IBFF Continues 10th Anniversary Season in London

The International Buddhist Film Festival continues its tenth anniversary season with its first IBFF in London since 2009. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is the sponsor for IBFF 2012 LONDON, which is presented in conjunction with the Buddhist Art Forum being held at The Courtauld Institute of Art. The five day IBFF, April 11–15, 2012, will be at the Apollo Piccadilly Circus.


Shugendo Now
Directed by Jean-Marc Abela and Mark Patrick McGuire
Japan, Canada / 2010 / Japanese with English subtitles / 88 min / Documentary
Wednesday, April 11, 6:30 pm
Buy tickets here.

[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. 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.

The Buddha
Directed by David Grubin
USA / 2010 / English / 112 min / Documentary
Narrated by Richard Gere
Wednesday, April 11, 8:45 pm
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[stone sculpture of Buddha head in meditation]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. The film features location footage plus 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 continues to inspire the diverse Buddhist cultures all over the world. Filmed on location in India, Nepal and the US.

Mindfulness and Murder
Directed by Tom Waller
Thailand / 2011 / Thai with English subtitles / 90 min / Dramatic Feature
Thursday, April 12, 6:30 pm
Director expected to attend
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[younger Thai monk bows to senior monk]The body of a dead homeless youth turns up in a Bangkok monastery and the police don’t want to get involved. Former homicide detective Father Ananda is now a senior monk and is asked by the abbot to solve the murder. Based on a novel by Bangkok resident Nick Wilgis, the film explores the intimate world of a Thai Buddhist monastery while following the rules of a classic whodunit. And as usual, not everything turns out to be what it at first seems. Starring Vithaya Pansringarm as Father Ananda, with two pop music personalities in leading roles, Prinya “Way” Intachai, one of the rappers in Thaitanium, and Charina Sirisinha of the ZaZa.

Directed by Tsering Rhitar Sherpa
Nepal / 2006 / Tibetan with English subtitles / 104 min / Dramatic Feature
Thursday, April 12, 8:45 pm
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[joyful young nun extends arms overhead as wrap blows in the wind]A road movie with Tibetan Buddhist nuns: an intimate story that begins behind the walls of a nunnery in remote Mustang. Karma is a free-spirited nun, and when the abbess dies, there’s an urgent need for money to pay for the rites after her death; Karma is assigned to go with another nun to try to retrieve funds on loan to a mysterious man once known to the abbess. Her search, and her journey within, take us to Kathmandu, and beyond the obvious, beyond expectations, even beyond Buddhism at one point. She gets some advice along the way, “You’re desperately after something… you won’t get it, but you won’t fail.” And the movies play a part, of course. A rare and intriguing glimpse into the inner life of Tibetan nuns in a changing world. (Karma also means “actions”…) Starring Tsering Dolkar, Ani Yeshi Lhamo, Mithila Sharma and Jampa Kalsang.

The Great Pilgrim
Directed by Jin Tiemu
China / 2009 / Chinese with English subtitles / 98 min / Documentary
Friday, April 13, 6:30 pm
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[man walks desert with pack animal as sun blazes from behind]One of the most celebrated journeys in history is that of Tang dynasty Chinese monk Xuanzang. His quest to obtain original Buddhist texts took him on a nineteen year pilgrimage to India where he studied for several years at the famous Nalanda University. Upon his return to China in 645, bearing many Sanskrit texts, he was sponsored by Emperor Taizang to translate all the texts into Chinese and to record the story of his journey. His autobiography, Great Tang Records of the Western Region, is considered so accurate in its observations that it is consulted by archeologists and historians to this day. It is also the inspiration for the many popular Journey to the West and Monkey stories in novels, comic books, and animated and live action films and television from several countries in Asia. Reenactments, location filming and animation are compellingly deployed in The Great Pilgrim to introduce a truly legendary figure.

Hi Dharma!
Directed by Kwan Park
Korea / 2001 / Korean with English subtitles / 95 min / Dramatic Feature
Friday, April 13, 8:45 pm
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Korean monks scrammbling to keep water in a broken urnIn the middle of a turf war, five big city gang brothers seek refuge in a rural Buddhist monastery, and the contrasts loom large. First-time director Kwan Park skillfully plays with these conventions while avoid­ing the predictable in this legendary comedy from Korea. The head monk (veteran Korean actor Kim In-moon) bears himself with dignity and reserve as the younger monks display an assortment of reactions to the intrusion and provocations from the outside world. But the gangsters are on unfamiliar ground too, and subtle transformations begin to unfold all around—not always as expected. The simplicity and solidity of the contemporary monastery envi­ronment are intriguing. These are the deep roots of Korean culture, and the collision with contemporary urban elements is very much a part of the modern dilemma there (and elsewhere…).

