Film & TV

"My Reincarnation" Follows a Teenager Told He's a Tibetan Yogi

My Reincarnation was in production for more than 20 years, beginning when acne-plagued teenager Yeshi Silvano Namkhai learned that he'd been dubbed the reincarnation of a famous Tibetan yogi. The judgment was passed down by his world-famous Tibetan spiritual-leader dad, Rinpoche Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and director Jennifer Fox wastes no time or footage placing the rebel-Euro-son-versus-iron-man-Asian-dad dynamic front and center. It's a juicy setup that begs for a thick Oprah novel, not get-in, get-out nonfiction. In fact, Fox's briskness leaves certain questions gaping open. As in, how cynical and derisive is she deliberately being of Rinpoche's teachings, since all we get are trite homilies and vague advice? Can you film Buddhist instruction without seeming skeptical? Are Yeshi's years of reticence regarding his appointed destiny an avoidance of "truth" or self-help baloney? Fox ends up clearly on Rinpoche's team, but her film suggests a deep wariness with Eastern mysticism and of the needy Westerners who lap it up. Which makes it, perhaps unintentionally, pointed and daring.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Atkinson is a regular film contributor at the Village Voice. His work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.