Carving the Divine - Film Screening at Dalkeith Palace
A feature documentary by award-winning director Seki Yūjirō, Carving the Divine supports the Art & Ornament exhibition at Dalkeith Palace, Edinburgh. This screening is co-organised by Japan House London and the Master Carvers Association.
About the film
Carving the Divine offers a rare and intimate look into the life and artistic process of modern-day busshi – practitioners of a 1400 year lineage of Buddhist woodcarving. The story begins as Master Seki Kōun, the former apprentice of renowned busshi Saitō Kōrin, interviews a candidate applying to be his new apprentice. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the apprenticeship and the life of the busshi is far less glamorous, and much more austere than the audience and indeed the candidate might have imagined.
The film grants the viewer unprecedented access to the little-known rites of Shingon (True Word) Buddhism and, against the backdrop of the devastation of the Tōhoku tsunami, we’re given profound insight into the nature of human perseverance through suffering.
Carving the Divine was the official selection for 29 film festivals across 22 countries, and has won awards at 12 festivals worldwide, including the Best Director Award of a Foreign Language Documentary at the Milan International Filmmaker Festival. It also premiered at the 2021 Raindance Film Festival in London.
About Seki Yūjirō
Born and raised in Japan, Seki Yūjirō discovered his passion for film-making when he was in high school. Through making his first feature film, Sokonashi Deka (The Enigmatic Detective), he became enamoured with the imaginative possibilities of cinema and vowed to master the art through study in the United States. Despite the challenges of starting a new life in a different country, Seki earned a BA in Film from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a short film, Sashimi Taco, for his senior honours thesis. Following his graduation, Seki moved to Los Angeles to work as director of the video department for Intermarket Design, and as a film instructor at Montecito Fine Arts College of Design. After attaining permanent U.S. residency, Seki began studying full time in the Cinematography program at UCLA Extension. Upon graduating, he made his feature documentary project, Carving the Divine: Buddhist Sculptors of Japan.