Awaken to the world - THIS Buddhist Film Festival returns with 19 thought-provoking films this September

The Buddhist Channel, 3 August 2023

Singapore, -- Thus Have I Seen Buddhist Film Festival (THISBFF) returns on 23 September 2023 to awaken the community with 19 thought-provoking and eye-opening films.

THISBFF is the longest-running and only biennial Buddhist film event in Singapore, providing a platform for film lovers to access and contemplate the Buddha’s timeless teachings of wisdom and compassion through these specially curated films. It is also widely acknowledged to be one of the four long-running Buddhist Film Festivals worldwide.

Having undergone two editions of hybrid screening during the pandemic years, THISBFF 2023 is making a full comeback as a fully in-cinema festival at Shaw Theatres Lido.

“2023 has proven to be a challenging year for everyone as we adjust back to pre-COVID normality while seeking to maintain our achievements attained during the pandemic. Truly the teachings of the Buddha come to my mind as we seek the middle path between balancing personal lives, work lives and other interests. The team is delighted to have the opportunity again to share 19 excellent films and documentaries curated from all over the world to our audience and supporters.” Said Teo Puay Kim, Chairman of THISBFF 2023 Organising Committee.

An unexpected underlying theme - Awaken to the world

This year’s film selection took longer than expected as the organisers had to screen through more than 1000 films submitted through the open call exercise. After months of review and consideration, 19 Buddhist themed films and documentaries that best represents the teachings of the Buddha were selected, making this edition the largest edition since its inauguration in 2009.

Surviving a pandemic collectively as a community is a life-changing event. Many of us develop a higher level of self awareness and a deeper connection to both our inner world and the world we live in. As the organisers reviewed the selected films, an unexpected underlying theme grew on them and shaped the way the stories of this year’s programme should be told.

Awaken to the world within us - THISBFF 2023 will open with a special screening of Bernardo Bertolucci's timeless masterpiece, Little Buddha which originally premiered three decades ago. This film holds its place as one of the most iconic and revered Buddhist films ever created. Starring a young Keanu Reeves as Prince Siddhartha, it takes the audience on an enchanting journey through his quest for enlightenment. Little Buddha beautifully retells the legendary life story of the Buddha, making it a true classic that continues to captivate audiences even after all these years.

Awaken to the world we live in - Waking Up 2050 by Singaporean Director Ray Choo discusses what Buddhism will be like in the future, its place and its relevance through diverse perspectives and stories. Karmalink by Jake Wachtel, Cambodia’s first sci-fi movie, brings the audience on a trippy sci-fi visual journey to uncover dreams of the past and the future and the marks of existence.

Awaken to the world when different cultures meet - Mission: Joy by directors Louie Psihoyos and Peggy Callahan is a joyful look at the respect and affection between two of the leading religious leaders of recent times - Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his Holiness The Dalai Lama. Buddha in Africa by director Nicole Schafer is a study about cultural differences when Buddhist teachings and Chinese culture are transplanted into Africa. Samsara by director Lois Patiño juxtaposed two different conceptions of afterlife in a contemplative and meditative feature.

Awaken to the world of the death and dying - 《回眸》Review by Taiwanese director Maso Chen documents how three terminal patients in Taiwan face their impending death and let go of their attachments with the help of buddhist palliative support; while a scientific documentary commissioned by his Holiness The Dalai Lama, Tukdam: Between Worlds by Donagh Coleman, opens up our mind and eyes to a phenomenon commonly observed in the Tibetan tradition, Tukdam, in which advanced meditators die in a consciously controlled manner in meditation.

Awaken to a different choice in life as THISBFF 2023 will close with an upbeat production, I Leave Home by director Kim Sunghwan. Recently released in South Korea this year, this inspirational Buddhist film takes the audience on an extraordinary spiritual journey - a unique road trip where the protagonist embarks on a quest to renounce the material world and embrace the life of a monk. With its recent release and captivating premise, I Leave Home promises to be an unforgettable and thought-provoking cinematic experience for the festival's attendees.

Dialogues with not one, not two, not three but four Asian Filmmakers Nothing beats meeting in person! And one of the reasons why audiences prefer to catch a film in a cinema during THISBFF is to be able to meet and interact with filmmakers! THISBFF 2023 welcomes four Asian directors who will be attending the festival in-person to introduce their films and meet the audience. The directors are respectively from Taiwan, South Korea and there is even one from Singapore!

“We are deeply excited to confirm four live dialogue sessions between the directors and the audience this year. The sincerity of the directors in making efforts to come to Singapore during the Festival is deeply encouraging and moving. We are very grateful for the opportunity to gain deeper appreciation for the films and for the chance to ask questions.” said Cell Lim, Film Programmer and Vice Chairman of THISBFF 2023 Organising Committee.

Tickets can be purchased via SISTIC from 4 August 10.00am onwards.

Visit for more information.

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