Voted one of the 10 most popular Canadian films at the Vancouver International Film Festival!
Winner of the Silver Award for Best Documentary Feature, Worldfest Houston, 2004!
First Prize Winner: Best Foreign Film, Rhode Island International Film Festival 2004!
Words Of My Perfect Teacher
Review by Lee Anne Gillan
HFX/The Daily News
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
We generally expect our spiritual leaders to be serious and all-knowing. We don’t expect them to be witty, mischievous and overly concerned with soccer results.
In Lesley Ann Patten’s warm and funny story of her quest to be the perfect student, she follows (and sometimes chases) Buddhist teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche around the world, interviewing him, his followers, and other Buddhists (best of all is a hilarious interlude with Steven Seagal).
This enlightening game of follow-the-leader is beautifully shot, and beautifully pieced together. Voice-over narration in a personal documentary can sometimes feel self-indulgent, but in Patten’s dry tones you can hear confusion, amusement, and longing as she tries to understand both her teacher and herself.
There’s also a fair bit of irritation, as her elusive subject keeps her waiting for hours or months -- Words Of My Perfect Teacher could be subtitled Rinpoche and Me - or answers questions with questions.
Rinpoche comes off as both a wise grandmother and annoying little brother, sometimes in the same sentence.
His refusal to be pinned down or locked in is the space where learning takes place. He calls a teacher a mirror, and an assasin, hired to completely dismantle you.
Words Of My Perfect Teacher doesn’t preach. It doesn’t have to. Slowly, stealthily, like Rinpoche’s teaching itself, the film draws you into questioning what you believe about the world and your place in it.
Reprinted with permission.
“Thoughtful, surprisingly fast-moving doc...provides a memorably quirky look at Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.” VARIETY
“For colourful and dynamic religious figures, you could hardly do better...” SCOTT LINGLEY, SEE MAGAZINE, EDMONTON
“It’s wonderful! It’s smart and it’s funny and it’s enlightening!”
ROBIN JOHNSTONE, COMMISSIONING EDITOR, CTV, CANADA
“Patten’s film could be dry and reverent, but instead it’s lively and funny, and you have to love a filmmaker who gets Bernardo Bertolucci and Steven Seagal in the same movie.”
“Words is both enchanting and educational.”
RACHEL GOLDSWORTHY, MONDAY MAGAZINE
“A film that’s funny, brave, illuminating, adventurous, and beautifully photographed.” CHRONICLE-HERALD
“Spiced with unexpected humor and a vigorous humanism, Words Of My Perfect Teacher brings the spark of illumination to the darkness of a world convulsed with the uncertainty and violence of the last two years. "Words Of My Perfect Teacher is one of those rare documentaries-like Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine or the recent spelling-bee film Spellbound--that deserves to be seen on the big screen."” Ron Foley MacDonald ATLANTIC FILM FESTIVAL
“More than just a profile of an intriguing cultural figure, Words of My Perfect Teacher is an honest, witty, autobiographical exploration of the human drive to be inspired. Insightful, always entertaining.”
VANCOUVER FILM FESTIVAL