Israel, 2008, 102 minutes
Sun, May 3 / 3:15 / Kabuki / UNMI03K
Tue, May 5 / 6:45 / Kabuki / UNMI05K
Israeli filmmaker Nati Baratz’s visually captivating documentary follows Tenzin Zopa, a 28-year-old disciple of recently deceased Tibetan Master Geshe Lama Konchog. “Geshe La,” as he is affectionately called, leaves behind pearl relics upon his cremation that strongly suggest his impending reincarnation. Prompted by the Dalai Lama to search for his former master in child form, Zopa embarks on a quest throughout the stunning Tsum Valley of Nepal to find the spiritual patriarch, thought to now be a little boy no more than a year old. Shooting over a four-year period, Baratz accompanies Zopa on his trek from village to village, snooping for clues that may lead him to the young reincarnate. He searches out a few cold-ridden, muddy-faced children in hopes that the sought-for youngster may knowingly react to Geshe La’s rosary beads. The outlook appears bleak until Zopa encounters a cherub-faced boy with whom he immediately connects. Zopa’s decision to bring the child back with him to the monastery solidifies his ultimate transformation from humble servant to divine master in his own right. The boy, meanwhile, with his parents’ somewhat reluctant blessing, goes with Zopa to begin his journey (return?) to Tibetan masterhood. An intimate, emotionally enthralling and colorful depiction of the living Buddhist tradition, Baratz’s documentary leaves you curious to know more and just may even turn nonbelievers into the most faithful of followers.
In English, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali with English subtitles. Presented in association with the Mill Valley Film Festival.