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Kauaʻi filmmaker sets off to document Bhutan's spiritual leaders

Trongsa Choekhor Rabtentse Dzong.jpeg
Courtesy John Wehrheim
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Bhutan's largest monastery-fortress Trongsa Choekhor Rabtentse Dzong, 2004.

A Kauaʻi man is about to embark on a historic mission to help a tiny nation across the globe.

Filmmaker and author John Wehrheim will spend three years in the Buddhist nation of Bhutan, interviewing its master monks and other spiritual leaders.

Wehrheim said the film will be more than just an educational documentary.

"What the monastery, what the monks want actually more than the film and the book, they want the transcripts from everything. And they want the original recordings from everything because this will be the final word on the living masters of this era, and the Drukpa Kagyu in Bhutan, the Buddhist sect there, has been very oral, up until now," he told The Conversation.

"I mean there's a lot of written stuff, but nothing like this. So it's a book of film, but for them, it's an archive," Wehrheim added.

Wehrheim said he's excited about the documentary because it will also include interviews with Bhutan’s yoginis, or nuns.

He said it’s one of the first opportunities for the country’s female spiritual leaders to be documented alongside their male counterparts.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Oct. 13, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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