Last night, looking for a movie that was in Thai with English subtitles (for a change), I went to see Buddha's Lost Children, a visually powerful documentary about the Golden Horse Monastery near Thailand's border with Burma. In an area plagued by poverty and drug addiction, abbot Phra Khru Neua Chai Kositto takes in orphans and trains them to be novice monks, often sparking an unbelievable transformation of shy, malnourished boys into happy spirited young men. A mythic figure, Phra Khru Ba is a heavily tattooed Buddhist monk, a former Thai kickboxer who exerts tough love with a smile -- and often atop a horse (the monastery keeps 120, rescued from slaughterhouses). The film features three boys, including one -- the ebullient 4-year-old Boontam, who can't walk -- that Phra Khru Ba is convinced might be the reincarnated Buddha.
It was a truly amazing film: a moving, funny, eye-opening and triumphant documentary, and I'd urge you to see it. It's screening tonight only at Minneapolis' Bell Auditorium and in 16 other American cities. (Proceeds at the Bell go to the Golden Horse Monastery, which subsists only on donations.)