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ZEITGEIST FILMS in association with KINO LORBER present

ZEN FOR NOTHING

Germany/Japan · 2016 · Documentary · 100 min. · English, Japanese and German with Catalan or Spanish subtitles

Screeening day and time
25 / 10 / 2024 – 18:30 h. Spanish subtitles
26 / 10 / 2024 – 16:15 h. Catalan subtitles

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Synopsis

The title may be provocative, but this film is a masterly immersion into life at a Japanese Zen monastery over three seasons of a year. Swiss novice Sabine arrives at Antaiji, and after a brief welcome, the learning process of the monastery rules begins: how to bow, how to sit in the meditation hall on the cushion in front of the empty wall, how to carry out the individual movements with the chopsticks in connection with the three black painted wooden bowls, how to behave… There’s more to life in the monastery than meditation, farming, and maintenance—there are picnics and music, and Wi-Fi. And after the last snow has melted away, the nuns and monks travel to Osaka where they recite sutras in front of subway entrances as they solicit offerings in their traditional monk’s robes. Quotes from renowned early 20th century Antaij abbot Koda Sawaki are interjected throughout. Simple, and beautifully filmed, this is Into Great Silence meets Enlightenment Guaranteed, with Fred Frith, composer, performing the eclectic and elegant score.

Direction

German filmmaker Werner Penzel is a well-travelled musician and documentarian whose films include Vagabunden Karawane, Adios Al Odio, and, with author and film director Nicolas Humbert, Step Across the Border, Middle of the Moment, Brother Yusef, and Three Windows. He was the cinematographer for Doris Dörrie’s Enlightenment Guaranteed, and he lived in Japan for many years, studying at Zen monasteries Eiheiji and Antaiji. Together with author, film director and fellow traveller Nicolas Humbert they founded the production company CineNomad in 1987. Their first major project was the music film Step Across the Border about English composer Fred Frith. Premiered in 1990, the film received awards at numerous film festivals. In 2000, critics from the Cahier du Cinéma magazine ranked it among hundred most significant films of the 20th century.
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