It’s refreshing to see a documentary where the film maker stays out of the way and lets the subjects tell their own stories by letting us into their lives. This true story really is as the caption says: “a breathtaking true story of compassion and tough love”. Even if you have no passion for Buddhism or Thailand, as one might expect you’d need to have, this film is a must see. This little community in the remote hills of Northern Thailand is not portrayed as exotic and alien, but instead brought to life with a pallet of our most familiar human emotions. Buddha’s Lost Children shows how Khru Bah, a Thai kickboxing champion turned monk, has become an unorthodox father figure for many orphaned or impoverished children from villages in rural Thailand. Filmed over the course of a year, fly-on-the-wall style, it reveals that although some of Khru Bahâs physical childrearing methods may seem unorthodox, he clearly has won the affection and respect of the villagers and his children.
Outside of child-rearing methodologies, Khru Bah’s mission is actually quite in line with American values. These kind of monks, of the old forest tradition, are nearly extinct, however as you will see, they are still relevant and very much needed for these rural children and the hill tribe villages from which they come. Some children stay, others leave, but they all will carry this experience with them for the rest of their lives. The mountainous setting for the monastery, with its stables of ponies and lush landscape, and a long trek made by the new boys, or “novices”, is evocatively shot, but the film could have been more circumspect. This is a great way to understand monastic living in the village. Monastic communities in urban setting seem to have easier conditions to cultivate under.
In my line of working with others, this glimpse of life -far from us- instills the fact that there are wonderful, useful, human beings, throughout the world, endeavoring to make change. It is an inspiration that no matter what the economy- action, gratitude and the will to be a part of life can make a difference. Or as Sadhguru Vasudev says: “You can live life on the surface- or find deeper meaning.” A sense of peace permeates through the film, but it also reveals feelings that are authentic, touching and very much alive. Pra Kruh Bah and Khun Mae Ead have done so much from so little but the children should share equally in their own success from their hard work, self discipline and dedication. The language is in Thai and is subtitled well with a minimal narrative from time to time.
In the beginning of the film, we see a mother giving up her son because she cannot afford to raise all her kids. She entrusts her son to Kruh Bah, a monk dedicated to changing the lives of others. In his words, he is a medium to pass on knowledge to children. Not only does he teach the teachings of Buddha, but also very basic things such as the importance of brushing teeth every day. The children also get to learn how to handle animals, and how to do so with respect. Watching Buddhas Lost Children brought me into a certain mood that made me reflect on what is really important in life, that’s why for me this documentary is a valuable lesson in what life is really about. You can see the confidence grow within these boys in a very short window of time and it is a beautiful experience to witness. The stories that unfold in this documentary are heart warming and honest. A great must see film.