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Festival 2014: Bardo of Transformation

The main theme this year is Bardo of Transformation. Bardo is a concept from Tibetan Buddhism meaning transition or ‘in-between’.

 The Bardo of Transformation - buddhism as a living organism

Yes, transformation is happening big time. Right now in particular at the dark edges of our society, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the M17 plane attack in Ukraine, the executions of fellow human beings. These are realities to which we bear witness, in media images that we forcibly became accustomed to. This is the context! But here we do not gather to share these images in collective consumption. We come together to expand our vision, to inspire, and hopefully find some tools to engage with the world around us with renewed energy and compassion; by encountering people with different opinions, by listening, by the true practice of inter-being.

Words like this easily sound like clichés, but let’s dare to be fearless. Because it is these healing experiences that we want to share with you in the films that we selected for you. Like our openings film Vara: a Blessing. It gives an insight into the encounters a young woman has with hierarchical dominance and the inequalitiy of the caste system in India. The film is made by Khyentse Norbu, a highly revered Rinpoche born in Bhutan, whose films BFFE always presented.

For more female energy Daughters of Dolma incites discussion about how gender influences contemporary spiritual practice, and in Femme, a film produced by actress Sharon Stone, women discuss how religion and science can be solutions to the problems we have in the world.

The Wind is a major player at this years festival. We show masterfilmer Joris Ivens’ last film, a testimonial to his own life, The Story of the Wind. And an hommage to Ivens in 3 parts, filmed in China by American filmmaker Ellen Zweig. The wind also blows in Kurai Kurai, the first fiction-film by a highly visual documentary maker, Marjoleine Boonstra, in which she sets out to discover the mystery of the Kurai.

Tibet has a strong delegation this year with Bringing Tibet Home, an extraordinary art project in which tons of Tibetan soil were smuggled out of Tibet in trucks to India, where it was laid out on a platform so that Tibetans in exile could set foot on their homeland. Then there’s Little Tibet 2 in which a young man confronts his fathers past as a guerilla fighter in Mustang.

There’s more socially engaged Buddhism in Zen & the Art of Peacemaking about life and work of Kazuaki Tanahashi, who started ‘A World without Armies’ and in A Sense of Urgency about Joan Halifax who has spent over 40 years working with the dying and in prisons. And director John Halpern presents a live event exploring altruism, brain research, art and the meditation movement in pursuit of a sustainable future.

We are also pleased to screen new films from BOS, the important spiritual media institution in Holland, still the only Buddhist Public Broadcaster in the western world today, now facing severe funding cuts.

May the activities of BFFE 2014 contribute to the well-being of all sentient beings and generate the best of our potential and a more compassionate society.


We wish you a memorable festival.

Babeth M. VanLoo, Director BFFE

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