This documentary film portrays the extraordinary spiritual journeys of
Father François Ponchaud, a French Catholic priest, and Mother
Rosemary, an English Anglican nun. It interweaves the bustle, anguish
and antiquities of Cambodia on the one hand with the serene poise of an
enclosed convent in England on the other.
priest and the nun lead very different lives. Father François
Ponchaud, a member of the Foreign Missions of Paris, has worked in
Cambodia – with the Christian minority, with Buddhist monks, with the
poor and with refugees – since 1965. He has translated the Bible into
the Khmer language and written the definitive history of the Catholic
church in Cambodia. In 1977, Ponchaud wrote Cambodia Year Zero – the
book that alerted the world to the terrible nature of the Pol Pot
Rosemary leads a life of silence and prayer in an enclosed convent, at
Fairacres in Oxford. She took life vows in her twenties and was elected
Mother Superior in her forties. Mother Rosemary’s community, the
Sisters of the Love of God, is one of the few contemplative orders in
the Anglican church. Rosemary has had a long standing interest in
Buddhism. In 1991, she spent a two-month sabbatical at Amaravati - a
Buddhist Monastery in Hertforshire, founded by western-born Buddhists
trained in north-east Thailand.
Ponchaud and Rosemary have had to face the inevitable questions posed
by head-on encounter between Christianity and Buddhism. Questions like,
‘can Buddhists attain to eternal life?, Has your contact with Buddhism
changed your thoughts on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ?, Can the Holy
Spirit act through a Buddhist?, Is Buddhist meditation more passive
that Christian Prayer?’
answers to these questions are direct, lucid and humble. The result is
a film which is thought provoking and profound – a film for anyone
interested in the spiritual life and the future of religious traditions.
shown to pre-release audiences of religious and inter-faith leaders,
documentary makers and film critics in The Vatican, New York, London
and Paris, The Cross and the Bodhi Tree has received acclaim for its
profundity and its stunning imagery.