Friday, September 22, 2006

Heart of Tibet: An Intimate Portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama

David Cherniack, 1991
60 minutes, color documentary
5 up

This portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama was created during a visit to California and includes interviews with American scholars of Buddhism such as Robert Thurman, plus footage of the Dalai Lama being interviewed by journalists, meditating, and making the rounds as he is greeted by supporters in the U.S. I especially liked these scenes, which focus on close-ups of people as they look into his eyes—one thing everyone seems to agree on about the Dalai Lama is that meeting him is an experience of pure joy. Parents of very young children be advised: provides background on the Chinese invasion of Tibet that includes archival footage of soldiers brutalizing Tibetans. An introduction to Buddhism that kids 5 and older should understand, as the Dalai Lama, the "simple monk," speaks plainly on fundamental subjects: love, compassion and service to others.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Primal Mind

Don Lenzer, 1996
With Jamake Highwater
58 minutes, color documentary
Ages 5 and up

Author Jamake Highwater talks about his own experiences growing up as an Indian in a foreign, dominant culture and the peceptual divide between primal and European cultures. He moves fluidly among topics—art, architecture, dance, painting. This is aimed at viewers of at least young adult age, but there is so much of interest to look at, and Highwater makes his points so clearly, that any child could benefit from one or more viewings.

Making Grace

Catherine Gund
87 minutes, color documentary
All ages

A warm document of the journey of a couple, Anne Krsl and Leslie Sullivan, toward motherhood, following them through several visits to a doctor for insemination and culminating in the birth of their daughter, Grace. I watched this with my seven-year-old daughter and during and after, we talked about the various ways families are created. She loved it. When I asked her what she loved about it, she said "Everything." When I asked her what images stayed with her from the movie, she said "Grace." I think she got the idea. It's about love, perseverance and naturally, grace. Incredibly moving to see how a child's birth can heal a family and create community.