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  • Issue of
  • Sep 2-8, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 47

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Unmistaken Child

    Since the age of seven, Tibetan monk Tenzin Zopa has been the companion, servant and student of Geshe Lama Konchong. When his master dies, Tenzin must embark on the most important journey of his life, to seek out Konchong’s reincarnated form. First time documentary-maker Nati Baratz takes a no-frills, fly-on-the-wall approach to Tenzin’s quest, capturing the intriguing rituals and practices of Buddhist culture, while examining faith in a way that is as respectful as it is skeptical. The opening title cards, which inform us of Tenzin’s two decades of service and the death of his master, are followed by the statement: “Tenzin feels terribly alone.” It’s here that Baratz reveals his underlying thesis: Is Tenzin simply following the demands of his religion or, having devoted the majority of his life to one man, desperately seeking to get him back? Where Baratz’s doc missteps, however, is in its all-too-brief focus on the boy’s parents once he’s picked by the monks as the “unmistaken child.” It's a bit much to witness a crying little boy as he’s left with strangers, and to leave the impact of that decision unexamined.
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