Meet the Buddhist priest helping people with suicidal thoughts find reasons to live

Meet the Buddhist priest helping people with suicidal thoughts find reasons to live

Source:  Buddhistdoor Global

It’s an unfortunate but well known fact that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Suicide is so common that during unexpected stops between train stations, passengers often assume the delay is caused by a person jumping onto the tracks.

Moreover, in Japanese culture, suicide can be seen as a moral and even necessary act when it comes to preserving one’s honor and dignity.

In the 2017 documentary “The Departure,” filmmaker Lana Wilson follows Ittetsu Nemoto, a Buddhist priest who is deeply perplexed by this phenomenon and who, in offering his services to those who experience suicidal feelings, goes against the grain of Japan’s social norms.

“The Departure” is available on iTunes.

Read the story at Buddhistdoor Global.

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Abramorama acquires “American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel”

Abramorama acquires “American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel”

Source:  Deadline

Abramorama has acquired the worldwide rights to “American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel.”

Directed by Catherine Butler, the film profiles a group of defiant ministers, congregations, and community leaders in Oklahoma who are challenging deeply rooted fundamentalist Christian doctrine in favor of a gospel of inclusion.

Labeled as “heretics” for their beliefs and actions, they’re challenging fundamentalist Christian interpretations of the Bible that continue to justify nationalism and attack landmark civil rights protections for women, minorities, immigrants, and LGBTQ communities.

“American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel” will begin its theatrical release on July 12 in New York City, followed by engagements in select cities across the country.

Read the story at Deadline.

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New doc­u­mentary enters the rings of boxing and religion

New doc­u­mentary enters the rings of boxing and religion

Source:  NY1

Boxing is a brutal sport so why do many fighters turn to religion as they engage in such violence?  A new documentary aims to find out.

Craig Tubiolo spent three years working on “Ring of Faith.”  He’s the Director of Programming and Production at DeSales Media Group, the communications arm of the Brooklyn, New York Catholic Diocese.

Tubiolo interviewed more than two dozen people from the boxing world and from different religions.

“We were fortunate we just got about every world champion boxer from a Catholic world champion boxer to a Christian world champion boxer, a Jewish world champion to the Muslim world champion and they all had the same sort of point of view.”  Tubiolo said.  “They all felt like this is a calling from God that God gave them this gift,”

“Ring of Faith” will be available on streaming platforms in July.

Read the story at NY1.

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Timely documentary “Hesburgh” looks back fondly on a great conciliator

Timely documentary “Hesburgh” looks back fondly on a great conciliator

Source:  The Washington Post

In fractious and bellicose times, it’s tough out there for conciliators.  Which makes “Hesburgh,” Patrick Creadon’s lively and inspiring portrait of one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century, more welcome than ever.

Father Theodore M. Hesburgh was most famous as the president of the University of Notre Dame, an institution he led for 35 years.

During Father Ted’s tenure, Notre Dame went from being a football school to being not just academically respected but a bastion of intellectual freedom and ideological pluralism, sometimes at the consternation of Vatican officials.

If only as a principled educator and beloved paterfamilias, Father Ted is worthy of admiration.  But as Creadon makes clear in this swiftly moving chronicle, his biggest role was that of civil rights pioneer and transcendent public figure.

As one of the first members and later chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he helped create the underpinnings of what would become landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Hesburgh” opens tomorrow in select theaters.

Read the story at The Washington Post.

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“We Believe in Dinosaurs” focuses on a Kentucky museum built to recreate Noah’s Ark and debunk evolution

“We Believe in Dinosaurs” focuses on a Kentucky museum built to recreate Noah’s Ark and debunk evolution

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

The intriguing and timely documentary, “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” had its world premiere last week at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

The film focuses on the creation of a massive museum in Kentucky that’s a kind of theme park version of Noah’s Ark.

The creators of the museum had an agenda.  It’s part of a program designed to verify the teachings of the Bible and debunk the theory of evolution.

Although the film is frustratingly incomplete at times, it convincingly and sometimes frighteningly explores the big-business connections to fundamentalist religion.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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“Strange Negotiations” centers on David Bazan’s public loss of faith after rising to the top of the Christian indie rock scene

“Strange Negotiations” centers on David Bazan’s public loss of faith after rising to the top of the Christian indie rock scene

Source:  Variety

In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction.

The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans.  Then he ditched that persona (and lost much of his fanbase), not in an attempt to “sell out,” but rather amid public acknowledgement that he had suffered a serious loss of religious faith.

Brandon Vedder’s “Strange Negotiations” is a music documentary whose interest goes beyond the usual realms of performance footage and personality, since Bazan is so forthcoming about his “breakup with God” that continues to impact his art, career, and life.

Particularly with U.S. evangelicals in greater political ascendance than ever before, Bazan’s personal issues lend a larger philosophical depth to this insightful DIY-style portrait.

Read the story at Variety.

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