Directed by Jennifer Fox
Premieres June 21, 2012 on PBS
While the conflict between a father’s expectations and his
son’s desires is a story as old as the hills, Jennifer Fox has managed to
capture a unique twist on that experience with her documentary film My Reincarnation, which kicks off the 25th
season of POV on PBS.
Like most ambitious children, Italian-born Yeshi Silvano Namkhai
has plans for his life. He likes playing music and taking photographs. He has a
knack for computers. He wants to be a father.
But Yeshi’s father, exiled Tibetan Buddhist Master Namkhai
Norbu Rinpoche, believes that Yeshi is the reincarnation of his great-uncle, Khyentse
Rinpoche Chökyi Wangchug– a revered Tibetan Buddhist Master who died in a
For Namkhai Norbu, the path is clear: maintain the ancient
spiritual and cultural traditions of Tibet through service to the
Tibetan Buddhist community. But Italian-born Yeshi views the responsibility as
an unwanted burden even though he acknowledges having the special dreams
associated with being reincarnated. “I’m not afraid of dying, but I’m afraid of
living,” Yeshi says as he struggles to reconcile his desire to be a “normal” Westerner with his father’s hope that he will embrace his destiny.
Fox’s film is compelling because it isn’t just a snapshot.
Filmed over 20 years, we’re introduced to Yeshi as a defiant
18-year-old intent on pursuing the life he wants, and we follow him through
adulthood as he evolves into the man he’s become. In that same time frame, we
also see the seeds for Yeshi’s strained relationship with his father, and how
both men work to better know and understand each other. Despite its unique
circumstances, My Reincarnation is
remarkably accessible for anyone who has tried to balance their own desires with
the expectations of a parent.