Festival Media Releases Classic Films About Buddhist Leaders
13 December 2005
The International Buddhist Film Festival (IBFF) launched its new DVD label, Festival Media, with the first release on DVD of two classic films about world-renown Buddhist leaders: Compassion In Exile: The Story of the 14th
Compassion In Exile, by filmmaker Mickey Lemle (Ram Dass Fierce Grace), features a score by Philip Glass and chronicles the life of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and through him the modern history of Tibet. The exiled Buddhist teacher and leader of the Tibetan people, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is seen in intimate and public settings, saying at one point, “One’s own happiness and joy depends on others; in order to achieve one’s own happiness, you should serve other people.”
Peace Is Every Step, by Gaetano Kazuo Maida, profiles Vietnamese Zen teacher and bestselling author Thich Nhat Hanh, himself a forty-year exile from his homeland who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his efforts to end the Vietnam War. Narrated by Academy Award®-winner Ben Kingsley, the film features footage from France, Vietnam and the US, including a scene at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC just prior to the 1991 Gulf War, as Thich Nhat Hanh urges then-President George H.W. Bush not to bomb Iraq: “Please do your best to prevent this war… Because once the war starts, hatred will be born, and will drag on for many, many generations.”
Presented at IBFF screenings and other festivals over the past few years, both of these films have been broadcast in several countries but never released on DVD.
Festival Media is a service of the not-for-profit IBFF, and is distributing its DVDs to national retailers like Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Borders, and Tower, as well as through targeted websites and catalogs. In what is described as a co-op arrangement, proceeds from sales of these DVDs equally benefit the work of the festival as well as the filmmakers, and often, through them, the subjects of the films. Slates of four to six films a year are planned.
“DVDs are a great way to make these films more available to audiences after we present them at our public events,” said Tana Lehr, Associate Director of the IBFF. “There are always several excellent films in the festivals that don’t have distributors and it’s our mission to do what we can to get these to as many people as possible.”