The Dhamma Brothers
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As co-directed by Anne Marie Stein, Andrew Kukura, and Massachusetts-based psychologist-cum-anthropologist Jenny Phillips, the documentary The Dhamma Brothers relays one of the most astounding recent tales of social evolution in contemporary America. The events in question began circa 1999, with several lifetime convicts incarcerated in Alabama's Donaldson Correctional Facility who commenced regular Buddhist meditation sessions in that institution. Deeply intrigued by this unusual sociological development, Phillips traveled to the penitentiary in the fall of 1999 to interview the men, and… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"An example of advocacy filmmaking at its most inspired."
‑ Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
"A sort of cross between The Shawshank Redemption and an episode of MSNBC's Lockup, the intriguing documentary The Dhamma Brothers makes a cogent case for prisoner rehabilitation over, as one inmate here bluntly puts it, being 'warehoused till you die'."
‑ Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
"The thoughtfulness and humanity of these inmates is a potent reminder that there's almost no such thing as a lost cause."
‑ Marc Mohan, Oregonian
"Beyond the visual novelty of murderers and rapist sitting in silent practice, The Dhamma Brothers seems to be interested in surprisingly little."
‑ Jurgen Fauth,
"It's a truly inspirational piece of documentary filmmaking bolstered by a fine soundtrack featuring the music of Low, New Order and Sigur Ros."
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A sincere but unevenly made documentary about Buddhism on death row."
‑ Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"There's one image you're likely to take away from this mind-boggling documentary. It's of rows and rows of men dressed completely in white and seated cross-legged on royal blue mats."
‑ Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle
"Though compelling as far as it goes, a little more skepticism and drama would have made for a more engaging film and enhanced its message."
‑ Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News
"If nothing else, it might change stereotypical perceptions about convicts and prison life."
‑ Eric Monder, Film Journal International
"Not polished enough to spread, or strike a nerve, within the wider moviegoing community."
‑ Mark Keizer, Boxoffice Magazine
"Most of these men will never know freedom beyond prison walls, but they have learned liberation from within."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"The Dhamma Brothers offers a constructive alternative to the hopelessness of human warehousing."
‑ Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
"The film does a poor job of explaining the discipline or how it works, and naively takes the convicts' testimonials at face value."
‑ Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"(W)hat many will remember about this otherwise informative film is the way in which we get to know these men."
‑ Bill Gibron, PopMatters
"A remarkable documentary about inmates at an Alabama prison who do a 10-day silent meditation retreat which opens them to the experience of inner peace and compassion."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
More reviews for The Dhamma Brothers on Rotten Tomatoes