IBFF 2013 VANCOUVER Full Schedule

Vancouver International Film Festival-Vancity Theatre logoIBFF 2013 VANCOUVER will take place in Vancouver, BC, July 26–August 1. Co-presented by Buddhist Film Foundation and the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre, this is the first time in Vancouver—and Canada—for the IBFF.

A diverse program of fifteen films from China, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Argentina, US, UK, and Canada will be presented. Featuring two Vancouver premieres, eight Canadian premieres, and one Special Preview Presentation, the program includes treasures from the IBFF archive, documentaries, dramatic features, a murder mystery, a Johnny Depp western, and another chance to catch the recent hit, Samsara, on the big screen.

A number of filmmakers will appear via Skype for live Q&A at their screenings. For ticketing and venue information, please visit Vancity Theatre.


O Canada Presentation
Shugendo Now
Directed by Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire
Japan, Canada / 2010 / Japanese with English subtitles / 88 min / Documentary
Friday, July 26, 7:00 pm
Live Skype Q&A with directors Mark Patrick McGuire and Jean-Marc Abela

[man with shaved head suspended out over mountain side]There is a unique school of Japanese asceticism called Shugendo, the Way of Acquiring Power, a blend of Shinto, Daoism and Buddhism. Practitioners perform arduous rituals in mountain wildernesses and are deeply committed to protecting the natural environment. Shugendo practitioners take guidance and inspiration from semi-legendary 7th century mystic En no Ozunu (or En no Gyoja), who is venerated as a bodhisattva. Shugendo is not one isolated tradition but various expressions of spiritual practice that share common practices and similar aims.

Shugendo Now is a poetic and intimate journey into a rarely seen world between the developed and the wild, between the present and the infinite.
Filmed on location in the Japanese mountains of Kumano and Yoshino, Tokyo and Osaka.


Mindfulness and Murder
Directed by Tom Waller
Thailand / 2011 / Thai with English subtitles / 90 min / Dramatic Feature
Friday, July 26, 9:00 pm
Live Skype Q&A with director Tom Waller

[younger Thai monk bows to senior monk]Thai-English director Tom Waller takes on one of the popular Father Ananda mystery novels. Former cop Ananda is now a senior monk and is asked by the abbot to solve a murder inside his monastery because the police don’t want to get involved. Not everything in the monastery is what it should be…


The Buddha
Directed by David Grubin
USA / 2010 / English / 112 min plus panel discussion / Documentary
Narrated by Richard Gere
Saturday, July 27, 3:30 pm
Panel discussion to follow the screening: features IBFF Executive Director Gaetano Kazuo Maida in conversation with Dorothy Woodend (film critic for The Tyee) and Douglas Todd (columnist for The Vancouver Sun).

[stone sculpture of Buddha head in meditation]An ambitious and imaginative film that uses animation and contemporary voices including poets Jane Hirshfield and US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman to explore the life and meaning of the man who became “awake,” and who continues to inspire the diverse Buddhist traditions all over the world.

Filmed on location in India, Nepal, and the US.


Directed by Tsering Rhitar Sherpa
Nepal / 2006 / Tibetan with English subtitles / 105 min / Dramatic Feature
Saturday, July 27, 7:00 pm

[joyful young nun extends arms overhead as wrap blows in the wind]In a remote nunnery a revered abbess dies. Prayers and rituals must be performed but the nunnery has no money. A nun, Karma, must journey to find the man who may owe a debt.

Filmed in the remote Himalayan region of Mustang, we follow Karma to Kathmandu where she discovers that things are not what she thought.

Dead Man
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
USA / 1995/ English / 121 min / Dramatic Feature
Saturday, July 27, 9:00 pm

Johnny Depp, wearing a bear skin coat and John Bull Topper hat, stares out with a glazed look]In this rarely screened masterpiece, Johnny Depp plays a 19th century greenhorn from the east who heads west by train. His journey takes a turn from civilization as he knows it to a nebulous realm of Native American spirit, and reality seems to slip away. With Robert Mitchum, John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne, Iggy Pop and Gary Farmer; original soundtrack by Neil Young.


Olo, The Boy From Tibet
Directed by Hisaya Iwasa
Japan / 2012 / Japanese and Tibetan with English subtitles / 108 min / Documentary
Sunday, July 28, 5:00 pm

[young Tibetan boy and old Tibetan woman smile and press foreheads in greeting]Six-year-old Olo is sent away from Tibet to India by his mother so he can get an education. Now a student at the famed Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala (founded by Jetsun Pema, sister of the Dalai Lama), he has to make his way in a world quite different from his own. Director Hisaya Iwasa takes a creative and intimate approach to telling this true story.

Dedicated to the memory of director Hisaya Iwasa, who recently died in a tragic accident.


Directed by Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham
UK, Japan / 2011 / Japanese with English subtitles / 86 min / Documentary
Sunday, July 28, 7:15 pm
Live Skype Q&A with co-directors Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham

Japanese man vocalizes while holding instrument tied with red cordA mysterious and engaging journey through sound, song, story, ritual, performance, nature, tradition and Japanese Buddhism… A fearless merging of medieval and modern, beautifully filmed with a variety of cinematic techniques on location in Japan. “Kanzeon” is another way of saying Kannon (Chinese: Kuanyin), the embodiment of compassion, and can also be written in Japanese as “to see sounds.”


Directed by Ron Fricke
USA / 2011/ English / 102 min / Documentary
Sunday, July 28, 9:00 pm

[young Asian girl poses with a fan of other dancers' arms behind her]Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Conceived as a guided meditation on the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, Samsara is audiovisual poetry. Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and brilliantly shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. From the filmmakers of Baraka.


