This epic documentary, 20 years in the making, traces the relationship between Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and his Italian-born son. Director Jennifer Fox (Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman) was working as Rinpoche’s secretary when she first met his son in 1989. Eighteen-year-old Yeshi had conflicting feelings about a father whom he saw once a year for three or four days, but whom other people constantly sought out for guidance and counsel.
“They see him as a solution”, he surmises, “but they forget that he is human.” He was recognized at birth as the reincarnation of Rinpoche’s uncle and master, and now he feels a great responsibility resting upon his shoulders. His growth from truculent resistance to a measured accommodation of his heritage is watched over by a father fulfilling his own ancestral destiny.
With her signature intimate entry to both family and icons including the Dalai Lama, Fox expertly distills a decades-long drama into a universal story about love, transformation, and destiny. In a world where indigenous cultures are lost and homogenized every day, My Reincarnation is a rare positive story of cultural transplantation, adaptation and renewal. It is a dramatic tale which is rewarding on many levels: as a study of exile; of Eastern spirituality in the contemporary West; as a classic father/son struggle; and not least as a contemplation of mortality, inheritance and spiritual continuance.
Directed by Jennifer Fox, U.S.A., 2010, 82 mins.