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REL 190: Film and Other Media

Films about Women and Buddhism

Some films of possible interest

  • Bruno, Ellen. Satya, A Prayer for the Enemy. 200-?. Synopsis: Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950, more than one million people have been tortured, executed or starved to death for their role in demonstrations against the Chinese occupation. This film focuses on personal testimonies of Tibetan Buddhist nuns who have taken the lead in this resistance by fearlessly staging courageous demonstrations for religious freedom and independence. Link to DiscoverE.
  • De Filippis, Jeanne Mascolo, Antoine de Maximy, and Pascal Benoussan. 1998. Alexandra David-Neel: One Woman's Journey from Sikkim to Forbidden Tibet. Synopsis: Documents the life of the first woman to be granted the title of Lama in Tibet, including her two years as a hermit in the Himalayas and her secret pilgrimage to the holy city of Llasa, forbidden to foreigners. In an emotional ceremony, Neel's companion in her old age returns a golden Buddha, a gift from the Dalai Lama, to a monastery in Tibet.
  • Holt, Victoria. 2010?. A Walk of Wisdom. Synopsis: A former model turned Buddhist nun, Mae Chee Sansanee Sthirasuta has devoted her life to alleviating suffering. She works out of the dharma practicing Sathira-Dhammasathan Center in Bangkok, and has become a revered female spiritual leader in Thailand. She ministers to all, but focuses on work with single mothers and prisoners. In this film, she shares her life, her work and wisdom through in-depth interviews. 
  • Krauter, Uwe. 1993. Choice for a Chinese Woman: Enlightenment in a Buddhist Convent. Synopsis: Portrait of a Chinese teenager from a poor rural family who ran away to a Buddhist convent. The film examines life in the convent and the religious conventions and convictions of a people trained since the Maoist revolution to disdain religion. Follows the transformation of a young girl in the search for peace and enlightenment.
  • Lobo, Ricardo. 2003. Sisters of Ladakh. Synopsis: Examines the daily life of Buddhist nuns in a convent in Ladakh, on the Himalayan border between Tibet and India. Includes interviews with many of the nuns on Buddhism, and the role of women in society.
  • Miklos, Adam. 2013. Daughters of Dolma. Synopsis: DAUGHTERS OF DOLMA takes viewers on a journey revealing a distinctively female experience of Tibetan Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley. This feature-length documentary brings to the screen not just Buddhist spirituality and qualities like compassion and kindness, but Tibetan Buddhist nuns as full individuals beyond their monastic vows and religious practices. DAUGHTERS OF DOLMA reveals how gender and modernity are molding contemporary spiritual practices in Nepal.
  • Pearlman, Bari. 2007. Daughters of wisdom Ye śes rgyud ʼdzin ma // Ye śes rgyud ʼdzin maAbstract: Offers an experiential and transporting view of contemporary Tibet seen through the eyes of some of its most extraordinary women, the nuns of Kala Rongo Monastery of Nangchen, Kham.
  • Pundarika Association. 2009. Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet. Synopsis: Tells the story of 3000 nuns living in the remote nomadic region of Nangchen in Eastern Tibet who practice an ancient yogic tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Despite near extinction during the destruction of the Cultural Revolution, these remarkable spiritual practitioners have emerged to rebuild their monasteries by hand - stone by stone. Now, their tradition of wisdom and compassion is once again vital and growing. In 2005, Tsoknyi Rinpoche III led a small group of western students to meet the Nangchen nuns. 
  • Ray, Bappa. 2006. The Journey of Bhikkunis. Synopsis: The film documents after escaping Tibet how Nuns went about recreating Nunnery with multiple efforts. With new education apart from spiritual training, they led the life as health workers, teachers, and artists.
  • Skiba, Malgorzata. 2008. Autumn in the Himalayas. Synopsis: Brings to light the story of a group of elderly Buddhist nuns from Ladakh, who represent the last generation of unordained and uneducated women in robes. They have led quiet lives in isolated high mountains working as domestic helps and road construction laborers. Neglected by religious and social systems for centuries, the new Nyerma nunnery is their last call for dignity, enhancement and purification of their religious status. 
  • Sung, Gong Jae. 2007. Zen Buddhism: In Search of Self. Synopsis: Following a tradition dating back over 1,000 years, two dozen Buddhist nuns gather for Dong Ahn Geo (Winter Zen Retreat), a ninety day period of meditation, fasting and contemplation deep in the mountains of South Korea. 

Other Media

  • Gyatso, Janet.  "Women in Tibetan Buddhism: Problems and Promise in both Theory and practice", talk by Harvard professor at Lehigh University. iTunes podcast. October 3, 2008.
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