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'Unmistaken Child'
Directed by Nati Baratz (2008)
Howard Schumann (howard16)     Print Article 
Published 2009-11-09 17:54 (KST)   
Howard Schumann rates "Unmistaken Child" an A.  <Editor's Note>
In a year when films that glorify sadistic revenge fantasies and psychopathic violence against women are celebrated, Israeli director Nati Baratz's documentary Unmistaken Child is a tribute to a director and a young Buddhist monk who are willing to share with the world a journey of love.

The film concerns twenty-eight year old Tenzin Zopa, a Buddhist monk who left his family at the age of seven to become a disciple of a Tibetan Buddhist master, who then takes on the responsibility of searching for his master's reincarnation when he dies at the age of 84 in 2001. Though Tenzin is devastated when he loses his teacher, Lama Konchog, and feels inadequate to the task ahead, he agrees to search for his master's reincarnation out of a sense of duty to pass on his master's wisdom to the world.

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After a senior monk with an astrological gift determines that the child was born in the Tsum Valley of Nepal, and that the boy's father's name begins with "A, Tenzin sets out on foot on a four-year journey to seek the "unmistaken child", not knowing if he will be successful. Accompanied by Baratz and his camera and with permission from the Lama Zopa Rinpoche, he visits villages in the same area in which he grew up, inquiring as to whether families with a child of age one to one and a half years lives in the village. He interviews children, parents, and grandparents, asking many questions and testing each child to try to find out if the young child is unusually attracted to the master's rosary beads.

When he travels to Chekampor Village which was his place of birth, he meets relatives including an aunt who tells him that there may be such a child in the next village whose father's name, is Ahpe. En route to meet this boy, Tenzin comes across Genshe-La's retreat where he first met his spiritual teacher at the age of seven. Saddened by the dilapidated condition of the retreat, Tenzin sheds tears but his spirits are buoyed by the sight of the child who waters the same apple tree daily that was planted many years ago by Konchong and clings to the rosary beads. In a moment that is pure magic, the little boy is brought to a monastery where he is able to identify personal items such as a hand bell and drum that were used by Kongchong.

The most intriguing part of the film, however, is the unfolding of the relationship between Tenzin Zopa culminating with their meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the only one who can determine whether or not the boy will be accepted as the reincarnation of Lama Konchong. This test is just preliminary however to the crucial meeting between the boy and his parents and it is a test that both Tenzin and the family face with bravery and good humor. Shot in the villages and countryside of Nepal, "Unmistaken Child" is a film of unexcelled beauty, both physical and spiritual that left me with a glow that lasted for many days.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Howard Schumann

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