicago Tribune Artist of the Year for 1994, a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award. Hoop Dreams (1994) is his first documentary film exploring the welfare of teenage boys.

Along with Journey from Zanskar, his interest in foreign cultures is reflected in PBS’ international human rights program Out Of The Silence (1991) and the widely acclaimed personal essay Dreams From China (1989).  Marx, a true maverick who dedicated his life to the making and promotion of independent films, continues to provide a voice of artistic and social integrity.


Director’s Statement

“How far would you go to save your dying culture?”

“Sometimes you have to give up your kids in order to save them.”

It took a long journey to arrive at the simplicity of those two statements, but the film didn’t start out with them as the central ideas.

The story of the trek as it appears in the film is our story too. The uncertainties, the cold, the disappointments, the fears – those were ours too. There were times in the two years prior to completion when, overwhelmed with anxiety and stress over how I was going to finish the film, I would drop my head to my desk and weep. The one thing that always pulled me through was the film itself.

 

Zen And War (sold out)

Zen-garden_web

SUN 18 SEP  | 1:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere

THE NETHERLANDS 2009
60 mins
PG13 (Some Mature Content)
Japanese and English with English subtitles
Director: Alexander Oey
There will be a post-screening discussion with a film representative


Synopsis

Lay-Zazen-Practice_webIn the beginning of the 20th century, Japan waged a number of wars, which culminated in the Second World War.

In 1998, the book Zen at War was published in the United States describing in detail how Buddhist monks actively fought in these wars.

A Zen Buddhist woman in Holland was appalled by what she read in the book and wrote letters to Japanese monasteries inquiring how it was possible that Zen Buddhist monks were involved in warfare.

This documentary features, for the first time, Shodo Harada Roshi and other contemporary Zen Buddhist masters attempting to explain why their wartime predecessors became involved in Japanese militarism. Zen and War is a powerful reminder and timely warning of how peaceful philosophies can be waylaid by extremist ideologies.


Director’s Bio

Harada-Shodo-Roshi_webAlexander Oey works as a documentary filmmaker for several broadcasters in the Netherlands. He has made films about a wide range of subjects such as art, terrorism, economics and social issues. Films that were shown at international festivals include Hans Joachim Klein, My Life as A Terrorist (2005), There’s No Authority But Yourself (2006), Zen and War (2009), Off the Grid (2011), The Bollywood Revolution (2011), Goldman Sachs and the Destruction of Greece (2012), and Pekka (2014). He frequently contributes to VPRO’s Backlight series. His subjects usually cover a wide range of subjects, mainly in the socio-political or anthropological domain.


Director’s Statement

When I learnt from my philosopher friend Jan Bor that in the beginning of the 20th century, Buddhist monks in Japan had engaged in war, I asked myself the question that everybody would ask: “How is this possible?” I was confused since the act of compassion is so central to Buddhism.

Jan told me about a woman he knew, Ina Buitendijk, who had been in touch with important Japanese Zen masters. It is not often that these Zen masters react to letters from the outside. But they had sent letters back to Ina to offer their apologies. They felt that they had to address Ina’s story of her husband’s suffering.

I decided to make a film about this, which I knew would not be an easy task.


Saving Mes Aynak (sold out)

SUN 18 SEP  | 1:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere

USA 2014
60 mins
PG
Afghan with English subtitles
Director: Brent E. Huffman


Synopsis

SeatedBuddha_webSaving Mes Aynak follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races against time to save a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Afghanistan from imminent destruction. A Chinese state-owned mining company plans to mine the copper deposits beneath it; the operation will demolish the ancient city together with the entire mountain range.

A magnificent Buddhist settlement along the Silk Road, Mes Aynak can be the most important archaeological discovery in a generation. The excavated fraction of the site reveals that future digs will possibly redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself.

Qadir Temori and his fellow Afghan archaeologists face what seems an impossible battle against Chinese developers, Taliban terrorists and local politics to save their cultural heritage from likely erasure.


Director’s Bio

Screen-Shot-webBrent E. Huffman is an award-winning director, producer and cinematographer of documentaries and television programs. His work ranges from documentaries aired on The Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, NBC, CNN, PBS and Al Jazeera, to Sundance Film Festival premieres, to ethnographic films made for the China Exploration and Research Society. He has also directed, produced, shot, and edited short documentaries for online outlets like The New York Times, TIME, Salon, Huffington Post and PBS Arts.

His documentary works include Welcome to Warren: Guards and Inmates on Life in Prison (2004), The Weight of the World (2005), Built in Kabul (2005), The Women’s Kingdom (2006), The Colony (2010) which was aired on Al Jazeera, and Syrian Refugees in Jordan (2012).


The Dalai Lama The 14th (sold out)

SUN 18 SEP  | 10:30am  /  Singapore Premiere

JAPAN 2015
116 mins
NC16 (Some mature content)
Japanese with English subtitle
Director: Fujiro Mitsuishi
There will be a post-screening discussion with a film representative


Synopsis

Dalai-Lama-3How many people can really say they know the man and not just the religious giant he is?

In this documentary you will meet the Dalai Lama as you have never seen him before. The camera goes into the areas of his life that were only accessible to his staff. What you will see through the camera lens is a person relaxing with his glasses off while sipping tea. You will see a monk reading his prayer books and going over the daily assignments. You will meet the Dalai Lama up close and personal. The documentary reveals the Dalai Lama’s agonising and difficult path as well as the essence of the Tibetan issues.


