October 1, 2020 (SIGNIS). The 23rd Religion Today film festival took place from 23 to September 30 2020.
The SIGNIS jury, composed of Ana Maria Pedroso Guerrero (Cuba), Jean Luc Maroy (Belgium) and Guido Convents (Belgium) awarded the SIGNIS Prize to Samsara directed by Moon Jeong-Yun (Korea).
Four worldly and materialistic Buddhist monks receive an invitation to meet their supreme master Do-Bub. In his temple, far from the world, to their amazement, they meet their master suffering from dementia, living as always in simplicity. It is a confrontation with their lifestyle and the essence of their vocation. Only one of them, remembering the spiritual education he received from Do-Bub, understood that the meeting with the dying master is a moment to question the way they carry out religious traditions and rites. At Do-Bub’s death, and from the way he died, he realised that he had to return to the sources of inspiration and resume the quest for truth. It is a moment of enlightenment.
Subtly, Samsara presents the balance between religious hypocrisy and the adoption of Zen philosophy, without evading the challenges and difficulties that Buddhist monks may face in modern life.
The jury also awarded a commendation to the film Taj Mahal by Niyaz Mujawar (India).
This rather complex film touches on different aspects of family life, politics and culture. A poor farmer’s problems begin with the tradition that he has to pay for his sister’s dowry. To do so, he has to go into debt, which does not contribute to the family’s well-being. Moreover, he is haunted by traditions that are disastrous for his family and especially for his son. At a certain point, in response to traditions – and under the social pressure of his village, he decides to sacrifice his goat named Tajmal (Taj Mahal) to the family divinity, for the well-being of his only son who is in poor health due to poverty. But his son adores Tajmal and he rebels and wants to protect him at all costs. If the animal is sacrificed, in a way, so is the child.
Thus, the film is a call to reconsider religious traditions and customs through the eyes of a child. It invites a fresh new look at them and to look for the essential, and succeeds in doing so. It is an illustration that shows that religious rites and rules must be seen in a different light and serve above all the well-being of humankind.
Watch the Trailer: https://youtu.be/ijT0lVWvmrQ