UNMISTAKEN CHILD (THE BABY AND THE BUDDHA)
(director/writer: Nati Baratz; cinematographer: Yaron Orbach; editor: Ron Goldman; music: Cyril Morin; cast: Tenzin Zopa; Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Arik Bernstein/Ilil Alexander/Nati Baratz; Oscilloscope Laboratories; 2008-Israel-in English/Tibetan/Hindi/Nepali with English subtitles)
“Appealing, visually stunning and moving religious documentary that gives the outsider a rare eyewitness report on the four-year search for the rebirth of a Tibetan lama in Nepal.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Israeli director Nati Baratz directs this appealing, visually stunning and moving religious documentary that gives the outsider a rare eyewitness report on the four-year search for the rebirth of a Tibetan lama in Nepal. It was shot in the beautiful countryside of Nepal and shows the small villages and Buddhist monasteries that are draped by the huge mountains. Tenzin Zopa is the sincere and gentle 26-year-old disciple sent by his monastery to find the child, between the age of one and one and a half, who was his renown master Lama Konchong (who died at age 84 in 2001, and lived in a mountain retreat in the Tsum Valley). The challenge of locating the right child is an awesome task, that calls for the child recognizing certain possessions of the late lama that include his rosary, bell and hand drum.
Tenzin, who served the lama since he was 7, carries out his sacred duty with great diligence and takes the viewer on a religious search that doesn’t seem that scientific but amounts to making a big decision to get it right. The child chosen must be willingly given up by his parents and will be trained as a monk in the monastery and will grow up to work for all sentient beings. Once chosen Tenzin must get the approval of his monastery heads, who present the chosen one to the Dalai Lama. The so-called unmistaken child was born to a humble Tibetan family living in the remote Tsum Valley of Nepal, next to the border of Tibet, and bonds with the playful Tenzin calling him ‘Big Uncle.”
It’s the endearing spiritual tale of faith and hope in the knowledge of tradition, that takes those in the west into unfamiliar territory. It plays out as a fascinating and genuine procedural film, that exercises great humor, humility and sense of universal love in telling its mysterious story. Caring people of all faiths should be drawn to this very special film whether they believe in reincarnation or not (the filmmaker offers no opinion); it’s made with love and a sense of inspiration.
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2010 GRADE: A-