Local Documentary Filmmaker Wins at United Nations Vesak 2014 Film Festival

Arising Light: Dr B R Ambedkar and a New Era in India, a film by David Blundell, Ph.D. of anthropology (University of California) and Prof at National Chengchi University, Taipei, received this year’s Best Documentary Film Award at the United Nations Vesak 2014 Film Festival, 8th May in Vietnam.

47 countriUN_Vesak_2014_Film_Award_Laurelses submitted films related to Buddhist themes; the categories were feature films, documentaries, short films, animated films, and TV series; each category short-listed 5 films for final competion. Sri Siddhartha Gautama (Sri Lanka) was judged the best film in the category of Feature Films. Other awards for Best Actress and Best Photography were given to Four Seasons (South Korea). The Best Animated Film award went to Monkey Hunter (South Korea). Thailand carried away the Best Art Direction award for its films Mindfulness and Murder. Best Short Film award went to The Void (Japan). The best TV Series was awarded to the Path to Enlightenment (Vietnam).

The Film

Arising Light tells the story of Dr B R Ambedkar (1891-1956), who rose from the community of the untouchable (dalit) in India to educate himself in the United States and England. He became a national leader in India’s struggle for equality and justice. He framed the constitution that made India a secular state and gave inspiration for the dharma wheel emblem on the national flag. After independence in 1947, Dr Ambedkar became India’s first Minister of Law. In October, 1956, at Nagpur, in the center of India, with a multitude joining in, he embraced Buddhism.

This current life history film project is the story of this man, equal in stature in India to Gandhi and Nehru, yet not well known elsewhere. The film looks at the historical implications of Dr Ambedkar’s social transformation vis-à-vis the legendary Sakyamuni Buddha’s own revolution 2,500 years ago regarding social and caste limitations and the quest for personal liberation.

The UN Vesak Film Festival

The United Nations International Film Festival was just one of many Buddhist-themed activities held around Vietnam to commemorate the United Nations Day of Vesak 2014, the major Buddhist festival of the year celebrating the birth, awakening, and passing away of the Buddha on one single day – surrounding the first full moon day in May.

The international film festival aims to educate as well as entertain the audiences in an engaging manner. The range of themes for the festival is wide including films on social, contemporary, historical issues, and aspects related to Buddhism around the globe.

The organizing board and 2,500 volunteers received around 10,000 participants, including 1,500 guests from 100 countries and 8,500 local Buddhists and visitors. Activities focused on numerous matters, the most prominent of which were Buddhist responses to sustainable development and social issues, including global warming and environmental protection, wholesome lifestyle, peacekeeping, and post-conflict recovery.


David Blundell receiving film award. Photo by Jeanette Zerneke.



任教於國UN_Vesak_2014_Film_Award_Laurels立政治大學的美籍教授卜道(David Blundell)所拍攝的影片《曙光:安貝卡博士與他開創的印度新紀元》(Arising Light: Dr B R Ambedkar and a New Era in India),5月8日在越南河內舉辦的「聯合國衛塞節」慶典「2014國際衛塞節佛教影展」中獲選為最佳紀錄片。

關於本影展 —- 聯合國「2014國際衛塞節佛教影展」

衛塞節又稱為佛誕日,許多佛教國家在這一年一度的重要節日中舉行盛大慶典活動。聯合國承認了這個最初起源於南傳佛教傳統紀念佛教創始人釋迦牟尼誕生、成道、涅槃(離世)於同一天的衛塞節日,於是國際正式名稱為「聯合國衛塞節」(United Nations Day of Vesak)。每年衛塞節的日期通常訂在新曆五月的第一個月圓日前後。














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David Blundell receiving film award. Photo by Jeanette Zerneke.