Directed by Gesar Mukpo
Canada / 2010 / English / 76 min / Documentary
Saturday, April 14, 3:00 pm
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[man stares wistfully with head resting on folded arms]At age three, Gesar Tsewang Arthur Mukpo, son of renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his British wife Diana, was identified as the reincarnation of the late Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, one of his father’s own teachers in Tibet. Living in Boulder, Colorado and then Halifax, Nova Scotia, Gesar balanced competing cultures and strikingly different definitions of self. His life was far from that of an ordinary contemporary American or Canadian—his father was a world famous Buddhist teacher and author—but there was no monastery upbringing like that of perhaps the best known tulku, the Dalai Lama, or even like his father. The film goes beyond autobiography to explore the Tibetan tradition of recognition of reincarnations of Buddhist teachers. Other non-Tibetan tulkus are interviewed as well as renowned Tibetan teachers including Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and H.H. Ogyen Trinley the 17th Karmapa.

Crazy Wisdom
Directed by Johanna Demetrakas
USA / 2011 / English / 92 min / Documentary
Saturday, April 14, 6:30 pm
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[bare chested man with cigarette, with blonde woman smiling at his side]This is the long-awaited feature documentary that explores the life, teachings, and “crazy wisdom” of 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. Trungpa taught Buddhism as though it were a matter of life and death. Allen Ginsberg considered him his guru; Thomas Merton wanted to write a book with him; Joni Mitchell wrote a song about him. Filmed in the UK, Tibet, Canada, and the US, twenty years after Trungpa’s death, with unprecedented access and exclusive archival material.

My Reincarnation
Directed by Jennifer Fox
Italy, USA / 2011 / English, Italian, and Tibetan with English subtitles / 82 min / Documentary
Saturday, April 14, 8:45 pm
Director expected to attend
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[man with goggles and snorkel floating in ocean]Working with over a thousand hours of remarkable footage taken over an unprecedented twenty year span with extraordinary access to Tibetan Buddhist teacher Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, My Reincarnation is the intimate story of a father and son, tradition and change, dreams and realities, destiny and desire, and Tibetan Buddhism in the contemporary world. Director Jennifer Fox is a veteran world-class filmmaker with a number of award-winning productions to her credit including Beirut: The Last Home Movie, An American Love Story and Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman. Filmed on location in Italy, China and fifteen other countries.


Aung San Suu Kyi: Lady of No Fear
Directed by Anne-Gyrithe Bonne
Denmark / 2012 / English / 64 min / Documentary
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snapshot of Aung San Suu Kyi with husband Michael ArisCompelling and fascinating glimpses into the life of the Nobel Laureate. This new film details some of the consequences her freedom struggle has had, not only for her, but also for her closest friends and family, as she emerges from years of detention to take her place again at the forefront of her country’s transition to democracy.

Into the Current
Directed by Jeanne Hallacy
Myanmar, Thailand, USA / 2011 / English and Burmese with English
subtitles / 76 min / Documentary
This film screens as a double feature with Aung San Suu Kyi: Lady of No Fear.

woman's hands shown holding a photograph of Aung San Suu KyiThis film honors the leaders of Burma’s nonviolent democracy movement and their personal sacrifices for the freedom of their people. The film explores the commitment of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, poet Min Ko Naing, comedian Zarganar and women’s leader Nilar Thein. Their stories are told through scenes of political activities filmed at great risk by the Democratic Voice of Burma, with rare archival footage and new material filmed with Burmese exiles. Bo Kyi, a former prisoner, carries the voices and the plight of 2,000 other political prisoners to the international stage.

Directed by Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham
UK, Japan / 2011 / English subtitles / 86 min / Documentary
Directors expected to attend
Buy tickets here.

Japanese man vocalizes while holding instrument tied with red cordA mysterious and innovative meditation on 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, intimate and deeply seen. Kanzeon, another way of saying Kannon, the embodiment of compassion (in Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara, in Tibetan: Chenrezi, in Chinese: Kuan Yin), can also be written in Japanese as “to see sounds.” Filmed on location in Kyushu, Japan.

Summer Pasture
Directed by Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Tsering Perlo
USA, China / 2010 / Tibetan with English subtitles / 85 min / Documentary
Buy tickets here.

happy baby sits in blanket lined box surrounded by household itemsSummer Pasture is a complex and intimate portrayal of the world of a nomadic family on the Tibetan plateau at a time of profound historic change. Locho and Yama are nomadic herders who carve their existence from the land as their ancestors have for generations. But now, as traditional nomadic life confronts rapid modernization, Summer Pasture captures a family at a crossroads, ultimately revealing the profound sacrifice they will make to ensure their daughter’s future. Filmed on location in China.

For ticketing and venue information, please visit Apollo Piccadilly Circus.