Archive Page 2

06
Jul
08

SOGYAL RINPOCHE

Time for my annual visit to Dzogchen Beara to hear the teachings of Tibetan master Sogyal Rinpoche and to see the amazing progress made in building the new Care Centre, which will be used as a model for the healthcare community, putting into practice some of Tibetan buddhism’s so-called “wisdom teachings” on death and dying. I have always found these teachings particularly compelling and back in 2000 I made a video to help fund-raising for the centre. There is a short version on YouTube. Great to see that it is now a reality.

17
Apr
08

BACK IN THE USA

20
Mar
08

FILMING NOW IN PROGRESS

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09
Mar
08

EAST SIDE TO EAST END

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01
Mar
08

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND…..

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Today is Saturday, March 1.  My birthday. And I actually do feel rather weepy. I am now 56 years old.  An irrefutable fact which still seems hard to fathom. Part of me is stuck irrevocably somewhere in my late 20s, a young travelling man, discovering Africa and himself.  Unbounded, or so it felt.  Certainly not the happiest time of my life, but the one I always return to with a memory of the greatest sense of freedom. Perhaps it was a freedom of the soul.  Because I certainly don’t lack freedom now, of mobility or opportunity, or of choice.  Much of it born of being both childless and with a bit of money in the bank. I always tell people that that’s my great privilege — which brings with it my greatest sense of responsibility: to try to live a good life, to make a difference where I can, perhaps even to leave some part of the world better than I found it. High hopes.

Every day for weeks now I have gone for a morning coffee to a little place on 12th Street between Avenues A and B called Ciao For Now, a wonderful little establishment with its own bakery, serving delicious decaf soy latte, that is owned and run by a couple of California exiles with radical politics and a great taste in retro pop music which plays rather like the soundtrack to my youth.  Walking back from there this morning I suddenly found myself thinking about my father, and one particular episode close to his death.  He was bed-ridden after several little strokes and with a broken hip and had already received the last rites at least once.  It came round to the anniversary of my mum’s death, which had been four years earlier, and my sister and I said that we were going to visit her grave. My dad asked us, almost apologetically, as was often his way, if he could come too.  And so he did.  We organised a private ambulance and somehow managed to wheel him on a gurney across the steeply sloping graveyard to the spot where her ashes are buried, marked by little plaque, half of it left empty so that my father’s name could join my mother’s.  The priest came and conducted a little memorial service.  My father was stoical as ever, tears in his eyes, but with a look of great tenderness on his face. We all knew that he was ready to die, and a few weeks later he did. He was 84 years old.

 

17
Feb
08

THE COOKING CIRCLE

The last film I made with Sally was called YES.  It is about the relationship between an American woman and a Middle Eastern man, played by the Armenian-Lebanese-French actor, Simon Abkarian who is originally from Beirut.  His character is a doctor, exiled to London and working as a cook.  Happily Simon himself loves to cook and there is a scene in the film with him expertly chopping vegetables in the midst of a political argument with the other kitchen workers. 

YES had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.  Some time afterwards, Tom Luddy who runs the festival, invited Sally and I for a drink in a Manhattan restaurant called the Russian Samovar – which he seems to use as his New York office – where he introduced us to Alexis Bloom, a documentary filmmaker originally from South Africa and now living in New York.  Alexis has since become a friend and our paths had crossed again in London courtesy of Charles Ferguson who was there to screen his first film, a remarkable documentary called “No End In Sight” which is up for an Academy Award next weekend. 

Last weekend Alexis — who knows I have a particular interest in death and dying —  invited me to an event at the wonderful Rubin Museum about what happens to our brain when we die, both from a neurological and a Tibetan Buddhist perspective — great stuff.  Also there was another friend of hers, Jasmine Dellal, whose film “When The Road Bends...” just happens to be about the Romanian gypsy band, Taraf de Haidouks, who Sally had featured in her film THE MAN WHO CRIED (and thereby introduced them to Johnny Depp). 

A few days later Jasmine invited Sally and me to dinner at a friends house.  His name is Ahmad and he is from the Beirut.  He is not a doctor but he certainly loves to cook — and to talk politics.  Here he is in action in his New York kitchen:

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16
Feb
08

WINTER SUNSHINE

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