Movie Screening: Tukdam—Between Worlds



Movie Screening: Tukdam—Between Worlds


Thu., Apr 20 2023 - 7:00 PM


Violet Crown Charlottesville

In concert with the Generative Contemplation Symposium, the feature documentary, "Tukdam: Between Worlds" by Donagh Coleman, will be shown at the Violet Crown Charlottesville. A reception and Q & A with the filmmaker follows the screening. Tickets are $20 per person and are on sale now here: Eventbrite. Ticket price is included for registrants of the Symposium. 


In what Tibetans call tukdam, deceased meditators show no signs of death for days, or even weeks. Juxtaposing ground-breaking scientific research and Tibetan perspectives, this creative documentary challenges our notions of life and death, and where we draw the line between them.  View the trailer below or here



Most of us think of death as something clear-cut, and that medical science has it neatly figured out. This feature documentary explodes such assumptions through its exploration of a phenomenon that blurs life and death to an unprecedented degree. In what Tibetan Buddhists call tukdam, advanced meditators die in a consciously controlled manner. Though dead according to our biomedical standards, they often stay sitting upright in meditation; remarkably, their bodies remain fresh and lifelike, without signs of decay for days, sometimes weeks after clinical death. Following groundbreaking American scientific research into tukdam and taking us into intimate death stories of Tibetan meditators, the film juxtaposes scientific and Tibetan perspectives as it tries to unravel the mystery of tukdam.

Finnish-Irish-American filmmaker-scholar Donagh Coleman holds degrees in Philosophy and Psychology (B.A.) and Music and Media Technologies (M.Phil.) from Trinity College Dublin, and a M.A. in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley. Donagh is a 2022 Dissertation Fellow in the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, and a PhD candidate in medical anthropology at UC Berkeley where his research has focused on Tibetan Buddhist tukdam deaths. Donagh's previous award-winning films with wide international festival and TV exposure include A Gesar Bard's Tale (2013) and Stone Pastures (2008). His films have also been shown at museums such as MoMA and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, and by the European Commission. Besides films and TV-docs, Donagh directs radio documentaries for the Finnish and Irish national broadcasters. His Radio Feature Gesar! was Finland’s entry for the 2012 Prix Italia competition, and his feature Do I Exist? was Finland’s entry for the 2015 Prix Europa competition. Donagh has also worked as a TV journalist and presenter for the Finnish broadcaster YLE News.