Sharchen Dzong Film Society
The Sharchen Dzong Film Society is dedicated to bringing great film to our community for free. We present films that examine themes such as devotion, intention, transformation, happiness, healing, suffering, connection, impermanence and the illusory nature of experience.
Consider movie night an opportunity to try one of the many nearby restaurants before joining us for the film. If there is a film you’d like us to show, send an email to film [at] sharchendzong [dot] org.
Spring 2015 Film Schedule
Man with a Movie Camera (1929 / 68m) is an experimental, silent documentary film (musical accompaniment), with no story and no actors. It presents urban life in the Soviet cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. The film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques its director Dziga Vertov invents, deploys or develops. In 2014 Sight and Sound named the film the best documentary film of all time.
Date: Friday, April 10th
Pleasantville (1998 / 124m) is an American comedy-drama film. Impressed by high school student David’s (Tobey Maguire) devotion to a 1950s family TV show, a mysterious television repairman (Don Knotts) provides him with a means to escape into the black-and-white program with his sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). While David initially takes to the simplistic, corny world of the show, Jennifer sets about jolting the characters with doses of reality. Slowly, Pleasantville begins changing from black and white to color, including flowers and the faces of people who have experienced
bursts of emotion and personal transformation
Date: Friday, May 8th
Yangsi (2012 / 82m), a documentary directed by Mark Elliot (The Lion’s Roar) tells the story of Jigme Lhundrup, the reincarnation of a greatly revered Tibetan Buddhist spiritual master. He must train to uphold this legacy from the age of four. Even with the loving support of his teachers and family the way forward is not always clear. Questions begin to arise about the place of his tradition in the modern world, and his own abilities. It follows a journey spanning fourteen years, culminating in the Yangsi’s introduction to the world as a young man, when he must fully assume the mantle of his predecessor.
Date: Friday, June 12th
Winter 2015 Film Schedule
Sita Sings the Blues
Sita Sings the Blues (2008 / 98m) is an animated film written, directed, produced and animated almost entirely by American artist Nina Paley. It intersperses events from the Ramayana, a trio of Indian shadow puppets, musical interludes voiced with tracks by Annette Hanshaw and scenes from the artist’s own life.
“I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Date: Friday, January 30th
Groundhog Day (1993 / 101m) is an American comedy film. In it Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray), is an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities. Directed by Harold Ramis, also featuring Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot.
Date: Friday, February 13th
Tulku (2009 / 75m) is a documentary film, written and directed by Gesar Mukpo. Starting in the mid-1970s, Tibetan teachers began recognizing Western children as tulkus, the present-day reincarnation of a Buddhist master. Suddenly, a system that had ensured stable spiritual power and authority in Tibetan society for 800 years was transplanted into a completely different culture. Gesar Mukpo was three when he was recognized as a tulku. In this intensely personal documentary, Gesar sets out to meet other tulkus to find out how they reconcile modern and ancient, East and West.
Date: Friday, March 20th
Fall 2014 Film Schedule
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Exit Through the Gift Shop (87m / 2010) marks the feature-film debut of notorious street artist Banksy. The documentary’s focus is French-born L.A. thrift-shop owner Thierry Guetta, whose apparent compulsion to videotape every moment of his life led him to document the phenomenon of contemporary street art. Guetta’s cousin, a street artist known as Space Invader, allowed the avid cameraman to tape him as he illegally spread his artwork, and Space Invader also introduced him to other street artists, whose work Guetta captured on tape.
Thanks to Guettta’s growing reputation among street artists, the two eventually meet and form a sort of partnership. Guetta even videotapes Banksy’s infamous “Gitmo” prank at Disneyland, wherein a handcuffed, hooded figure in an orange jumpsuit is placed beside one of the rides. They get along quite well until Banksy suggests that Guetta stop shooting, take the countless hours of footage he’s accumulated, and start assembling them into a documentary.
Date: Friday, October 17th
When The Iron Bird Flies
In 1959, the Chinese invasion of Tibet threw open the doors to the mysterious realm of Tibetan Buddhism and suddenly this rich, ancient tradition was propelled into the modern world. Half a century later, Padmasambhava’s prophecy has come true and the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism are found in every corner of the earth.
When The Iron Bird Flies (96m / 2012) takes us on an up-close and personal journey following the astounding path of one of the world’s great spiritual traditions from the caves of Tibet to the mainstream of Western culture. Along the way, the film tackles the provocative exchanges between Buddhist practitioners and scholars and Western scientists, psychologists, and educators now at the heart of the emergence of a genuine Western tradition of Buddhism.
And the film investigates the question: “In these increasingly challenging times, can these profound teachings help us find genuine happiness and create a saner, more compassionate 21st century world?”
Through candid interviews with contemporary teachers and practitioners, rare archival footage, and striking images of modern life that illuminate and make accessible the Buddha’s core teachings, the film creates a vivid and entertaining portrait of the world of Tibetan Buddhism, as it is manifesting in America and the West.
Date: Friday, November 14th
Good Night And Good Luck
Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, was generating no small amount of controversy in the public and private sectors with his allegations that Communists had risen to positions of power and influence in America, and an Air Force pilot, Milo Radulovich, had been drummed out of the service due to McCarthy’s charges that he was a Communist agent. However, Radulovich had been dismissed without a formal hearing of the charges, and he protested that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Murrow decided to do a story on Radulovich’s case questioning the legitimacy of his dismissal, which was seen by McCarthy and his supporters as an open challenge to his campaign.
McCarthy responded by accusing Murrow of being a Communist, leading to a legendary installment of See It Now in which both Murrow and McCarthy presented their sides of the story, which was seen by many as the first step toward McCarthy’s downfall. Meanwhile, Murrow had to deal with CBS head William Paley (Frank Langella), who was supportive of Murrow but extremely wary of his controversial positions, while Murrow was also trying to support fellow newsman Don Hollenbeck (Ray Wise), battling charges against his own political views, and working alongside Fred Friendly (George Clooney), the daring head of CBS News.
Date: Friday, December 19th
Films We Show
There are many films that explore contemplative themes from a variety wisdom traditions. Films such as these offer the general audience an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the many diverse forms of buddhism.
The film society regularly presents a selection of exceptional and hard-to-find dharma films.
Mainstream film can be described as commercial films that have a wide release and play in first run theaters. The boundary is vague. Mainstream suggests middle-of-the-road and implies commercial viability, sometimes implying that the commercial viability is tantamount to a loss of artistic creativity.
The film society presents a wide selection of mainstream films that provide though-provoking and inspiring stories which some may consider dharmic.
Experimental film is often characterized by the absence of linear narrative, the use of various abstracting techniques (out of focus, painting or scratching on film, rapid editing), the use of asynchronous sound or even the absence of any sound track.
The goal is often to place the viewer in a more active and thoughtful relationship to the film. The terms avant-garde and undergroundhave been used to describe films that today are commonly called experimental cinema.
The film society presents a selection of experimental films that provide our audience the opportunity to experience beginner’s mind.
Our community includes a diverse and extraordinary group of filmmakers making films that examine issues both personal and universal in a wide range of styles and genres, including: animation, experimental, drama, documentaries and others.
Contact: For more information, please send an email to:
film [at] sharchendzong [dot] org.