Path Alias: 

Museum Hours

Program Running Time 107 min.

Films in Program

Directed By: Jem Cohen
(Austria, USA, 2012, 107 mins, DCP)

When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways artworks reflect and shape the world.

"On the one hand a sad, poignant character study, "Museum Hours" is also a treatise on art history and a love letter to architectural wonder. A-" Eric Kohn, Indiewire

"Engaginly offbeat… Cerebral stuff, but delivered with warmth, wit and quiet confidence." Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter

"Delightfully accessible…filled with gently moving wit." Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight

Focus on China: Winter Cicadas

(2013, 86 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Mandarin with English subtitles
World Premiere


SPECIAL PREVIEW PRESENTATION - A young filmmaker returns to China from study abroad, speaking French on the phone. He journeys from the bustling metropolis of Shanghai to a remote monastery on Tian-Mu Mountain where he’s reunited with his mother after a tragic fire. A subtle, intimate and mysterious study in contrasts that touches on family, loss, guilt and creativity. Here is a China in transition, with confusion and alienation along with the steady beat of Buddhist chants.

Shugendo Now

(2010 , 91 mins, Digital Betacam)
In Japanese with English subtitles
Classification: G


"For us, these mountains are the dwellings of the kami and the buddhas…"

VANCOUVER PREMIERE - There is a unique school of Japanese asceticism called Shugendo, the Way of Acquiring Power, a blend of Shinto, Daoism and Buddhism. Practitioners perform arduous rituals in mountain wildernesses and are deeply committed to protecting the natural environment. Shugendo practitioners take guidance and inspiration from semi-legendary 7th century mystic En no Ozunu (or En no Gyoja), who is venerated as a bodhisattva. Shugendo is not one isolated tradition but various expressions of spiritual practice that share common practices and similar aims.

Shugendo Now is a poetic and intimate journey into a rarely seen world between the developed and the wild, between the present and the infinite.

Filmed on location in the Japanese mountains of Kumano and Yoshino, Tokyo and Osaka.

“Beautifully filmed, aesthetically pleasing, and religiously challenging." Paul Swanson

Focus on China: Amongst White Clouds

(2005, 86 mins, Digital Betacam)
In English and Mandarin with English subtitles


VANCOUVER PREMIERE - American director Edward A. Burger takes us on his unforgettable journey into the hidden lives of China’s forgotten Zen Buddhist hermit tradition. "Amongst White Clouds is a look at the lives of zealous students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China’s Zhongnan Mountain range." The Zhongnan Mountains have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. Many of China’s most realized Buddhist masters attained enlightenment in this very range! And now? It is widely thought that this tradition was all but wiped out by the twists and turns of history.

Amongst White Clouds shows us this is not the case. One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these hidden sages, Burger reveals to us their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives. With both humor and compassion, these inspiring and warm-hearted characters challenge us to join them in an exploration of our own suffering and enlightenment in this modern world.


(2006, 105 mins, DVCam)
In Tibetan and Hindi with English subtitles
Canadian Premiere


In a nunnery in the high desert mountains, a revered abbess dies, leaving signs that she will be reborn. Prayers and rituals must be performed to help her consciousness into its next rebirth, but the nunnery coffers are empty. The senior nuns decide that the only way is to try and get back money loaned out to a mysterious man. A nun by the name of Karma decides to take the journey to find this man. The film was shot in the remote region of Mustang in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal and follows Karma to Katmandu where she discovers that things are not what she thought. “Karma” also means “actions.” A rare and intriguing glimpse into the inner life of Tibetan nuns in a changing world.

Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth

(Herz des Himmels, Herz der Erde)
(2011, 98 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Spanish, Mayan with English subtitles


Only a few weeks ago, news broke that a 2,300 year old Mayan temple in Belize had been flattened by a construction company for use as roadfill. Sadly this story is nothing new. The location of the world’s largest—possibly toxic—gold-mine pit (operated by Vancouver’s own Goldcorp), Guatemala is also the homeland of the Maya and their decidedly holistic cosmology. Frauke Sandig and Eric Black’s kaleidoscopically beautiful documentary follows the daily and ceremonial lives of six articulate young Maya as they struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of twenty first century economic imperatives.

