In Her Own Time (1985)

By Lynn Littman, 60 min. Trailer.

Keywords: death, end of life, religion, ritual, Orthodox Judaism, USA

Anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff was fascinated by the way culture, religion, and neighborhood work together to make a community. In 1981 she began a film study of Los Angeles’s Fairfax district, a rich subculture of Orthodox Jews. While making the film Dr. Myerhoff learned she had cancer. This discovery took the film beyond its original intent. As she faced her own death Myerhoff began to explore her relationship to Orthodox Judaism by participating in traditional rituals. IN HER OWN TIME follows a deeply felt quest for personal meaning as it movingly portrays the dialogue between the secular and the spiritual. [Synopsis from the Jewish Film Institute]

Keep Quiet (2016)

By Sam Blair and Joseph Martin. 1 h 36 min. Trailer.

Keywords: memory, identity, ritual, conversion, Judaism, holocaust, Europe

As vice-president of Hungary’s far-right extremist party, Csanad Szegedi espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials, and founded the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by a pro-Nazi group complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during WWII. But his life was soon upended when Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were revealed to be Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor who had hidden her faith, fearing further persecution. Keep Quiet depicts Szegedi’s three-year journey to embrace his newfound religion. But is his transformation genuine? Or does he simply have nowhere else to turn? [Synopsis from Kino Lorber]

The Dhamma Brothers (2008)

By Jenny Phillips. 1 h 16 min. Trailer.

Keywords: meditation, vippasana, the mind, prison, the South, USA

Donaldson Correctional Facility is situated in the Alabama countryside southwest of Birmingham. 1,500 men, considered the state’s most dangerous prisoners, live behind high security towers and a double row of barbed and electrical wire fences.Within this dark environment, a spark was ignited. A growing network of men had been gathering to meditate on a regular basis. Intrigued by this, Jenny Phillips, cultural anthropologist and psychotherapist, first visited Donaldson Correctional Facility in the fall of 1999… Even though many of these men will never be released from prison, they were thirsty for meaningful social and emotional change. What she heard there was difficult to forget. It left her wondering if it were possible to live with a sense of inner peace and freedom within this harsh prison environment. [Synopsis from the official website]

The Order of Myths (2009)

By Margaret Brown. 1 h 18 min. Trailer.

Keywords: ritual, politics, memory, racism, segregation, USA

The first Mardi Gras in America was held in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. Three hundred and five years later, the city’s annual Carnival is split down the middle, with separate but not quite equal celebrations—one for the white folks and one for the black folks. In The Order of Myths, filmmaker Margaret Brown, herself a daughter of Mobile royalty (her mother was a Mardi Gras queen), examines the rituals and traditions that both divide and link the two events and their participants. Brown is granted unprecedented access to the preparations and celebrations as she unmasks the exotic world of secret mystic societies, centuries-old customs and pageantry that surround both Mardi Gras traditions. [Synopsis from PBS]

Tulku (2009)

By Gesar Mukpo. 1 h 16 min. Trailer.

Keywords: reincarnation, Buddhism, change, modernity, diaspora, transnationalism

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 his father. And after his father’s untimely death, he was on his own with this challenge. [Synopsis from the Buddhist Film Foundation]

Unmistaken Child (2008)

By Nati Baratz . 1 h 44 min. Trailer.

Keywords: Buddhism, reincarnation, ritual, body, diaspora, Tibet, India

UNMISTAKEN CHILD follows the four-year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master who passed away in 2001 at age 84. The Dalai Lama charges the deceased monk’s devoted disciple, Tenzin Zopa (who had been in his service since the age of seven), to search for his master’s reincarnation. Tenzin sets off on this unforgettable quest on foot, mule and even helicopter, through breathtaking landscapes and remote traditional Tibetan villages. Along the way, Tenzin listens to stories about young children with special characteristics, and performs rarely seen ritualistic tests designed to determine the likelihood of reincarnation. He eventually presents the child he believes to be his reincarnated master to the Dalai Lama so that he can make the final decision. [Synopsis from Kanopy]