An Attempt at a Comprehensive List of Films about Buddhism.

Via Reverend Danny Fisher
on Mar 3, 2009
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Photo by Danny Fisher.

Though comprehensiveness was not one of my stated goals when I offered the “Five Great Films about Buddhism” post a couple of days ago, a reader nonetheless commented that I had “missed a tremendous number” of titles.  This reminded me that I had attempted a comprehensive list last year at my blog.  Though I certainly cannot claim that this actually is a comprehensive list of films explicitly about Buddhism, it’s the best I can do with the resources for research at my disposal.  Reader additions/suggestions are most welcome.

And just so we’re clear:  What follows is a list is of all the significant narrative films and documentaries I can find that are specifically about Buddhism. This does not include films like The Matrix or Groundhog Day, which could be considered Buddish, but are not explicitly about Buddhism.

[One note: Like the IMDb, I have tended to use titles in the language of the country in which it was originally released. Thus, The Cup is listed as Phörpa; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring as Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom; Enlightenment Guaranteed as Erleuchtung Garantiert; and so on.]

  • À La Recherche de Kundun avec Martin Scorsese
  • Aje Aje Bara Aje
  • Amongst White Clouds: Buddhist Hermit Masters of China’s Zhongnan Mountains
  • Angulimala
  • Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet
  • Asoka
  • Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom
  • Buddha’s Lost Children
  • Buddha Wild: The Monk in a Hut
  • Calling of the Dragon
  • Compassion and Wisdom: A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
  • Compassion In Exile: The Story of the 14th Dalai Lama
  • Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
  • Dalai Lama Renaissance
  • Dalmaya Nolja
  • Dao Ma Zei
  • Destroyer of Illusion: The Secret World of a Tibetan Lama
  • The Dhamma Brothers
  • Dharma River
  • Dharmaga Tongjoguro Kan Kkadalgun
  • Doing Time, Doing Vipassana
  • Dong Seung
  • Dreaming Lhasa
  • Erleuchtung Garantiert
  • Fearless Mountain
  • Himalaya – L’enfance D’un Chef
  • How to Cook Your Life
  • Hwaomkyung
  • Ice and Water
  • The Knowledge of Healing
  • Kundun
  • The Lion’s Roar
  • Little Buddha
  • Marga
  • Mandala
  • Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei
  • Meditate and Destroy
  • Milarepa
  • Mountains and Rivers
  • Now I Know You: A Tribute to Taizan Maezumi Roshi
  • Oseam
  • Ososhiki
  • Peace Is Every Step: Meditation In Action: The Life and Work of Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Phörpa
  • Prajna Earth
  • Sacred Wildness: The Teachings of Rocks and Water
  • Samsara (2001)
  • Samsara (2009)
  • Sansani Buseojin Ileumiyeo
  • Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy
  • Seven Years in Tibet
  • Siddhartha
  • Shinran Shonin – The Light of the World
  • 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
  • Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy
  • Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead (A Way of Life / The Great Liberation)
  • Travellers and Magicians
  • Vajra Sky Over Tibet
  • Watching the Rock Grow: History of Zen Mountain Monastery
  • Water Buddhas
  • The Water Way
  • Wheel of Time
  • Windhorse
  • Words of My Perfect Teacher
  • Xia Nu
  • Zen Buddhism: In Search of Self
  • A Zen Life-D.T. Suzuki
  • The Zen Mind
  • Zen Noir

    About Reverend Danny Fisher

    Rev. Danny Fisher, M.Div., D.B.S. (Cand.), is a professor and Coordinator of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at University of the West in Rosemead, CA. He was ordained as a lay Buddhist minister by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California in 2008. In addition, he is certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor by Naropa University in association with Shambhala International. A member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, he serves on the advisory council for the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program. In addition to his work for elephant journal, he is a blogger for Shambhala Sun. He has also written for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Religion Dispatches, The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, The Journal of Religion & Film, Eastern Horizon, New York Spirit, Alternet's Wiretap Magazine, and other publications. His award-winning website is


    13 Responses to “An Attempt at a Comprehensive List of Films about Buddhism.”

    1. JayD says:

      'Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring.' Excellent film that is basically a Buddhist parable.

    2. Mahala says:

      You might add Mystic Tibet to the list. Beautiful pilgrimage film with Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

      Have you watched Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy? (in your list) I've often thought of buying it. The trailer on the site is so powerful.

    3. Mahala: I have seen "Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy." It's excellent. Especially good for education/activism purposes.

    4. I've added a few titles that come to us courtesy of my friend and fellow minister Nathan Michon.

    5. Katie Fabac says:

      I have been looking for a list like this. Wonderful, Danny. Thanks!

    6. Guest says:

      And coming soon: When the Iron Bird Flies!

    7. dub_xion says:

      Would love to see a list of buddh-ish films involving heavy buddhist themes, would spark a great conversation! Fight Club, The Matrix, Big Lebowski…

    8. vanessa says:

      what about the matrix?

    9. I agree with Jay – it is definitely a Buddhist film, and one of my favorites

    10. William Harryman says:

      oh wait, you covered that – native language and all – so, d'oh!

    11. "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable" ( is also quite good

    12. You also forgot "The Razor's Edge", Bill Murray's first and best serious role.
      it is what brought me into buddhism at the age of 16.