2007 IBFF Debuts in Singapore

Films from Nine Nations; Six Singapore Premieres
Opening Night Benefits Two Charities

The first International Buddhist Film Festival (IBFF) in Asia opens in Singapore, Thursday, May 17 for a four day run. Showcasing a diverse program with the theme “Medium of Reflection” the 2007 IBFF features works from nine nations, with six Singapore premieres.

The opening night film is the Singapore premiere of the award-winning Shower, by Zhang Yang, from China. A portion of the proceeds from the opening night program will benefit two Singapore charities, The President’s Challenge and Children’s Cancer Foundation, and the guest of honor is Singapore’s Minister for Health, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan.

Ranging from dramas and comedies to documentaries and animation, the IBFF includes the Singapore premiere of the recent AFI Festival Grand Jury Prize winner, Buddha’s Lost Children, a Dutch documentary filmed in Thailand about a former Thai boxer turned Buddhist monk who builds an orphanage, school and clinic–a haven for the children of that strife-ridden region.

Among the other Singapore premieres are rare screenings of Buddhist-themed episodes of international hit television shows The Simpsons, and King of the Hill, along with films from China, Bhutan, India, Canada, England and the US. Several of the filmmakers are traveling to Singapore to be on hand for Q & A sessions following their films. A guest speaker, British-born monk Venerable Ajahn Brahm, will give a talk on Sunday, May 20.

Three films connected with noted Bhutan-born Tibetan lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche will be shown. Two dramatic features he directed, The Cup, and Travellers & Magicians, were filmed on location in India and Bhutan respectively. The third is the Singapore premiere of a documentary by Canadian Leslie Ann Patton, Words of My Perfect Teacher, which follows him from the World Cup in Europe all the way to Bhutan in search of a better understanding of the teacher-student relationship in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Asian premiere of renowned German Director Doris Dörrie’s new feature-length documentary How to Cook Your Life will be screened on Sunday, May 20. This profile of San Francisco chef, author and Zen priest Edward Espe Brown explores principles of Zen Buddhism as they apply to the preparation of food as well as life itself. The award-winning Dörrie’s comedy Enlightenment Guaranteed, filmed on location in a Japanese Zen monastery, will be screened on May 19.

The IBFF is presented by Singapore’s Asian Buddhist Film Festival (ABFF), a newly formed organization dedicated to this emerging cinema arena. “The festival has been organized to encourage fresh thinking through contemporary reflections on Buddhist ideas, using the internationally potent medium of film. We want to make these films, some of which are not readily available, more accessible to wider audiences,” said Bhavna Vedhara, Executive Director of ABFF.

The ABFF is in strategic partnership with Buddhist Film Society (BFS), the independent non-profit educational organization based in Oakland, California that founded the IBFF in 2000. BFS’s Advisory Council includes Philip Glass, Lisa Lu, Richard Gere, Maxine Hong Kingston, Robert Thurman and Alice Walker. The Singapore IBFF comes after successful IBFF presentations in Los Angeles, Washington, DC and San Francisco in the US, and Amsterdam in Holland.

BFS, through its International Buddhist Film Festival and Festival Media distribution service, offers cinema as a vehicle for wider appreciation and better understanding of Buddhism by general audiences, particularly for the remarkable ethnic and cultural diversity evident among Buddhists worldwide today. “Many of the filmmakers aren’t Buddhists. They’re all artists exploring issues and ideas that are in alignment with any of the wisdom traditions that value compassion. These films can change the way people see the world,” said IBFF’s Executive Director, Gaetano Kazuo Maida, who will be attending.

Works are chosen through a combination of program committee invitations as well as through international Call For Entries solicitations. The films include English language or subtitled works from all over the world, and embrace a very broad and fluid definition of “Buddhist.”

Visit the ABFF website for more information about the IBFF program in Singapore, including screening schedule, locations and ticket sales.