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With the working title of Vidyadhara, Mark Elliott has embarked on his third film about the Karmapa Lineage.

Vidyadara will focus on His Holiness XVII Gyalwa Karmapa and his tour in Germany in the early summer of 2014. Vidyadara literally means ‘wisdom holder’. As the inheritor of the one-thousand year old Karmapa Lineage, the 17th Karmapa is regarded as the living embodiment of the Buddhist teachings.

The Karmapa is also a young man who is keen to explore the world. He has had an extraordinary journey in his life so far, from his upbringing within a nomad family in an almost medieval Tibet to his daring escape over the Himalayas to India at the age of fourteen, at the dawn of the new millennium.  Since that time he has received permission to travel abroad only twice before to the United States.

Now he arrives in Germany for a two week tour. From the charming village of Lagenfeld where he meets with his congregation as well as local citizenry, to the fabled motor racing circuit of the Nuremburgring where he teaches to a packed auditorium; from Cologne where he tours the cathedral and meets with a Roman Catholic archbishop to Berlin where he continues his teaching, holding his a mass audience spellbound by his warmth, wisdom, humor and charisma. The Karmapa speaks with remarkable openness about himself and the often challenging situation of being “the Karmapa”. And he pays moving visits to the Holocaust Memorial as well as to a synagogue where he has a charming and profound meeting with a rabbi. We also accompany him on a boat tour though Berlin where he can relax with friends and family.

Throughout these encounters, the Karmapa emerges as a teacher, even as a Buddha, for modern times. While upholding his ancient and distinguished wisdom lineage, he is very aware of the social, political and environmental challenges of the modern world. He has a striking curiosity about the West and a profound wish to make a contribution towards healing the cultural, social, and technological “sicknesses” that affect modern society.

The Karmapas have always been travelers, rarely staying in one place for long. One predecessor became the teacher of the Emperor of China, another converted the Mongol ruler. So in some sense the 17th is continuing a very traditional role, but this time in a very different context. With his extraordinary charisma he receives an welcome equivalent to a major rock star, attracting huge crowds wherever he goes. Every-one seems to want a piece of him. How does he deal with this?

The answer is: quite magnificently, as he leaves a profound and lasting impression on all those he encounters. Crestone Films was granted almost unprecedented accesses as official filmmakers for the tour. Intimate footage of the tour combines with pith teachings, as well as interviews with the Karmapa and other key participants, all within a framework of the history of the Karmapas and their extraordinary place in the world to Tibetan Buddhism.

Vidyadhara promises to take us even deeper into knowing the life and vision of the Karmapas.

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