"The filmmakers attempt to capture a worldview. In their documentary, Chepita and other young present-day Maya speak in their own words without commentary. The filmmakers were in Guatemala and Mexico for more than a year, time to build the deep trust and intimacy required to participate in everyday life and sacred rituals. They brought along their curiosity and understanding. They let the Maya’s statements stand on their own and leave their questions open. Powerful images of nature are overlaid with the words from the creation myth, handed down through generations in the Popol Vuh, the holy book of the Maya.Giant tortoises come out of the sea to bury their eggs in the sand. The moon plays with the clouds, the shadows with the light.

The directors use our doomsday fantasy to give the contemporary Maya a voice. They in turn explain how they see the world and the real problems that threaten our devastation. Their analysis seems not unreasonable. What prevails today, they say, is another crisis much like the one that brought the collapse of their ancient Mayan civilization. Everyone wanted to amass more wealth; only the natural resources ran out. The ‘system’ is again reaching its limit. The result is, as one Maya says in the film, ’The era of the people of the corn is coming to an end.’”Sebastian Erb, Die Taz

"Of course one cannot simply reverse European history and the creation of the “Self”, which is also tied to liberation from the forces of nature. But one can empathize with a philosophy that does not separate the individual from nature. This different relationship to nature is better described with pictures than with words. Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth does exactly this, with clouds that glow from within, rivers with power one can sense, or mountains, which exude an inner peace. The camerawork creates settings that inspire fascination in a hitherto unknown world."

Peter Gutting, kino-zeit

"It is an exquisitely, achingly beautiful film – wonderfully conceived and sensitively filmed. I particularly appreciated the references to ancestral dreams and memories, sequences that ring truer than any film I’ve ever seen on Maya spirituality… The sequences on the war were particularly poignant. One of the communities I lived in for 6 months was completely wiped out—I still don’t know if anyone survived. It is my sincerest hope that some lived to tell their stories like the wonderful people in this film. What strikes me is the resilience of the Maya in the face of powerful and concerted efforts to destroy or alter it. I was profoundly affected by this film and will carry many of its images with me to the end of my days."

Allen J. Christenson, Author of Popul Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya

Olo, the Boy from Tibet

(2012, 108 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Japanese with English subtitles
Canadian Premiere
Classification: G


"At the age of 6 Olo left his family and fled from Tibet on his own. Currently, he studies as a boarding student at the Tibetan Children’s Village in India operated by the Tibetan-Government-in-Exile. This is a unique documentary which, by closely following a young boy, shows us the sentiments of a people continuing to live as refugees and the tragedy of Tibet, denied its nationality and culture.

Watching Olo mature having encountered and experienced many things—the arrest of a family friend for filming a movie on Tibetan soil; the arrest of a Tibetan friend attempting to flee the country; a journey to meet the an elderly woman, a friend of the director, who lives in a Nepalese refugee camp—we are confronted with the diverse realities of Tibet. What is a country? What is culture? What is it to live? The film forces us to contemplate universal problems.

The director, Iwasa Hisaya, is a veteran filmmaker who attracted attention in the 60s with his avant-garde documentaries. Through his distinctive direction, which skews the boundary between documentary and fiction, he portrays the sorrow and anguish of the Tibetan people without making loud political statements. The meeting of a director and a young boy whose age difference resembles that of a grandfather and grandchild has resulted in this is openly beautiful and warm film."

Akihiro Suzuki (Raindance Film Festival)

The Buddha

(2010, 112 mins, Digital Betacam)
In English
Canadian Premiere
CAST Narrated by Richard Gere
Classification: G
This screening will be followed by a free panel discussion.


An ambitious and imaginative film that uses animation and contemporary voices including poets Jane Hirshfield and US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman to explore the life and meaning of the man who became “awake,” and who continues to inspire the diverse Buddhist traditions all over the world.

The film, narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha through ancient artwork that depicts the various stages of Prince Siddhartha’s journey, contemporary animation that vividly portrays the legends surrounding the Buddha, and contemporary footage of northern India, where many rituals from the Buddha’s time are still practiced today.

Experts on the Buddha, representing a variety of disciplines, relate the key episodes of the Buddha’s life and reflect on what his journey means for us today. They include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; poets Jane Hirshfield and W.S. Merwin; scholars Robert Thurman, Kevin Trainor and Dr. Max Moerman; astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan; and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, as well as practicing Buddhist monastics.

“Buddhism is growing more and more popular in America,” said Grubin. “But the Buddha himself remains a mysterious, exotic figure, the founder of a religion in a different key. The Buddha never claimed to be God, or his emissary on earth. He said only that in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, he had found a serenity which others could find too. In our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion, the Buddha’s teachings have particular relevance.”

