Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Best Global Insight Film - Jackson Hole

It's a great honor to win a Cowboy Award for Best Global Insight Film. Thank you Jackson Hole and the Humpty Dumpty Institute - a non profit organisation based in New York that is addressing complex international issues around the world.

It's a great tribute to all who have worked and contributed to Buddha's Lost Children, that the film is seen to be positively contributing to a better understanding between cultures in this increasingly divided world. Thank you.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Hi there Jackson Hole!

It's wonderful to have the opportunity to screen Buddha's Lost Children at Jackson Hole this year - the only disappointment is that I can't attend! Aside from what I've heard is stunning scenery, I'm going to miss those Q&As and the lively discussions that often follow. The great thing about being able to screen this film in so many places around the world is seeing how it touches people in different ways. These are all good reasons to give this blog a go and encourage you not only to go out and see the film, but respond and react as well.

A little background on the production: the film took 3 years to produce, a good part of that time spent on getting to know Phra Khru Bah Neua Chai Kositto and his unique community. This was essential in order to build the necessary trust to achieve an intimate one-on-one relationship with each of the characters. Filming was spread out over a period of a year in 4 shooting sessions so as to be able to cover some development in the two boys who are the main characters in the film.

As far as the editing process went, the biggest challenge was trying to find the right balance in the film between Khru Bah and the boys. While Khru Bah is a fascinating character with fascinating past, it was important to me that the film not focus on his life story but on his work with the boys - I was looking to capture the way he works, the techniques he uses and concentrate on the transformation of the boys themselves. There lay for me a story with universal relevance. You don't need to be interested in Buddhism or the cultures of South East Asia to get something out of how he's able to give these young boys a basic sense of direction, a set of life skills, and self-confidence born out of being part of a caring, giving community. Using his own special brand of 'tough love', Khru Bah is teaching them in fact, not to think of themselves as victims but take control and be responsible for their own lives. It’s beautiful to watch even the youngest rise to the challenge. In Khru Bah's opinion, the only way to change the world is to change the way we bring up our children.

The film was released in September 2006 in the Netherlands, where it has enjoyed a six month theatrical run and much public response. You always hope a film you make will have an impact outside the theater or TV screening and often that is impossible to measure. So it has been particularly rewarding to see how this film has moved so many to do so much. From the outset the intention was to raise funds to support the work at the monastery – and the response so far has been terrific. At the end of June I’ll return with the film’s executive producer, Pim van Collem, to begin preparations for the building of a new temple school. The next project is to look at building a village school outside the monastery to cater for girls as well as boys.
In addition, the film is being used as a catalyst for discussions on all kinds of problems facing young people here in Holland - the same problems facing young people in many other places in the industrialised world.

As far as I'm concerned, this is not a religious film or even a film about religion, it is however intended as an examination of the workings of compassion and the effects that can have on a group of young boys growing up in a marginalized society. For me, Khru Bah's work and example raise important questions on the role of traditional wisdom in a modern materialistic world, on the approach and effectiveness of western aid programs and the value of 'tough love' in bringing up kids... but these are just the ramblings of a filmmaker - let me know what you think!

For more information on the film go to: