IBFF Showcase 2010 Full Schedule

The International Buddhist Film Festival has returned to the Bay Area with IBFF Showcase 2010, presented by Buddhist Film Foundation with California Film Institute and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Presenting premieres and rarities, along with special guests, this showcase highlights the global diversity of Buddhist culture and experience, and offers a singular opportunity to catch some rare gems of filmmaking.

WHEN & WHERE

December 2nd to December 9th at Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, Marin
December 9th to 19th at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER SCHEDULE

Thursday, December 2, 7:30 pm
I Am
SNEAK PREVIEW
In Person: Director Tom Shadyac, Marc Barasch

Director Tom Shadyac is best known for his comedies (Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective). This inspiring film takes us on his personal journey to understand compassion and meaning after a life-changing accident. Marc Barasch (author of Field Notes on the Compassionate Life) is featured along with Desmond Tutu, Coleman Barks, Lynn McTaggart, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Marilyn Schlitz, David Suzuki and others.

Director: Tom Shadyac
Country: USA
Running time: 78 min
Interview w/the Director | LA Times Article on I Am


Friday, December 3, 6:30 pm
Seeing Searching Being
WEST COAST THEATRICAL PREMIERE

Additional screening Sunday, December 19, 2:00 pm at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

William Segal, a philosopher, publisher, writer and painter, was a student of such diverse teachers as G.I. Gurdjieff and D.T. Suzuki, and a close friend of the renowned Paul Reps (Zen Flesh, Zen Bones). In the last decade of his life, Segal and noted filmmaker Ken Burns became friends, and the two collaborated on this unique trilogy of short films. Filmed on location in France and the US.

Director: Ken Burns
Country: USA
Running time: 73 min
Watch the Trailer


Friday, December 3, 8:15 pm
Tulku
WEST COAST PREMIERE
In Person: Professor Steven Goodman, Asian Studies, California Institute Integral Studies

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a tulku is a new incarnation of a deceased master. (The 14th Dalai Lama is perhaps the most well known of this unique designation.) Gesar Mukpo, a son of the renowned Tibetan lama Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (himself a tulku), was born in the US in the 1970s and was identified as the tulku of a famous Tibetan lama of the 19th century. He is seen in the film Words of My Perfect Teacher riding a skateboard and playing basketball, offering to auction his title on eBay to the highest bidder. This personal film lets him tell his own life story and explore what it might mean to be considered a tulku, with conversations with other contemporary tulkus living in the US and Canada.

Director: Gesar Mukpo
Country: Canada
Running time: 76 min
Watch the Trailer


Saturday, December 4, 2:00 pm
Monkey King At Spider Cave
WORLD PREMIERE
In Person: Filmmaker Larry Reed

“monkeyMonkey King at Spider Cave, inspired by an episode from Journey to the West, the beloved 16th century Chinese epic (itself based on the true story of the 7th century monk Xuanzang), unfolds an adventure of a Buddhist high priest and his animal disciples in their quest to bring Buddhist scriptures to China. The Monkey King character is popular for being cunning and acrobatic, but with a playful and childish attitude that hides great wisdom. Monkey King at Spider Cave features 19 performers and musicians from Taipei and the San Francisco Bay Area. This Buddhist parable of good/evil and struggle/perseverance is a rare blend of tradition and innovation that culminates in a remarkable work of shadow theater.

Director: Larry Reed
Country: USA
Running time: 48 min

With:
Walking With Kukai
US PREMIERE

In 805 CE, Kukai, a Japanese monk and scholar, had a dream that took him to China where he received initiation. He returned to Japan to found the Shingon (True Word) school of Buddhism. A centuries-old 1100-kilometer path through 88 temples on Shikoku Island is traversed to this day by over a hundred thousand pilgrims yearly, who follow in Kukai’s footsteps. This intimate and touching short film casually joins some of them on this journey.

Director: Patrick van Boeckel
Country: Japan/Netherlands
Running time: 30 min

And:
Alms
US PREMIERE

“A day without labor is a day without food.” –Master Baizhang, Tang dynasty

A cinematic tour through a remote mountain Chan/Zen Buddhist monastery in southern China, guided by the community’s Head Cook as he explains the traditional cultivation, distribution and ritual offering of food in this Buddhist community. We follow the gathering of local fuels and farmed vegetables, and witness how living members of this community work in harmony with elements of their physical environment in a centuries old lineage of meditation in action. Burger’s camera itself is a contemplative gateway into the beauty and peace at the heart of the practice.

Director: Edward Burger
Country: China
Running time: 23 min


Saturday, December 4, 4:45 pm
Brilliant Moon
BAY AREA PREMIERE

Director Neten Chokling (Milarepa) skillfully uses animation, narration and location filming to profile the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, widely considered to be one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 20th century. A key teacher of the 14th Dalai Lama, and strong advocate for the rime, or non-sectarian, approach to preserving and teaching Buddhist philosophy and practice, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was one of the very few of the last generation to be born and trained in a free Tibet to escape (he resided in Bhutan, the last independent Buddhist kingdom), and he has had a major influence on many contemporary teachers and students around the world. Narrated by Richard Gere and Lou Reed.

