Sister Chan Khong Film

One of the aspirations of Deer Park Monastery and the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism is to make an engaging and compelling documentary film about Sister Chan Khong, relevant for our times, that will take folks around the world on a spiritual journey of mindfulness.

About the Film


Zen Observations in Times of Divison

“I was born as a girl, and there started my biggest challenge…” – Sister Chan Khong

There are almost no films about Buddhist female spiritual leaders. We are making a modern, relevant and urgent film about one of the world’s great female spiritual leaders. It is a film about a hero bringing food to the poor and peace to the world. 

Bridging the gap between poor and rich, between north and south Vietnam, between exiles and nationalists, between parents and orphans. Her name means True Emptiness, meaning the connection of all things, and in a world today defined by separation, Sister Chan Khong shows us a life of true oneness.

In the here and the now

“The film will focus on Sister Chan Khong’s daily life in the present moment. As the teaching says, if we look deeply we can see both the past and the future in the present moment.

Also to understand the Sister Chan Khong of today better, we will provide some archival flashbacks, giving insights in her personal life story and her history with Thay and the Plum Village community.

The film will speak to a broad audience, including people outside of the worldwide community of practitioners”

– Wouter Verhoeven, Filmmaker

Poetical film

The intention is to make a poetical film, in line with the spirit of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong. The essence of their lives and teachings, expressed also in calligraphy, poetry and songs, is to wake people up to the many wonders of life, inside themselves and around them.

This film should do the same: to invite the audience to come back to the present moment, to come back to themselves and to the beauty of life. The film will be a layered, cinematic experience of natural sounds, images, voice over, songs and composed music, inviting the audience to come back to this (film) moment. When we are nourished by the beauty of life, we can be truly present. And only when we are truly present we can heal and transform, and touch true peace and freedom.

In our turbulent world of today, charged with division, discrimination and manipulation, in which many people feel lost, alienated and separated, the life of Sister Chan Khong, I believe, can be a refreshing example of love, harmony and deep connection. Transcending a dominant culture of individualism and competition her life story of service and selflessness is striking.” – Wouter Verhoeven, Filmmaker

“The film will be a spiritual journey. It can guide people on a spiritual path.” – Brother Phap Luu

Fundraising Initiatives

In spring 2024, Deer Park Monastery is beginning fundraising efforts to support the production and distribution of this film.

The first fundraising activity is the 2nd Annual Rhythm of the Earth Mindful Music Festival, taking place at Deer Park Monastery on May 25, 2024.

You may purchase a ticket to the festival and/or make a donation on the ticketing site here. If you are unable to join the festival but would still like to make a donation, you may do so by selecting one of the donation options on the ticketing site.

About Sister Chan Khong

Sister Chan Khong - Magnolia portrait

Sister Chan Khong is the first fully-ordained monastic disciple of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and the director of his humanitarian projects since the 1960’s.

Born in 1938 in Ben Tre in Southern Vietnam, Sister Chan Khong began social work in the city slums as a teenager. After meeting Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 1959, she helped him set up the School of Youth for Social Service, training thousands of young social workers to bring aid to remote war-devasted villages.

She organised the Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace Talks in 1969, and in the 1970’s assisted Thich Nhat Hanh on his world tours calling for peace, and was instrumental in directing emergency humanitarian efforts to rescue Vietnamese Boat People from the high seas, as well as leading sponsorship programs for over 14,000 orphans in Vietnam.

Since the 1980’s Sister Chan Khong has helped Thich Nhat Hanh establish Plum Village Monastery in south-west France, and is today the Elder nun of the International Plum Village Sangha.

With precious few Buddhist political, spiritual heroines to inspire us, Chan Khong stands among the most compassionate, persistent and brave. Her book has the pace and excitement of an adventure story and the depth of a spiritual inquiry.

– Tricycle Magazine

The deep mindfulness practices she has pioneered and developed (which she calls “social work of the heart”) have brought reconciliation and healing to couples, families, communities and workplaces worldwide.

Sister Chan Khong’s autobiography, Learning True Love, stands alongside the spiritual autobiographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as a remarkable story of one woman’s search for social and spiritual change.

Other books by Sister Chan Khong:
Beginning Anew: Four steps to restoring communication (2014)
Deep Relaxation: Coming home to your body (2013)

Read more about Sister Chan Khong here.