June 27, 2012

Tricycle Talk: Victress Hitchcock, Director of When the Iron Bird Flies

This year's Tricycle | Buddhafest Online Film Festival features two films by wonderwoman director Victress Hitchcock: Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet and When the Iron Bird Flies. The first opened the film festival by highlighting the practice of the Nangchen nuns within the largely male-dominated history of Buddhism in Tibet. With When the Iron Bird Flies, Hitchcock expands her lens, following the journey of Tibetan Buddhism from its past seclusion in the Land of Snows to its current (almost) mainstream status in the West, focusing especially on the effects of the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet in 1959. When the Iron Bird Flies explores an engaging question as Tibetan Buddhism's influence grows worldwide: In these incredibly chaotic, modern times, can these age old teachings help us find genuine happiness—and create a saner, more compassionate 21st century world?

Below, watch a trailer of the movie and listen to a Tricycle Talk with director Victress Hitchcock. As British historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, "The coming of Buddhism to the West may well prove to be the most important event of the twentieth century." If this is true, Hitchcock has her finger on the pulse of a changing society.

Pick up a film festival pass and watch When the Iron Bird Flies.

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


You may need: Adobe Flash Player.

Director Victress Hitchcock on When the Iron Bird Flies


myers_lloyd's picture

I was a very involved feminist in my youth, and maybe I'm just lucky-- but never have I felt sensitive about "the woman issue" on so many retreats with my Zen teacher, a man.
Initially reserved and curious about how things would unfold on my first extended sesshin. I did notice that the kitchen was loaded with us during work practice. My Bear Of Very Little Brain speculated about this as a sexist allocation of labour (amidst guys dusting, sewing, vacuuming...) but as I learned more, I understood that monastically, senior practitioners were kitchen folk --and the kitchen supervisor was in effect the tenzin, quite the position of responsibility.
Glad I didn't go off whining to my teacher. Glad women are training as geshes in Tibetan practice.
Glad I have a sound body to practice with. Glad I saw When The Iron Bird Flies, tears and all, tonight.

ranni's picture

I paid for a film pass but cannot get access to the films. What is the link?

Sam Mowe's picture

Hi ranni,

You can find all the BuddhaFest films and dharma talks here: www.tricycle.com/buddhafest

Sam Mowe
Associate Editor

ruthschaefer's picture

I am a long time subscriber to Tricycle, and have paid $20 for a film festival pass. I wanted to watch this film and spent a 20 minutes or so looking for a way to watch it but can't find any way to do that on Tricycle's website. Am I the only person who is having this problem.

Thanks for any clues.

Bill Sims's picture

Maybe you were just on the wrong page. Make sure you are logged in to the site, and then try this URL : http://www.tricycle.com/buddhafest/when-iron-bird-flies
I hope this works for you.

Ooops, I should have refreshed the page before I posted this, I see now it had already been answered.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi, Ruth. If you have paid for a film festival pass, simply click on the bold link in this blog post ("Pick up a film festival pass and watch When the Iron Bird Flies"). It will bring you to the page where you can watch the film. If that link gives you trouble, here it is once more: http://www.tricycle.com/buddhafest/when-iron-bird-flies. If you are still having trouble, please contact our support services at support@tricycle.com. Hope you're successfully watching soon!

Emma Varvaloucas

gillish's picture

I just watched "When the Iron Bird Flies". Thank you for this beautiful film. It has inspired me to deepen my practice by seeking out retreats and a teacher like I have been wanting to for some time but did not have the courage to do.

I am glad that the film addressed the weaknesses Buddhism is facing in regards to equality for women. I feel like this issue is simply not discussed enough. In addition, as someone who strives to live a deeply engaged Buddhist life, I appreciated the film showing Buddhists practicing at one of the Occupy movement sites. I wish that more western Buddhists would participate in social justice and grassroots actions as part of their practice, and embrace a bodhicitta life.

I do not have any specific questions about the film, but I did want to post to extend my deep gratitude for you and all the beings who were involved in the making of this film. Films like these will be treasured for many years to come.