Director: Neten Chokling
Country: India
Running time: 56 min
Watch the Trailer

With:
The Devotion Of Matthieu Ricard
US PREMIERE

Nearly forty years ago Matthieu Ricard left his native France and a promising career in cellular genetics to become a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in Nepal. He is now a translator, photographer, bestselling author, and an active participant in scientific research on the effects of meditation on the brain. This intimate portrait journeys with Matthieu as he continues the work of his late teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, in the Himalayas, and as he serves as translator for the Dalai Lama in Europe and participates in scientific research there. His vivid photography and accessible stories of a monk’s life in the Himalayas feature throughout.

Directors: George Schouten and Babeth M. VanLoo
Country: India/Netherlands
Running time: 67 min
Watch the Trailer


Saturday, December 4, 7:30 pm
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
In Person: Wes Nisker
WEST COAST PREMIERE

The 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winner is a dreamlike drama woven around the recollections of an old man in the countryside. The film has deep roots in Thai pop cultural history and director Weerasethakul (Syndromes and a Century) mixes in references to old Thai TV, comic books and classic Thai cinema along with moments of surreal humor. The performances by lead actors Thanapat Saisaymar (as Uncle Boonmee) and Jenjira Pongpas are riveting, and the film immerses us in the confusion, wonder and curiosity of a spiritual seeker.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Country: Thailand
Running time: 114 min
Watch the Trailer | London Guardian Article


Sunday, December 5, 2:00 pm
Sky Dancer
WEST COAST PREMIERE

Kunzang Wangmo is the matriarch and spiritual leader of a remote area on the Tibetan plateau, one of very few women ever to receive a position of power in modern Tibetan Buddhism. She is honored with the title Khandroma (skydancer), the female embodiment of enlightened energy. She is also the descendant of two significant and highly respected masters of Tibetan Buddhism. The film is an inside look at the daily life and journey of this extraordinary woman who is a living example of wisdom and compassion, offering teachings to Tibetans and Chinese together as equals.

Director: Jody Kemmerer
Country: Tibet/USA
Running time: 45 min
Watch the Trailer

With:
In the Shadow of the Buddha
WEST COAST PREMIERE
In Person: Filmmaker Heather Kessinger

In the Shadow of Buddha takes us to the seldom seen world of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in northernmost India. Through the voices and stories of old women and young novices, we explore the paradox that being a woman within Tibetan Buddhism represents. For these women the notion that a woman can be educated and that being born a female is not a punishment of past deeds is currently challenging thousands of years of history. This is a film that confronts our platitudes, our narration, and our gender stereotypes.

Director: Heather Kessinger
Country: India/USA
Running time: 46 min
Watch the Trailer


Sunday, December 5, 4:30 pm
Bodhisattva
US PREMIERE
In Person: Filmmaker Mark Elliott

The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa is widely seen as a likely successor to the role of Tibetan Buddhist leader in the event of the retirement or death of the 14th Dalai Lama. Bodhissatva interweaves footage shot on his historic tour of the US, with background footage of his childhood in Tibet, sequences in Dharamsala, India, and rare archival footage of the previous, Sixteenth, Karmapa.

Director: Mark Elliott
Country: USA
Running time: 58 min

With:
Arising Light: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
and the Birth of a New Era in India

BAY AREA PREMIERE

Dr. Ambedkar was one of the founding fathers of India’s independence, helping frame its constitution and serving as its first Minister of Law in 1947. He was a Hindu dalit, an Untouchable, and in 1956 led an unprecedented mass conversion to Buddhism with hundreds of thousands of other dalits in a public event in Nagpur, India. Arising Light tells his story and follows this movement to liberate dalits from the oppression of their Hindu caste status as it evolves into a dynamic social phenomenon now over fifty years old.

Director: David Blundell
Country: India/USA
Running time: 28 min
Watch the Trailer


Sunday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie
In Person: Wavy Gravy and Filmmaker Michelle Esrick

Michelle Esrick’s joyful portrait of countercultural icon and humanitarian Wavy Gravy travels from Greenwich Village, California and Woodstock to behind the Iron Curtain and the Himalayas. Wavy’s life is his message, serving as inspiration that we can change the world and have fun doing it (and have a loving family too). Featuring: rare archival footage plus appearances by Dr. Larry Brilliant, The Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Ram Das, Jackson Browne, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Odetta, Patch Adams, and much more!

Director: Michelle Esrick
Country: USA
Running time: 86 min
Watch the Trailer


Monday, December 6, 7:00 pm
Shugendo Now
US PREMIERE
In Person: Filmmakers Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire

Additional screening Thursday, December 9, 7:30 pm at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

There is a unique school of Japanese asceticism called shugendo, the Way of Acquiring Power, a blend of Shinto, Daoism and Buddhism. Followers practice arduous rituals in mountain wildernesses and are deeply committed to protecting the natural environment. The film 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 Japan’s Kumano Mountains, Tokyo and Osaka.

