PG: Some Brief Coarse Language
Mandarin and English with English and Chinese subtitles
Directed by CHANG Chao-wei
*There will be a post-screening discussion with the film director at the end of the Premiere
**After the Premiere, the film continues to be available for online viewing until 13 September 2020, 11:59pm.
In the 1940s, as the fate of the Chinese people and the dignity of Chinese Buddhism fell into the nadir, a 14-year-old boy was ordained to be a Buddhist monk in Jiangsu Province, China. Since then he has embarked on a journey to pursue and spread the Dharma for nearly 70 years.
Master Sheng Yen cultivated himself between the Buddhist masters before him and his baby-boomer disciples, between the advanced West and the East that was running to catch up, between the gradually sophisticated secular world and the slowly weakened religious faith, and between life and death.
In the meantime, the course of his life also oscillated between conflicts and reconciliations, between tradition and innovation, between past and future, and between taking on and letting go. Instead of a propagandist style seen in conventional religious films, MASTER SHENG YEN tries to present the master’s unordinary life with a straightforward, honest and ordinary attitude, and this is exactly the sentiment that today’s world needs to embrace and say, “Thus I have heard.”
CHANG Chao-wei, from Tainan, Taiwan, used to work as an editor of Pots Weekly, editor-in-chief of South Newsletter, contributing playwright/director of PTS TW, producer of The Moving Visuals Singapore, and head of documentary center, Sun TV HK. In 2006 Chao-wei co-founded CNEX and has since been the group’s Chief Producer. Chao-wei is also currently the Chief Content Adviser of Visible Influence Pictures Beijing. His published writings include Who Are Singing Their Own Songs Over There: History of Taiwan Modern Folk Song Movements in the 1970s, Shuttling Milankun, and The Fulcrum of Reality.
MASTER SHENG YEN is the most difficult documentary film I’ve ever made. The difficulty lay not in the process of research and production but in its demand for the director’s self-cultivation, which was much higher than those of any other films in the past.
I was familiar with handling historical materials. This time, however, the film focuses not just on the real stories. I had to try showing a sense of spiritual transcendence that goes beyond this world and this life.
To me, Master Sheng Yen was an intellectual but saw further than general intellectuals. In light of the outer world, he pursued the revival of both individual and collective dignity. For his inner self, he always retained the innate authenticity he had developed since a young age.
Master Sheng Yen’s life has inspired me to see that when we can keep our authenticity in the inner cosmos while pursuing the ultimate dignity of the outer cosmos, we give ourselves the possibility to show our original face.
It is my hope that such a realisation be shared with all.