VIFF 2017: Becoming Who I Was takes a tender look at a case of reincarnation

(South Korea)

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      Whether or not you believe in metempsychosis, this tender, picturesque documentary about a boy convinced he is a Rinpoche, an honorific Tibetan term for a reincarnated monk, has multifaceted appeal.

      In the northern Indian region of Ladakh, Padma Angdu is convinced he was a lama in a former life in Kham, Tibet. He sees his former monastery in dreams, recreating it in drawings and models, and is taken under the wing of an elderly lama and traditional doctor. What becomes most apparent are the difficulties that Angdu faces: ostracization, difficulties in adapting to monastic life, separation from his family, painful rejections, and the challenge of reaching far-off Tibet, which the pair set off on foot for, despite warnings of a crackdown by Chinese forces. And although he's ostensibly an old soul, Angdu still has plenty of tantrums, tears, and lots of giggles. Panoramic cinematography of mountainous vistas and snowscapes and a sentimental soundtrack infuse Angdu’s story with an epic quality. Even if you remain skeptical about reincarnation, Becoming remains intriguing and moving.