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Exploring The Meditative Life

Wednesday, July 4-------While Independence Day for most people is usually a day at the beach or a backyard barbeque extravaganza, the Jacob Burns Film Center has taken a different tack to celebrate the July 4th holidays by presenting a three film series called THE MEDITATIVE LIFE, which explores the inner realities of existence (which can be just as explosive as any fireworks display).

The series begins today with a special one week run of the German film INTO GREAT SILENCE by Philip Groning (released by Zeitgeist Films). In this nearly three-hour documentary, the viewer enters the almost entirely silent world of the Grande Chartresue, one of the world's most ascetic monasteries. With no score, no voiceover and no archival footage, what remains is an appreciation of time, space and light as experienced by this spiritual community in the beautiful landscape of the French Alps. The film has become an unlikely international hit, having won the Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The series also features two special screening events. On Thursday, July 5th, the Center will present WORDS OF MY PERFECT TEACHER by Canadian director Lesley Ann Patten. The film is a loving portrait of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, an eminent Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose calling is "to help sentient beings" . He is also a fan of soccer, a filmmaker, and a man with an international teaching schedule and pockets full of cell phones. Featuring appearances by Bernardo Bertolucci and Steven Seagal and a world-beat soundtrack, this is an illuminating look at a charismatic teacher who breaks the mold.

Finally, next Wednesday, July 11th, the Center presents a rare screening of WHEEL OF TIME, veteran director Werner Herzog's fascinating look at at a one-of-a-kind ceremony in Tibetan Buddhism. With his unique attention to detail, Herzog captures the sights, sounds and smells of a 2002 ceremony that drew hundreds of thousands to an initiation for monks at Bodh Gaya, India (the site where Prince Gautama Siddhartha attained enlightenment), offering a mesmerizing and otherwordly portrait of deep faith. Hats off to the Burns Film Center for going against the grain and looking beyond the transitory pleasures of barbeque and baseball for a celebration of true independence.

For more information on upcoming Center programs, visit their website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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