The Tiniest Place

(El lugar mas pequeño)
(2011, 104 mins, Digital Betacam)
In Spanish


Joy and sorrow: These are the first words uttered in Huezo’s film, and the emotional key notes in one of the most moving documentaries of recent times. On the surface The Tiniest Place is the story of Cinquera, a village literally wiped off the official map during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. But on a deeper level it is a story about the ability to rise, to rebuild and reinvent oneself after a tragedy.

Holding the past and present in focus together, the film takes us to the tiny village nestled in the mountains amidst the humid Salvadoran jungle, while villagers, survivors of the war’s massacres, recount their journey home at war’s end. When they first returned their village no longer existed. Nevertheless they decided to stay. And over the years as they worked the land, built new homes and started new families, the people of Cinquera learned to live with sorrow.

The Tiniest Place juxtaposes scenes of contemporary village life, of Cinquera’s remarkable renaissance, with stories of the war - how conflict arose, civil war erupted, and hopes for liberation turned to struggles for survival. "Don’t cry when they kill me" a mother recalls her 14-year old daughter telling her before running away to fight with the rebel army.

And though the village’s history is always visible - in an elaborate memorial for the dead, or the persistent tremor of a survivor’s hand, towards the end of The Tiniest Place we too are returned to the present. . We see that, if Cinquera is reemerging, it is through the strength and deep love of its inhabitants.

Director’s text

I was born in El Salvador, my father is Salvadorean and he and all his family lived through the civil war (1979-1992), I did not. One year before the war broke out, I moved to Mexico with my mother, I was four years old. My mother is Mexican and I grew up in Mexico.

I always travelled back to El Salvador. A few years ago I visited my paternal grandmother in San Salvador and she took me to the town were she was born, Cinquera. It took us three hours to get there on dirt roads. That same evening we arrrived I went out for a walk, alone. Suddenly an eldery woman hugged me, “Rina!” she shouted “you came back! You haven’t changed a bit!”. I didn’t know how to react, I told her it was a mistake, that I wasn’t Rina. The woman didn’t believe me. I’m not Rina, but I could have been.

Later, I stepped into the small town church, the walls were filled with bullet holes, there were only a few wooden benches, a military helicopter tail hung on a wall. There were very few religious images on the walls but there were rows of portraits of young people that died in the war.

The images and sensations of this space touched me deeply. I felt a need to know everything that happened here. These first moments in my grandmother’s town motivated me to make this film.

"A profound expression of the twin powers of life and death…The subject of the Central American wars of recent decades has rarely received such a level of artistic treatment onscreen." Robert Koehler, Variety

"Unforgettable…One of the finest docs I’ve seen over the past year." Howard Feinstein, Filmmaker Magazine

"Superb. 10/10." —Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters

The History of Future Folk

(.2013, 85 mins)
CAST Nils Daulaire, Jay Klavitz, Dee Snider, Julie Ann Emery


The hilarious (and possibly exaggerated) origin story of the real life alien bluegrass band, Future Folk, that has been charming NYC audiences with their live act for the better part of a decade. When a comet threatens to destroy their planet, the citizens of Hondo enlist their most decorated soldier, General Trius (Nils d’Aulaire), to search for a new home planet- and wipe out the current inhabitants with a flesh-eating virus. After landing somewhere near Brooklyn, General Trius wanders into a megastore to unleash the terror… when he’s suddenly enchanted by a strange and mystical human invention known as "music." They don’t have music on Hondo, and since it’s the best thing he’s ever heard, General Trius immediately abandons his mission to eradicate the human race, assumes the name Bill, starts a family, and launches a one-alien bluegrass act in a tiny bar owned by Larry (Dee Snider). Years later, his peaceful life is disrupted when the Hondonians send a bumbling assassin named Kevin (Jay Klaitz) to get the mission back on track. Although subduing Kevin is no challenge for the great General Trius, the Hondonians have no intention of calling off their plan to eliminate mankind, so Bill and Kevin must join forces to save Hondo, prevent an intergalactic takeover of Earth, and hopefully get some bigger gigs for the universe’s first Hondonian bluegrass duo: Future Folk!

"Close encounters of the charming kind." Robert Koehler, Variety

"Delightful." LA Weekly

"Hilarious." San Francisco Chronicle