Directors: Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire
Country: Japan/Canada
Running time: 88 min
Watch the Trailer


Tuesday, December 7, 7:00 pm
Silent Holy Stones
In Person: Robert Sharf, Center for Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley

The feature film debut of a Tibetan writer/director from the Beijing Film Academy, this charming and intimate look at life in a Tibetan village (the filmmaker’s own) follows a young lama assigned as attendant to a seven-year-old “Living Buddha” (tulku) of a mountain monastery. In the tradition of neo-realism, all of the performers are non-professional actors (most are actual monks from the monastery at the center of the story). While this shares some elements with the comedy The Cup, Silent Holy Stones uses its unique access and insights to subtly reveal a complex and dynamic culture in the Tibetan communities in China today.

Director: Pema Tseden
Country: China/Tibet
Running time: 102 min


Wednesday, December 8, 7:00 pm
The Buddha
In Person: Jane Hirshfield

The story of Buddha, the 6th century BCE prince who became a great spiritual teacher, has been told in many ways and media. This is an ambitious and imaginative film by veteran documentary director David Grubin (RFK, FDR, LBJ, The Jewish Americans, Napoleon), narrated by Richard Gere, that uses contemporary voices including poets Jane Hirshfield and US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman, as well as animation, to explore the life and meaning of the man who became “awake” and continues to inspire the diverse Buddhist cultures all over the world. Filmed on location in India, Nepal and the US.

Director: David Grubin
Country: USA
Running time: 112 min
Watch the Trailer


Thursday, December 9, 7:00 pm
Zen
SF PREMIERE
In Person: Kaz Tanahashi, artist and editor/translator of The True Dharma Eye, The Shobo Genzo of Dogen

From pilgrimages to China to armed monks at war, the Kamakura Era was a time of upheaval in Japan and saw the beginnings of both the Rinzai and Soto schools of Zen, and the arrival of tea. The country would never be the same again. Zen is a poignant, in-depth, reverent and surprisingly moving portrait of Dogen, the great 13th century Japanese Buddhist master. He studied at Buddhist centers in China and established a monastic practice which emphasizes sitting meditation; he is regarded as the founder of the Soto school of Zen. Filmed on location in Japan, impressively well-researched and produced with great attention to authentic detail.

Director: Banmei Takahashi
Country: Japan
Running time: 127 min

Tickets may be purchased at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.
Ticket prices for each program: $12 general, $10 seniors, $8 CFI members.
Please note that Rafael passes and matinee prices are not applicable for these programs.


YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS SCHEDULE

Thursday, December 9, 7:30 pm
Shugendo Now
In Person: Filmmakers Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire

There is a unique school of Japanese asceticism called shugendo, the Way of Acquiring Power, a blend of Shinto, Daoism and Buddhism. Followers practice arduous rituals in mountain wildernesses and are deeply committed to protecting the natural environment. The film 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 Japan’s Kumano Mountains, Tokyo and Osaka.

Directors: Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire
Country: Japan/Canada
Running time: 88 min
Watch the Trailer


Sunday, December 12, 2:00 pm
Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden

Sumptuously photographed on 35mm film, Dream Window offers us the art of the Japanese garden as we’ve never seen or appreciated it before. Written by Japan native (and current president of Japan Society Boston) Peter Grilli, and scored by the late Japanese master composer Toru Takemitsu; this is a rare public screening of a contemporary classic.

Director: John Junkerman
Country: Japan/USA
Running time: 58 min

With:
Inland Sea
In Person: Hiro Narita, cinematographer

Based on famed Japan commentator Donald Richie’s book of the same name, and is narrated by him; the great NY Times reviewer Vincent Canby said “nearly everything the camera finds prompts contemplation” and Hiro Narita’s cinematography is the key to the striking and often surprising view of a very different Japan than is usually seen in media here. Canby adds, “the minutely observed details of a particular time and place are only the initial excuse for what becomes, at last, a meditation on the meaning of history and the peculiarities of civilization.”

Director: Lucille Carra
Country: Japan/USA 1991
Running time: 56 min
Watch the Trailer


Thursday, December 16, 7:30 pm
Lucia Rijker: Boxer, Buddhist
US PREMIERE

Undefeated boxer and kickboxer Lucia Rijker has been dubbed “the Most Dangerous Woman in the World”—she played opposite (and trained) Hilary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby, she can speak four languages…and she’s a Buddhist. Director George Schouten brings us into the turbulent period of choices following her big-screen success. Rijker shares herself intimately, discussing the seeming dichotomy of her Buddhist path with the raw violence of boxing.

Director: George Schouten
Country: Netherlands
Running time: 73 min


Sunday, December 19, 2:00 pm
Seeing Searching Being
In Person: Dr. Jacob Needleman

William Segal, a philosopher, publisher, writer and painter, was a student of such diverse teachers as G.I. Gurdjieff and D.T. Suzuki, and a close friend of the renowned Paul Reps (Zen Flesh, Zen Bones). In the last decade of his life, Segal and noted filmmaker Ken Burns became friends, and the two collaborated on this unique trilogy of short films. Filmed on location in France and the US.

Director: Ken Burns
Country: USA
Running time: 73 min
Watch the Trailer

Dr. Needleman, the author of numerous books and Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State College and former director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, was a friend and associate of William Segal for many years.

Tickets may be purchased through Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.