Director’s Bio

Dalai-Lama-2Fujiro Mitsuishi graduated from Nihon University, majoring in Literature and Science. While he was working as an assistant director in films and TV dramas, he was influenced by outstanding directors such as Ryuchi Hiroki and Tasumi Kumashiro. His fourth directorial work Ogya (2002) received the Netpack Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival and his seventh film Osaka Hamlet (2008) received special mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival. He writes scripts, novels, poems and stories for manga. The Dalai Lama the 14th –-  The World Champion of Peace is his first documentary film.


Production Note

Photographer Taikan Usui life’s work was on capturing the faces of those who contribute to peace in the world. In 2007, Taikan received a request from the Office of the Dalai Lama in Japan for him to video record the Buddhist monk’s visit to Japan in November.  From then on, Taikan and his son, photographer Kazuyoshi Usui, filmed the Dalai Lama during all his visits to Japan.

Kazuyoshi felt that the people of Japan, who were, in his opinion, materially satisfied but spiritually dissatisfied, would benefit from the Dalai Lama’s wisdom.  He thus conceived the idea of randomly asking people on the streets to pose questions to the Dalai Lama, who in turn would respond with his answers. A documentary in the video letter format of questions and answers was thus created.


Namo OK (sold out)

SAT 17 SEP  | 7:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere

THAILAND 2014
100 mins
NC16 (Some mature content)
Thai with English subtitles
Director: Titipong Chaisati


Synopsis

A jolly tale unravels in a small Thai temple located in the tranquil town of Petchburi, where a foreign monk is struck by lightning and stays at the temple to recover his memory.  A flurry of whimsical events ensues as he adapts to the monastic way of life, asking simple yet fundamental questions that permeate the core of Buddhist practice.

This light-hearted Thai comedy takes an unabashed look into the widespread cultural phenomenon of superstitious worshippers who flock to temples to pray out of greed and passion. Ludicrous episodes from everyday temple life show how often devotees and monks place far more importance on superficial formalities than the Buddha’s Teachings, and thus invites the viewer to laugh and reflect.


Director’s Bio

Titipong Chaisati graduated from the Communication Arts in Motion Picture and Video program at Rangsit University. He started his career as an assistant director for a number of TV series at the former iTV, Thailand’s only independent television station back then. He then went on to work on numerous feature films as assistant director and screenplay writer, before directing his debut feature film Pai in Love: Secret in 2010. He also wrote for a number of feature films including Black Night (2005), Samchuk (2009), Bangrajan 2 (2010), and Ghost Day (2012). In 2013, he directed the short film Sood Rak Plick Lock, as well as a short advertisement for the National Institute for Emergency Medicine.


Paths of the Soul

SAT 17 SEP  | 4:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere

CHINA 2015
117 mins
PG
Tibetan with English subtitles
Director: Zhang Yang
There will be a post-screening discussion with the Director


Synopsis


IMG_3155_webPaths of the Soul 
chronicles an extraordinary journey by Tibetan villagers on a gruelling 2,000 kilometre pilgrimage to the holy capital of Lhasa.

When two inhabitants of a Tibetan mountain village decide to undertake a pilgrimage to the holy city of Lhasa, nine others, including a pregnant woman and a girl, join them. As they stoically endure harsh winter conditions, physical exhaustion and the numerous hazards on the road over months, the film develops into a stirring salute to their spiritual devotion and quiet determination.

This breathtaking road movie is filmed with non-professional actors and a non-scripted narrative, blurring the boundaries between documentary and drama to create a fictionalised account of true events, woven into an absorbing and moving tale.


Director’s Bio

IMG_6861_webZhang Yang is one of the pioneers of the underground Chinese music video scene and can be ranked among the greatest of the new generation of Chinese filmmakers. After graduating in 1992 from the Central Theatre Academy in Beijing, he directed the well-known play Kiss of the Spider Woman. He made his first feature length film, Spicy Love Soup, in 1997, and won several prizes with it in China. Shower (1999) won an Audience Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Sunflower (2005) won him the award for Best Director at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.


Director’s Statement

This film tries to look for the energy given by beliefs. It also allows us, non-believers, to think about our own spiritual lives. It reminds us to never lose ourselves. And on the road we started to look for ourselves, for our convictions.

We shot this film from an altitude above 4,000 metres. We were eating and sleeping on the road. We worked literally on the road. We had to live within extreme conditions, and these for us were more complicated than actually doing the film. Because this became our lives.

At the same time this film allowed me to find new cinematographic possibilities. It was a new research and discovery of film language. It’s a fresh start. I rediscovered cinema.


Samsara (sold out)

{ Opening Film }

SAT 17 SEP  | 1:00pm  /  Singapore Premiere
FRI 23 SEP  7:00pm

USA 2013
102 mins
NC16 (Some Nudity)
Director: Ron Fricke


Synopsis

mursi_tribesgirl_webSamsara, Sanskrit for “the ever turning wheel of life”, is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives.

Filmed over a period of almost five years and in 25 countries, Samsara transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites and natural wonders. This non-verbal, non-narrative documentary film explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience.

Through powerful images photographed entirely in 70mm film, Samsara illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycles mirror the rhythm of the planet.


Director’s Bio

maxresdefault_webRon Fricke is an American film director and cinematographer, specialising in time-lapse photography and large format cinematography. He was the director of photography for Koyaanisqatsi (1982) and directed the purely cinematic non-verbal non-narrative feature Baraka (1992), in which he designed and used his own 65 mm camera equipment. He also directed the IMAX films Chronos (1985) and Sacred Site (1986). He was the cinematographer for parts of the film Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which he was hired to shoot the eruption of Mt. Etna in Sicily for use in scenes of the volcanic planet Mustafar. A sequel to Baraka, Fricke conceived Samara as a guided meditation on the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.