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The Religious Affiliation of Buddhist filmmaker
Tano Maeda


"Speaking for the Buddha?: Buddhism and the Media" (Conference Proceedings), 8-9 February 2005, Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley, California; Sponsored by the Center for Buddhist Studies and Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley, with the support of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai America (http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/2005.02.08-09.html; viewed 7 September 2005):
Tano Maeda, Executive Director of the International Buddhist Film Festival.

The next speaker was Gaetano Maeda, executive director of the International Buddhist Film Festival (IBFF) and a founding director of the Buddhist quarterly Tricycle whose films include Peace is Every Step (1998). Maeda spoke about his work with IBFF, affirming that the organization aims to "pitch a big tent" over the multiplicity of cultures, views and perspectives associated with Buddhism. The purpose of the International Buddhist Film Festival, according to Maeda, is to support films and bring them to broad audiences. He noted that people commonly ask what counts as a "Buddhist film," and discussed a range of films that have been screened at the Festival. While Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers and Tides (2001) may lack a single Buddhist technical term, the film conveys a central theme of Buddhism, namely decay. Jacob's Ladder (1990) was marketed as a thriller on first release, but screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who is a meditation practitioner, later revealed that it was adapted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Maeda also emphasized IBFF's efforts to show a diversity of films from around the world: this year's festival featured films from 15 nations. He concluded with a quote by Bhutanese filmmaker and Tibetan reincarnated teacher Khyentse Norbu, on his decision to make films despite resistance from certain quarters: "Dharma is the tea, and culture is the cup... If necessary, I am ready to change the cup."

...A number of questions were raised at the end of the panel... The next question for the panel was: why does a film have to be accurate to be good? Maeda viewed the dualism of good and bad as a subjective issue dependent on form, content and audience response, which may not be congruent at the same moment. He considers Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...and Spring (2003) to be a well-made film, but inappropriate for IBFF because of its "crypto-Christian" character.

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Webpage created 7 September 2005. Last modified 14 September 2005.
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