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Samsara (U)

Samsara (U)

★★★★✭ Spanish director Lois Patiño pushes cinematic boundaries - including asking viewers to close their eyes for 15 minutes - with this extraordinary docu-drama made using non professional actors in a Buddhist temple in Laos and a seaweed farm in Zanzibar. ~ ManchesterTheatres


In the temples of Laos, teenage monks accompany a soul in transit from one body to another through the bardo. A luminous and sonorous journey leads to reincarnate on the beaches of Zanzibar, where groups of women work in seaweed farms.

Samsara is a story split in two: two continents, two communities, two belief systems, two sets of experiences and inner lives. Between them lies a sensory pathway, all light and sound. The viewer is only asked to close their eyes and travel with it. 

In Laos, every morning, a Buddhist teenager visits an elderly woman’s home to read her The Bardo Thödol, a guide for the journey between death and the next rebirth. On her last day, the young man whispers the book’s final passages in her ear, closes his eyes, and meditates alongside her, as she embarks on a transformative journey into what lies beyond. 

The story moves to Tanzania, where a young girl named Juwairiya wakes up to the news that a baby goat has been born. She names it Neema, the Arabic word for blessing. 

Juwairiya lives with her family in Uroa, a village on the East coast of Zanzibar. Local women farm seaweed and make soap. The men catch fish. “Life is change”, Juwairiya’s grandmother explains. There is regeneration in the air. 


★★★★ If you’re looking for a meditative experience without all the bending and stretching of a yoga class, Samsara is just the immersive ticket. ~ Time Out.

★★★★★ Lois Patiño travels from Laos to Zanzibar via the bardo in this unique and jaw-dropping tale of bodily transcendence. A quiet, radical masterwork, surely destined for high rank in many year-end top tens. ~ Little White Lies.

★★★★ Patiño’s film is a delicate, exotic contrivance, a docu-realist diptych spectacle using nonprofessional actors, about the Buddhist concept of “Samsara”, the cycle of birth, death and life, and the transmigration of souls. It is mysterious and quietist, but flavoured with something whimsical and even playful. ~ The Guardian.

★★★★ A truly extraordinary film (even if it drives you mad). Not many films ask the audience to close their eyes for 20 minutes of its run time. ~ The Irish Times.

★★★★ An entrancingly strange mind trip. Spanish director Lois Patiño’s movie swings between reportage and intense immersion. ~ Financial Times.


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