‘monk with a camera’ to open at lincoln center

The film chronicles Diana Vreeland's grandson Nicholas’s journey from party boy to Buddhist monk.

by Clarke Rudick
21 November 2014, 5:30pm

Image courtesy Kino Lorber, Inc

Opening tonight at Lincoln Center, Monk with a Camera documents the remarkable story of Nicholas Vreeland: grandson of iconic editor Diana Vreeland, lauded photographer, and (for almost 30 years) a monk studying Buddhist teachings at a Tibetan monastery.

Vreeland grew up jet-setting between Germany, Paris, and New York, attending Rolling Stones concerts with his grandmother, and studying photography under legendary lensmen Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. Although Nicholas can speak at length about the finer points of portraiture, when it comes to his transition from blue-blooded party boy to devout monk and close friend of the Dalai Lama, his observations are much more spiritual: "I don't think you really make any radical shifts in your life if you don't have the predisposition to do so, which must come from past life training."

Although Vreeland initially saw the idea of a documentary as conflicting with his practice as a monk, his Buddhist teacher convinced him otherwise. "When I told my teacher…he said, 'You should do it, it would be good for the introduction of Buddhism into culture.'"

That said, Vreeland resists the notion that he's trying to impart wisdom or directly communicate Buddhist teachings to the movie's audience: "There's a Muslim saying: 'The unwise man tries to change others, the medium-wise man tries to change his environment, the wise man tries to change himself.' I think that is very true."

Monk With a Camera is directed and produced by filmmakers Guido Santi and Tina Mascara. The film will be screening at the Elinor Bunin Theater in New York City November 21-27 and the Laemmle's Royal Theater in Los Angeles December 12-18


Text Clarke Rudick
Image courtesy Kino Lorber, Inc

Diana Vreeland