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India · 2022 · Documentary · 92m · English and Tibetan with Catalan subtitles.

Screening day and time
24 / 10 / 2024 – 18:30 h.

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A journey through life and death. This feature documentary explores a phenomenon that blurs life and death to an unprecedented degree. In what Tibetan Buddhists call tukdam, advanced meditators die in a consciously controlled manner in meditation. Though dead according to our biomedical standards, they often stay sitting upright in meditation posture. Remarkably, their bodies remain fresh and lifelike, without signs of decay for days, sometimes weeks after clinical death. The film follows the first ever scientific research into tukdam by neuroscientist Richard Davidson’s team, juxtaposed with intimate death stories of tukdam meditators and Tibetan understandings of the death process. Unfolding in cinematic dialogue between scientific and Tibetan perspectives, the film unravels our certainties about life and death, and shows how differently death can be construed in different cultural contexts.


Finnish-Irish-American filmmaker, Donagh Coleman is a recipient of the 2022 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies for his research project: “Between Worlds: Cultural Bodies, Death Processes and Tukdam.” His previous films with wide international festival and TV exposure include “A Gear Bard’s Tale” (winner of best documentary film at the 2014 First Peoples’ Festival in Montreal) and “Stone Pastures” (Winner of the Grand Prix prize at the 2009 Cervino Cinemountain International Film Festival in Italy). Coleman’s films have also been shown at museums such as MoMA and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, and by the European Commission. The filmmaker/scholar is currently completing a PhD in medical anthropology at UC Berkeley, continuing research conducted for Tukdam.

Awards and Nominations

Official selection: Galway Film Fleadh / Helsinki International Film Festival (2022) / Mill Valley Film Festival (2022) /Dharamshala International Film Festival (2022) / DocPoint Tallinn (2023)

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