Sara Vilkomerson’s Third Stringer: Buddha Me Up

After all the scary future robots and Trekkies and Ben Stiller at the museum, you’d be forgiven if you were looking for a meditative break of some sort. On June 3, the Film Forum premieres Unmistaken Child, a documentary chronicling the search for a reincarnated Tibetan master. We’ll be honest: We know nothing about Tibetan Buddhism (beyond its occasional outbreak on the terrible N.Y.C. dating scene), nor its precepts of reincarnation, so this film was a rather fascinating look at a beautiful culture. At the center of the story is Tenzin Zopa, who had been a devoted disciple of one Lama Konchog since the age of 7. After Lama Konchog died in 2001, Tenzin Zopa begins a four-year-long, worldwide search for the older man’s reincarnation in a child. Tenzin Zopa is a great documentary subject, handsome and sweet and charming. We follow him into villages and eventual dealings with a sweet little boy who, reincarnated or not, is not above throwing a massive tantrum over getting his head shaved or behaving in front of the Dalai Lama. Israeli filmmaker Nati Baratz wisely doesn’t try to explain every ritual, but keeps himself and his camera in the role of observer. The pacing is on the slow side but the imagery is beyond stunning.