This documentary film portrays the extraordinary spiritual journeys of Father François Ponchaud, a French Catholic priest, and Mother Rosemary, an English Anglican nun. It interweaves the bustle, anguish and antiquities of Cambodia on the one hand with the serene poise of an enclosed convent in England on the other.
The priest and the nun lead very different lives. Father François Ponchaud, a member of the Foreign Missions of Paris, has worked in Cambodia – with the Christian minority, with Buddhist monks, with the poor and with refugees – since 1965. He has translated the Bible into the Khmer language and written the definitive history of the Catholic church in Cambodia. In 1977, Ponchaud wrote Cambodia Year Zero – the book that alerted the world to the terrible nature of the Pol Pot regime.
Mother Rosemary leads a life of silence and prayer in an enclosed convent, at Fairacres in Oxford. She took life vows in her twenties and was elected Mother Superior in her forties. Mother Rosemary’s community, the Sisters of the Love of God, is one of the few contemplative orders in the Anglican church. Rosemary has had a long standing interest in Buddhism. In 1991, she spent a two-month sabbatical at Amaravati - a Buddhist Monastery in Hertforshire, founded by western-born Buddhists trained in north-east Thailand.
Both Ponchaud and Rosemary have had to face the inevitable questions posed by head-on encounter between Christianity and Buddhism. Questions like, ‘can Buddhists attain to eternal life?, Has your contact with Buddhism changed your thoughts on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ?, Can the Holy Spirit act through a Buddhist?, Is Buddhist meditation more passive that Christian Prayer?’
Their answers to these questions are direct, lucid and humble. The result is a film which is thought provoking and profound – a film for anyone interested in the spiritual life and the future of religious traditions.
Originally shown to pre-release audiences of religious and inter-faith leaders, documentary makers and film critics in The Vatican, New York, London and Paris, The Cross and the Bodhi Tree has received acclaim for its profundity and its stunning imagery.
Running time: 43 mins
Director: Alan Channer
Camera: David Channer
Also in French
The Cross and the Bodhi Tree Video + study Guide
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|Year of publication||2000|
|Publisher||FLTfilms - For the Love of Tomorrow|