Buddhist Film Archive

The first independent Buddhist Film Archive is being developed at UC Berkeley in collaboration with the Center for Buddhist Studies (CBS) there.

The creation of a film archive has been central to the mission of BFF since its founding. Assembling, preserving and restoring (when necessary) a collection of the best Buddhist themed films, and making them available for research, reference and viewing, are key components of the work of BFF. Locating on campus facilitates curriculum and public program opportunities with CBS.

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the number of qualified new works produced worldwide, and older, hitherto unknown works continue to surface. It is expected that these numbers will continue to grow.

A core collection of films from past International Buddhist Film Festival events has been assembled and is being steadily augmented with new works. A complete BFA program offering opportunities for film sponsorship and support will be launched in the coming year.

Even while new works are appearing, there is a sense of urgency in light of major cultural and political shifts around the world, particularly in the Asian countries with the deepest connections to Buddhist traditions. Civil strife and population dislocations often disrupt access to creative culture. In addition, programmers can encounter difficulties in obtaining film prints of works, even relatively recently released titles. The issue here is economic: the cost of maintaining a print inventory for films without ongoing commercial opportunities is simply too much for many smaller producers and/or distributors to bear, and damaged or worn prints are removed from circulation and not replaced; staff are not maintained to service print requests.

Current standards and best practices for media archives are constantly evolving and at an increasingly rapid pace. Technological changes, especially digital formats and solutions, render works and formats obsolete in product cycles measured in years not decades (as previously with film emulsions, gauges, speeds, aspect ratios, etc.). Maintaining the ability to store and safely preserve works in their original formats while continuing to make them available for access by all stakeholders is the work of a contemporary archive.

Seed funding for the BFA was supported in part by a grant from The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.