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Reconstructing Faith

Wen Hai

Release year: 2010

Run time: 79 min


In the city of Yueyang, Hunan, in central China, there is a non-governmental organization called the "Zhu Nian Group" of about 300 people. 80% of these people are women and middle-aged and elderly people, most of whom have no higher education. With the life experience they have accumulated over the past few decades, they voluntarily organize such groups, hoping to improve their lives and souls through religion. Their main purpose is to provide hospice care for the widowed elderly and help the disabled. All activities are unpaid.

The abbot of Yueyang Zizhulin Temple is Master Guo. Master Guo taught the Dharma abroad for many years before returning to her hometown. It took her more than ten years to collect Buddha relics from Malaysia, Indonesia and other places. She decided to repair the local Kunshan temple and build the stupa. The construction of the stupa started in 2006 and was completed in 2009.

Zizhulin Temple is the main venue for laymen. People practice and discuss Zen. Some things outside will become the topic of discussion here, such as "Will the Bodhisattva bless corrupt officials …?". The Zen courtyard gives these people who are socially isolated a place to gather, where people do not feel lonely and powerless. Maybe this is an attempt at "Human Buddhism".

The famous Zen master De Shaoyun tells us his personal experiences. These experiences include the destruction of Buddhism from 1949 to the Cultural Revolution and the history of Buddhists, including Master Shaoyun’s master, Xuyun, and their persistence and belief.


Director biography

Wen Hai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has since 2001 been active as an independent film director. Among his best known films are Floating Dust (2004), which won the Prix Georges Beauregard at the 16th Festival International du Documentaire in Marseille in 2005; Dream Walking (2006), awarded the Grand Prize at the 2006 Cinéma du Réel; and the film We, which won the Horizons Special Mention award at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. Wen Hai also worked as a camera man on WangBing's film Three Sisters (2012). His 2016 book The Gaze of Exile: Witnessing Chinese Independent Documentary Films (《放逐的凝视——见证中国独立纪录片》)is published in Taipei by Tendency.