THE SAD MONK – AUDIENCE FEEDBACK from the March 2017 DOC Shorts Festival

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Kierston Drier:

  MOVIE POSTERTHE SAD MONK, 11min. Germany
Directed by Diana Frankovic

Following this path to Nepal, we meet the young Tibetan buddhist monk Tenzin, a representative of a new generation, who is grappling with the questions of life and his religion. But instead of enlightenment, we find doubtful young monks who are asking the same kind of questions about their lives as we do about ours.

Director’s Statement:

Let me tell you a little bit about the story.

So a couple of years ago I took a sabbatical from my job. Actually, I’m a radio host from Berlin. And why? I was exhausted, burned out and unhappy. I had to get away from it all, and find a way to change that, to be truly happy. So I packed my suitcase and began traveling through Asia, and finally Nepal, where I spent months meditating, exploring and visiting monasteries, and THIS is where I met Tenzin. An amazing Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Spending time together we realized we had so many things in common, like dreams and desires, like love and sex, also tenderness for friends and family. But what I was really astonished to discover was that we also share an attachment to material things.

I would have never expected a real Buddhist to also be seeking satisfaction in the latest iphone! The other thing we have in common is, actually, sadness. Both of us realized we just wanted to be happy, but in a way, we didn’t know how. And as a journalist….I wanted, I needed to tell Tenzin’s story. The whole world seems to be looking for the perfect solution to the problem of happiness. Even my new friend, a Tibetan Buddhist monk was obsessed with finding it. This is a story I wanted to tell. So I decided to make a film about The Sad Monk.

I wrote a script and started looking for a production company, which I found. I just had to make a few changes. But the changes were non-stop, the script, the trailer, just everything. Suddenly my producers wanted me to make the story about myself and my feel-good journey to happiness, which was never ever my intention. And after a year together, I had made so many changes to my film, compromised the story completely, that my vision of Tenzin was gone, the story of the sad monk was buried.

Of course when it came time for my producers to pitch the film to TV-Stations, they failed. And when they failed, they dropped me. I was devastated. Ruined. I spent so much time and all of my money to get this far, and suddenly it was over. I hit rock bottom. So I did the same thing I did two years ago: I packed my suitcase and started traveling again. To find new inspiration and strength. But I also found motivation and support. I realized I still had to tell Tenzin’s story. I’m just going to take a different path to get there, with crowdfunding.

So I used my existing footage to recut a short film, which, I’ll submit to film festivals all over the world. This way, I can begin to share the story of the sad monk, and it’s also how I’m going to find a new producer who will be inspired to make this story into a feature length film with me. This is just the beginning.

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