Festival Media offers the best Buddhist cinema on DVD. A service of the nonprofit Buddhist Film Foundation, Inc., home of the International Buddhist Film Festival.
If you haven't already heard about our Short Films Showcase, we have twenty-five original films all competing for your votes here, trying to answer the question "What does it mean to be Awake in the World?" Voting goes until June 8, when the entry that receives the highest combination of votes and average rating will win $1,000 in cash and two 4-Day All Festival Passes to BuddhaFest.
It would be great if you could watch them all, but we do understand that twenty-five videos, even though they're all 5 minutes or under, is a lot to go through. So we'll be highlighting a couple videos each day from now until June 8 to help you out. Whether you love what you read or hate it, you can follow the link to watch the entire film and vote. Today's films are Joel Metzger's "The Story of Home" and Stacey Stone's "Awake in the World."
This simply-done animation packs a powerful punch. Being the impatient and short-sighted member of Generation Y that I am, however, the first time I watched it I didn't even make it through the whole thing.
The first time I tried to see it, I was frustrated almost immediately. The narrator spoke slowly; the animation seemed cheesy. What, I thought, was this guy getting at? I stopped "The Story of Home" before I found out.
This was a mistake. The second time around, I discovered the reason why the narrator spoke so slowly. "The Story of Home" is one of the only films in the Short Film Showcase that actually could be spoiled by me talking about it too much, so I'll let you discover the answer by yourself. Trust me when I say it's worth waiting to find out.
"The Story of Home" tells a remarkable story, and Metzger narrates it without dipping into platitudes. The whole thing feels (almost painfully) authentic, and you can tell that the filmmaker is speaking from the heart. "I can feel inside myself the quiet current of aliveness," he says halfway through the film. "Every day I sit with that feeling, and beauty fills, fills, fills me."
And speaking of beauty, Stacey Stone's "Awake in the World" (don't get confused! There are two short films named "Awake In the World"), features the natural beauty of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. In it, filmmaker Stone interviews six people, all of whom inevitably speak with calm and giving smiles, discussing nature, the divine, and spiritual life. They all seemed incredibly relaxed and at ease. Either they've discovered their inner divinity...or they're currently living on Lake Atitlan, which looks like this:
Yeah, no wonder they're all blissed out. I would be too, if I were hanging out in a Central American paradise. The people in the film are all quite likeable and pleasant—two of them are particularly charismatic—but I was disappointed that they all seemed to be expats or tourists. Only one person who was interviewed could have been Guatemalan (and that's just a guess). Where are the locals?
Anyway, it's been wonderful writing this blog post and all, but...I need to go plan my vacation to Lake Atitlan. Look for another post tomorrow, when we present more short films! And don't forget to vote. Support, people, support!
Image: Cover, Lake Atitlan, from Trip Advisor.
1: From Joel Metzger's short film "The Story of Home."
2: Lake Atitlan.
3: Lake Atitlan.