Alive Mind Cinema Classics


Monk With A Camera

Nicholas Vreeland walked away from a worldly life of privilege to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk in 1972. Grandson of legendary Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, and trained by Irving Penn to become a photographer, Nicholas' life changed drastically upon meeting a Tibetan master, one of the teachers of the Dalai Lama. Soon thereafter, he gave up his glamorous life to live in a monastery in India, where he studied Buddhism for fourteen years. In an ironic twist of fate, Nicholas went back to photography to help his fellow monks rebuild their monastery. Recently, the Dalai Lama appointed Nicholas as Abbot of the monastery, making him the first Westerner in Tibetan Buddhist history to attain such a highly regarded position. Monk With a Camera chronicles Nicky's journey from playboy to monk to artist.

Crazy Wisdom

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Buddhism permeates popular culture worldwide - we speak casually of good parking karma, Samsara is a perfume, and Nirvana is a rock band.  A recent survey by Germany's Der Spiegel revealed that Germans like the Dalai Lama more than their native-born Pope Benedict XVI; the biggest Buddhist monastery outside of Asia is in France, and Tibetan Buddhism is doubling its numbers faster than any other religion in Australia and the U.S.A.  How did this happen?

Crazy Wisdom explores this through the story of Chogyam Trungpa, the brilliant "bad boy of Buddhism," who was pivotal in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West.  Trungpa shattered our preconceived notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave.  Born in Tibet, recognized as an exceptional reincarnate lama and trained in the rigorous monastic tradition, Trungpa fled his homeland during the Chinese Communist invasion.  In Britain, realizing a cultural gap prevented his students from any deep understanding of Buddhism, he renounced his vows, eloped with a sixteen year-old, and lived as a westerner.  In the U.S., he openly drank alcohol and had intimate relations with students. Was this crazy wisdom?

With unprecedented access to Trungpa's inner circle and exclusive never-before-seen archival material, Crazy Wisdom looks at the man and the myths about him, and attempts to set the record straight.

Breath Of The Gods

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In BREATH OF THE GODS, director Jan Schmidt-Garre goes in search of the origins of Modern Yoga, which is practiced by tens of millions of people throughout the world, and originated in the early 20th century through the teachings of Indian savant T. Krishnamacharya.

The film features major names of Yoga including Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar. Jan Schmidt-Garre investigates the transformation of Yoga from its introduction to Western culture in the 19th century, when the practice was met with skepticism, to its widespread acceptance gained through Krishnamacharya's teaching. While Yoga today is a billion-dollar industry with many devotees, this film presents the history of an ancient, sacred tradition with roots going back to the god Shiva.

For anybody curious about the roots of Modern Yoga as practiced today, this film provides an in-depth history, placing the practice of yoga in a spiritual context, the practice of which can lead to union with the cosmic Self.

Being In The World

Ten years after graduating with a degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley, filmmaker Tao Ruspoli returned to visit his one-time professor, world-renowned philosopher Herbert Dreyfus. That visit led to meetings with a whole generation of philosophers whom Dreyfus had taught, which subsequently sparked the inspiration for this film. Being in the World raises the question of whether we have forgotten what it means to be truly human in today's technological age, and proceeds to answer this question by taking a journey around the world to meet a whole host of remarkable individuals, including Manuel Molina, the legendary poet and flamenco master; Leah Chase, affectionately known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine; and Hiroshi Sakaguchi, a master carpenter from Japan. By showing how these modern day masters approach life from within their chosen fields, Ruspoli's film celebrates the ability of human beings to find meaning in the world through the mastery of physical, intellectual, and creative skills.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

For six months of the year, renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adrià closes his restaurant El Bulli and works with his culinary team to prepare the menu for the next season. An elegant, detailed study of food as avant-garde art, EL BULLI: COOKING IN PROGRESS is a tasty peek at some of the world's most innovative and exciting cooking; as Adrià himself puts it, “the more bewilderment, the better!"

Critical Acclaim

"CRITICS' PICK! Fans of shows like Top Chef are well advised to check out this fascinating and artful look at the meticulous research-and-development process for the experimental dishes at El Bulli, where every unique dish came with plentiful bragging rights." - New York Magazine

"It's cooking like you've never seen." - Charlotte Druckman, The Wall Street Journal

“Astonishing…at once visually lush and scripturally poetic” - The Globe and Mail

“Lovely, challenging, moving . . .” - The Montreal Gazette 

GRIEFWALKER is an extraordinary portrait of Harvard-trained theologian Stephen Jenkinson, who teaches that death empowers us to live and that we must know grief well in order to appreciate our own lives. Many may find Jenkinson's belief that our deaths are not something to be denied or avoided but 'befriended' as challenging; he points out that not every culture fears death as we do. The film carries viewers into the lives of those confronting death, as well as those learning how to help people die well.

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