Carving the Divine delves into the world of Busshi—a community of Japanese sculptors who create intricate wooden replicas of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.Theirs is a practice of sculpture that has been handed down master to student for almost 1,400 years.

Busshi Master Koun Seki has determined to pass his craft down to future generations and takes on young apprentices who want to learn this art. For many of the apprentices the Busshi’s life is less glamorous and more severe than they ever imagined. To the masters, the training methods are as old as the art and go deep into craftsmanship always demanding perfection.

Through the film, Master Koun Seki takes a commission to carve a statue of Juichimen Kannon Bosastu for the Tenmyoji Temple. It’s a job full of fine details and intricate work and his apprentices are expected to do their part to create a piece of the highest standard worthy of their guild. Every minuscule flaw in the creation of the work is detected and with a reprimand corrected no questions asked. At last, the statue is completed and a celebration is held in recognition for all who participated in its creation.

Carving the Divine gives an intimate look into a world that otherwise remains hidden. By Yujiro Seki, Japan, 2023, 54,' 58,' 97.'   Festivals