Filmmaker Jenn Lindsay and Venerable Sangharakkhita are collaborators in the sharing of a profound story and healing method. Jenn adapted Sangharakkhita's story for documentary film and accompanied him to his homeland in Rwanda, capturing interviews with his tai chi master, karate sensei and Rwandan mentors, Buddhist preceptor, surviving family members, Rwandan collaborators in peacemaking and reconciliation after the genocide, and his students of both martial arts and mindfulness. She also filmed him teaching a workshop on Shadow Work and Mindfulness at the University of Kisubi in Entebbe, Uganda.
Read more about the Minding Shadows Team below.
The Venerable Sangharakkhita
The Venerable Sangharakkhita Olivier Biraro was born in Rwanda in 1981. At age 17, he started practicing Buddhism and later became the first and the only Buddhist Monk in the Theravada Tradition from Rwanda. He is an inspirational speaker on subjects of inner peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and trauma healing.
His path as a healer and a spiritual teacher was shaped by the tragic 1994 Genocide that befell his country, in which eight hundred thousand people were killed in less than three months.
So far, he has authored seven books on the aforementioned subjects. He addresses private and public schools, universities and religious communities. He teaches Yoga, Tai Chi and Mindfulness Meditation as ways to mend broken communities.
Aside from publishing spiritual materials, he translates classic books that aim at awakening the human consciousness. He has translated “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran and “Your Word is your Wand” by Florence Scovel Shinn into his mother tongue.
His interests include eastern martial arts. He holds a black belt in Karate and Tae Kwon Do, and has attended several international competitions as a member of his country’s national teams.
His Credo is: If you were to die today, would your last breath express peace or panic? Would you wish to live a bit longer or would you be ready to go to rest?
Would love bless your final breaths or would fear waste your ultimate moments? What if you were to realise the brevity of life today? Would you think the same thoughts, speak the same words, do the same deeds or would you be different today?
Understand: life is short and frail, and death is a sure deal. It may be today. Only the hour is uncertain. Do not bet on tomorrow, which never comes, anyway. Do not take life for granted. It is too short to be little.
Filmmaker Jenn Lindsay first came to know Venerable Sangharakkhita in Fall 2016 through the International Fellowship program of the Vienna-based intercultural and interreligious dialogue organization KAICIID. When she read his story in his book Drops of Dhamma, she recognized a profound story that needed to be told, and a compelling healing method that needed to be shared. She adapted his story for documentary film and accompany him to his homeland in Rwanda, capturing interviews with his tai chi master, karate sensei and Rwandan mentors, Buddhist preceptor, surviving family members, Rwandan collaborators in peacemaking and reconciliation after the genocide, and his students of both martial arts and mindfulness. She also filmed him teaching a workshop on Shadow Work and Mindfulness at the University of Kisubi in Entebbe, Uganda.
Jenn believes that the story of Sangharakkhita's life--and the wisdom that he shares in his teachings--represent a valuable offering to audiences as they will be encouraged to reflect upon their own shadows--their debt, fear, shame and dread--as a way to bring them to the surface and begin to diffuse their volcanic energy. This film is a meditation on healing and forgiveness, wherever they are needed.
Professionally, Jenn Lindsay is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker who has been crafting compelling visual stories about religious beliefs and practices since 2005. She is based in Rome, Italy.
She has worked in film post-production since 2005 as a film editor, story assistant, and independent producer with MTV, the Sundance Channel, Atmosphere Pictures and Swete Films. Since 2010 as a “one man band” she has completed 7 documentaries (short and feature-length) about religious communities and practices, and is presently in production on a 10-episode documentary miniseries about religious studies and technology. She handles production, camera work, interviewing, editing and PR, drawing on her training as a playwright, anthropologist, journalist and editor to get her films finished and into the world.
Jenn holds an undergraduate degree in Playwriting from Stanford University (2001), graduate training in arts management from Yale University School of Drama (2005), a masters degree in religious studies from Columbia University (2011) and she is currently completing her PhD in the Anthropology of Religion at Boston University. As an anthropologist, Jenn specializes in the study of religious difference and interfaith dialogue.
In 2009 Lindsay launched a documentary production company which has screened ethnographic documentaries in festivals, conferences and classrooms, winning recognition from the International Society for Religion and Science, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Society for Psychological Anthropology. Presently Lindsay reports as a videographer for Religion News Service and is staff documentarian for the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston, where she produces short films and animations about the ongoing scientific projects of the Center. See her portfolio at https://vimeopro.com/jennlindsay/portfolio
For a decade prior to graduate study, Jenn worked in the film and music industries as a composer, film editor, performer and documentary filmmaker. Her ten albums are available on iTunes and at JennLindsay.com.