This is the 3rd is a series of films by Anika Tokarchuk about the reincarnate lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, made in the early 2000s, when he was making his first feature film, The Cup. The other two I have already featured on this site: Life as Cinema, the Making of the Cup and You are Dreaming Me.
This one is slightly different, as it is about a film that Rinpoche would like to make, but still hasn’t settled on: A Life of the Buddha. Rinpoche has a number of different ideas how to make the film, but here we see one of them.
First some background: In his previous incarnation the present Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was known as Chokyi Lodro Rinpoche. One of his students was Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk, who during the 1950s became a very well-known teacher in Tibet.
At the time of the Chinese communist takeover of Tibet he was imprisoned and spent over 20 years in terrible conditions in Chinese jails, sometimes close to starvation, and facing other privations, before being finally released and making his escape to India.
By that time his teacher had already reincarnated, and when they met Rinpoche asked the Khenpo to head his new studies monastery, which he agreed to. The success of their educational work is almost legendary, and they have taught 1000s of students.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s idea for a film about the Buddha is to parallel Khenpo’s life with that of the Buddha, and in this film, with the help of a little girl, Justine Yang, who retells the Buddha’s life story, we get an idea of how the film, if it is ever made, might play out.
Meanwhile we also hear about Khenpo’s amazing story of life in the Chinese prisons, and escape to India, on the one hand; and Rinpoche’s ideas about movies and life on the other.
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