Ever wonder how reincarnations of deceased Buddhist masters are found and recognized? Docu “Unmistaken Child” chronicles Nepalese monk Tenzin Zopa’s lengthy search for the new embodiment of Geshe Lama Konchog, a revered rinpoche who died in 2001. Observing rather than explaining ancient traditions, Israeli helmer Nati Baratz’s first feature-length project inspires as many questions as it answers, but his fascinating insider’s perspective might find niche theatrical play before its broadcast dates.
After signs at “Geshe-La’s” cremation pyre indicate an imminent reincarnation, senior lamas in India consult Taiwanese astrologers and learn there’s a high probability that the baby’s father’s name starts with an A and that he will come from a place beginning with TS. Those clues take 28-year-old Zopa to a long stint in Nepal’s spectacular Tsum Valley, where he inspects an array of runny-nosed tots to see if they recognize his master’s rosary. While the pic is ostensibly about the identification and education of a remarkable child, it also portrays hardworking Zopa’s evolution from shy disciple to resourceful teacher. Leading a modest tech package, low-tech DV lensing captures the beauty in wild nature and elaborate Buddhist rites and rituals.