Minding Shadows: the documentary film trailer






the story

A young man survives the Rwanda genocide to grow up and become a Buddhist monk who teaches trauma healing to people around the world. 

As a teenager after the genocide, devastated and eager to take personal revenge, Olivier Biraro enrolled in Karate and Taekwondo classes to become fierce and deadly…instead, he had a profound experience of peace and discipline, and it changed him forever. 

Today, as the Venerable Sangharakkhita, he teaches people through the "Shadow Work" method to attain fierce peace and find forgiveness from the inside out.




We live in a distressing world. Terrorism, mass immigration, corruption, political quagmires and secret injuries abound. Difficulties assert themselves in public and private realms, testing our resilience, creativity, and character. In order to face the many challenges of life--some of which begin in childhood, in unstable homes and contexts of poverty, racism or even war--we need effective tools and teachers. In order to thrive and bounce back, we must learn to clearly recognize and evaluate our difficulties, both those imposed upon us and those originating from within us. Such a clear view is the result of practice, and results from a cultivation of personal groundedness, mindful recognition that emotional reactions and mental perceptions are merely information, not threats or determining facts. With a cool and clear eye turned toward our troubles, we can begin to accept our surroundings and accept ourselves, to the extent that we can free ourselves from a context and proceed resiliently from one challenge to the next as if they were lily pads dotting the pond of life that time compels us to cross. 

Venerable Sangharakkhita’s story is a portrait of resilience in the face of evil, violence, and vengeant jealousy that provides a template for bouncing back from difficulties. It is both timely and timeless, a demonstration of resilience and flourishing after trauma, and a toolkit for handling the suffering afflicting us, from political to psychological levels. It casts an unblinking eye on the importance of airing out the shadows, secrets, fears and anger that so many people keep submerged. Filmed in Rwanda, Uganda and Switzerland, it extends a story of hope and recovery in the most unlikely situations. This story is a portrait of intelligent resilience and balanced, ethical, generous spiritual leadership that will captivate the interest of many people and speak to questions dear to the heart of many people: how to we forgive those who have gravely wronged us? How can we be free of our rage, blame, regret and shame? How can we become balanced individuals who are able to embrace all parts of our complicated pasts and inner turmoil?

This story is important because so many of us seek the peace, freedom and forgiveness attained by Sangharakkhita--but we don't know where to find it. We have been taught that we should forgive for our own sake--but we do not know how. This film follows a person who journeyed out of a profound darkness toward the light, who has learned to bring others with him. The heart of the film is his story out of darkness, and the guts of the film are his methods for thriving in the face of all the challenges life poses. 



Where can I see the film?

Minding Shadows has completed the stages of pre-production/development and principal filming on the majority of Sangharakkhita's story. In June 2017 Jenn Lindsay acted as Producer/Director and Cameraperson in Rwanda and Uganda, opting to work alone in order to preserve trust, access and maneuverability. The footage captured during this production schedule forms the foundation of the film. Nevertheless, more remains to be captured....

After distribution to festivals, this documentary film will continue to be of interest to community interfaith/intercultural groups as a discussion piece about the role of healing, inner peace, interreligious peacebuilding and personal growth in dialogue efforts. Moreover, it can be a useful educational tool for classrooms and discussion leaders interested in exploring topics ranging from conflict resolution, the dialogue movement, personal healing and interreligious/intercultural dialogue conducted in the global South. It can be suitable for environments interested in theological, historical, social scientific discussion or for social events as a conversation piece.