The 3 Day Nun

AUGUST 2, 2021
USA | 7 minutes | 2020

Documentary short film directed by Lava Buckley

The 3 Day Nun

The director, Lava Buckley, chronicles her journey as a novice nun for 3 days at Wat Phaputthothiyan in Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand with her mother and auntie. Lava’s family wanted her to follow the tradition of their family being a nun (or monk) in a forest temple in Thailand. Lava was on a healing journey but ended up with a life changing experience being among their Thai tradition of a giving community.


CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to document this very personal healing experience?
Lava Buckley:
When I initially wanted to go to the temple, I didn’t have plans to film my time at the temple for a documentary. However, when my auntie and mom were talking to the abbot, they all wanted me to document my experience to make a film. Having that kind of support really helped ignite the story.

CAF: What was shooting in Thailand like? What were some challenges that you faced during production?
It was quite the honor to be given permission to film my experience at the temple. My mom, my auntie, the monks and nuns were super supportive for me to film as much as I wanted. I felt very lucky to be surrounded by so much encouragement while filming in Thailand in the temple community. The main challenge while filming in Thailand: language barrier. I can speak some Thai, but not to have deep conversations (I can talk about food and cats all day long!). There was so much I was not able to understand when my mom was talking to abbott. Every evening the abbott would give us a dharma talk that I so wish I could have understood more. My mom did her best to translate but that can be challenging with a lot of information.

CAF: What do you hope people can take away and learn from your journey in The 3 Day Nun?
My hope is for others to find a spiritual path that speaks to their soul. Spirituality is a big part of who I am since I come from a long line of monks and nuns, I don’t think spirituality needs a label either! It’s what heals your soul. Which looks different to everyone. But with the hustle of life, sometimes we forget to nurture our spirits. And I am a big fan of connecting to your heritage. For me, going to Thailand always feels like I am home. When I am in ceremonies and doing other customs, I get overwhelmed of feeling like I belong. I feel very honored to be connected to my Isaan Thai heritage.

CAF: Are you working on any new projects?
Currently I’m in post production for a feature documentary about my journey to learn to walk again; in prep for a documentary about honoring and celebrating Traditional Clothing; and writing a dramedy narrative script about an Asian American Daughter and her Immigrant Asian Mom. Also, I document my mom’s pecan farm and epic adventures in a camper van with my partner.

The 3 Day Nun is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.


Director, Writer: Lava Buckley

More from Lava Buckley: Charlie

Follow and Support the Filmmaker
@lifewithlava | director’s website