...Halpern's premise is that as exiled Tibetan spiritual leaders have sought
material refuge in the West, overstressed Americans and Europeans have found refuge in the faith and philosophy they brought with them. In the process, an intriguing, unfinished new synthesis of East and West has been created.
~ Andrew O'Hehir -


Westerns Drawn to Eastern Thought in "Refuge"
By Laura Kern
Published: May 12, 2006

John Halpern's "Refuge" is a 57-minute look at how citizens of the Western world are becoming increasingly drawn to Eastern thought and the appeal of Tibetan Buddhism.

In our celebrity-driven society, filmmakers are partly responsible for this rapid growth in awareness, by creating serious works influenced by Buddhist tenets or by publicly recognizing its potential benefits.

Martin Scorsese, the screenwriter Melissa Mathison and other artistic types voice their thoughts in "Refuge".

...Buddhist nuns and the Dalai Lama is much more commanding, as they reveal that Easterners, too, have found sanctuary in the other side, traveling more frequently to the West to share their views and to open meditation centers.


NY TIMES - All Movie Guide
By Jason Buchanan

Talking With the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses a variety of rarely discussed topics related to the current state of Buddhism in a live discussion held in the Buddhist high priest's living room in Dharamsala, India.


His Holiness explains the faith
By Joshua Land

"Talking with the Dalai Lama", devotes its entire length to a wide-ranging Q&A with Tibetan Buddhism's leader. Radiating spiritual discipline and a profound sense of laughter in both films, His Holiness is surely his faith's best advertisement. (Opens Fri; Quad.)


am NY

Three Stars * * *
Refuge/Talking With The Dalai Lama

By Jay Carr review

...In a world beset by confusion and chaos, they have valuable perspectives to offer, especially when the Dalai Lama is doing the talking.

His message of compassion and the need for humanity to tame its unruly side resonates powerfully. So does his determination to demystify himself.

...His story was depicted in the film "Kundun," written by one American Buddhist, Melissa Matheson, and directed by another, Martin Scorsese.

They and Oliver Stone add a measure of sincerity to the story of Buddhism's appeal to Westerners. Without belaboring the point, "Refuge" makes clear that while the West offered refuge to the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans in exile, they returned the gesture by offering Westerners a spiritual haven.



By Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

...By placing interviews with such famous filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Oliver Stone alongside interviews with such Buddhist figures as Tibetan meditation master Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Shambhala leader Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, English Tibetan Buddhist nun Ani Tenzin Palmo, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Halpern underscores the state of Buddhism in the Western world, and looks in on those who have journeyed to the West to see how far they have come in both their spiritual and physical travels.


Canadian Press
Documentary explores role of Tibetan Buddhism in western spiritual life

TORONTO (CP) - Some 30 minutes into John Halpern's documentary film Refuge, one can't help but feel drawn toward Tibetan Buddhism amid the numerous images of westerners embracing the faith in spiritually adrift North America.

That is, until the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of the ancient eastern practice, provides a frank piece of advice for Christians, Jews and Muslims flirting with Buddhism.

Stick with your own beliefs.


By Andrew O'Hehir

Somehow, "Refuge" remains a calm and reassuring picture, but never an incurious one. He's not afraid to explore the sexual and financial scandals that have affected some Buddhist ventures in the West, or the tendency of some overly enthusiastic Western practitioners to focus on the ritual elements of Buddhist worship and to breed an isolated, cult-like atmosphere.

This is a charming, informative and sometimes quietly humorous exploration of an influential movement often rendered in clichés by its adherents and enemies alike.