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Chris McKenna is a mitra practicing with the Hastings sangha on the south coast of England. Five years ago, after discussion with friends, Chris approached the local independent cinema - The Electric Palace - about the possibility of showing regular screenings of films that would be of interest to the local Buddhist community.
Initially the cinema was reluctant and asked if he could guarantee that twenty five of the fifty seats would be filled. Obviously he couldn’t be sure of that level of attendance but he assured them that he would work tirelessly to promote the films as widely as possible to groups that may also have an interest. (This has been so much the case that it has become a running joke in Hastings that Chris can’t hold a conversation without mentioning Buddhist film night!)
On 11th January 2015 The Electric Palace screened ‘The Cup’, a Tibetan film, and the cinema management were delighted with the attendance and particularly with the takings at the bar. They were expecting Buddhists to only drink water!
The films are sourced by exploring the programmes of Buddhist festivals in Europe and America or are suggested by members of the community. They are mostly films that would be very hard to find elsewhere: they are not generally available on streaming services and certainly won’t be found at the local multiplex.
The screenings have been mostly well attended both by Buddhists and non-Buddhists with the films proving a way of raising the profile of Triratna within Hastings.
One cold February Sunday night when they showed ‘Zen for Nothing’ - a mostly silent film set in a monastery - they had to turn away a dozen people!
If you are interested in following Hastings’ example and setting up your own evenings at a local cinema Chris is happy to answer any questions and provide film suggestions. His email address is palomboliz [at] aol.com.
If you fancy a trip to Hastings these are the forthcoming presentations -
15th March, 7.30pm: ‘Honeygiver Among the Dogs’ - A Bhutanese film noir.
19th April, 8.00pm: ‘The Medicine Buddha’ - A film about a Mongolian Lama who is considered a national treasure.
14th June: ‘The Dalai Lama - Scientist’
Tickets can be booked via The Electric Palace website.