Un Buda
Directed by Diego Rafecas
Argentina / 2005 / Spanish with English subtitles / 115 min / Dramatic Feature
Monday, July 29, 6:30 pm

[view of a man's back as he stares at crashing waves]Un Buda is the brilliant feature film debut of director Diego Rafecas, a Zen teacher in Argentina. The film follows two brothers orphaned as children when their parents were taken by the military during the “Dirty Wars” of the 1970s in Argentina. Tomas (Agustin Markert) is now a drifting and withdrawn young man who experiments with ascetic practices and has an instinctive compassion for others. His older brother Rafael, played by Rafecas, is a university philosophy professor, detached and alone. Their struggles with each other and the world around them in Buenos Aires take a dramatic turn when they find themselves at a rural Zen center. Un Buda expands our sense of Buddhism in the world today.


Crazy Wisdom
Directed by Johanna Demetrakas
USA / 2011 / English / 92 min / Documentary
Tuesday, July 30, 6:30 pm
Live Skype Q&A with director Johanna Dematrakas

[bare chested man with cigarette, with blonde woman smiling at his side]This feature documentary explores the life, teachings, and “crazy wisdom” of the late Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a pivotal figure in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Raised and trained in the rigorous Tibetan monastic tradition, Trungpa shattered preconceived notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave—he openly smoked, drank, and had intimate relations with students—yet his teachings are recognized as authentic, vast, and influential. Allen Ginsberg considered him his guru; Thomas Merton wanted to write a book with him; Joni Mitchell wrote a song about him. Trungpa taught Buddhism as though it were a matter of life and death.

Filmed in the UK, Tibet, Canada, and the US, twenty years after Trungpa’s death (in Halifax, Nova Scotia), with unprecedented access and exclusive archival material.


O Canada Presentation
Words of My Perfect Teacher
Directed by Lesley Ann Patten
Canada / 2003 / English / 101 min / Documentary
Tenth Anniversary Screening
Tuesday, July 30, 8:30 pm

[monk gestures to camera as companion stares upwardly]From the World Cup in Germany to the remote Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, three students are on a quest they hope will lead to wisdom. The catch is…the teacher. Soccer obsessed, charismatic filmmaker, and citizen of the world, Khyentse Norbu may be one of the most eminent Tibetan Buddhist teachers, but it’s a job description he slyly seems to reject at every turn.

Filmed on location in the UK, Bhutan, Canada, the US, and Germany. Featuring appearances by Bernardo Bertolucci, Gesar Mukpo and Steven Seagal, and music by Sting, Tara Slone and Joydrop, Steve Tibbetts, u:man:tek, Kunga 19, and others.


Focus: China Presentation
Amongst White Clouds
Directed by Edward A. Burger
China / 2005 / English and Mandarin with English subtitles / 86 min / Documentary
Wednesday, July 31, 6:30 pm

[old, grey bearded Chinese man speaks and gestures to camera]Amongst White Clouds is an intimate insider’s look at students and masters living in scattered retreats dotting China’s Zhongnan Mountain range. These peaks have reputedly been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some 5,000 years ago. It was widely thought that the tradition was all but wiped out, but this film emphatically and beautifully shows us otherwise.

Inspired in part by the noted book by Bill Porter (Red Pine), Road To Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits, and filmed on location in China by American Director Edward A. Burger, the film takes an unforgettable journey into the hidden tradition of China’s Buddhist hermit monks.

One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these elusive practitioners, Burger is able, with humor and compassion, to present their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives among the clouds.


Focus: China Presentation
Winter Cicadas
Directed by Zhou HongBo
China / 2013 / English / Mandarin and French with English subtitles / 86 min / Dramatic Feature
Wednesday, July 31, 8:30 pm
Live Skype Q&A with director Zhou HongBo

[young Asian man with glasses stares out while looked at by an older Asian woman]A young filmmaker returns to China from study abroad, speaking French on the phone. He journeys from the bustling metropolis of Shanghai to a remote monastery on Tian-Mu Mountain where he’s reunited with his mother after a tragic fire. A subtle, intimate and mysterious study in contrasts that touches on family, loss, guilt, and creativity. Here is a China in transition, with confusion and alienation along with the steady beat of Buddhist chants.

Digital Dharma
Directed by Dafna Yachin
USA / 2012 / English / 90 min / Documentary
Thursday, August 1, 6:30 pm
Live Skype Q&A with director Dafna Yachin

[seated Gene Smith listening to man in front of computer monitor with two men looking on]Against all odds, E. Gene Smith, a Mormon, pacifist and Buddhist organized a mission to rescue the written legacy of the Tibetan culture even as it was threatened with destruction and loss. The film documents his amazing efforts which set in motion an ongoing project to preserve, digitize and translate 20,000 volumes of Tibetan literature, from medicine and history to poetry and Buddhist texts.


When the Iron Bird Flies
Directed by Victress Hitchcock
USA / 2012 / English / 96 min plus discussion / Documentary
Thursday, August 1, 8:30 pm
Live Skype Q&A with director Victress Hitchcock

[seated female student is greeted in gasho by seated Anam Thubten in light filled room]In 1959 a great migration from Tibet was violently set in motion. The Dalai Lama was joined in exile by thousands of refugees, among them some of the most important Tibetan Buddhist teachers, opening a window on what had been a hidden realm. Through interviews rare archival footage, the film offers an insider’s view of Tibetan Buddhism as it is manifesting beyond its original home.


For ticketing and venue information, please visit Vancity Theatre.