Doc showing at Wheeler was a 20-year journey | AspenTimes.com
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Doc showing at Wheeler was a 20-year journey

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Jennifer Fox began filming a documentary centered around Tibetan Buddhist teacher Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche in 1988, and finished filming in the late ’00s. Of course, a lot is bound to happen over 20 years, but Fox’s patience paid off big: “My Reincarnation” captures the thorough transformation of a person.When Fox – whose earlier film, “Beirut: The Last Home Movie,” was about a family that remained in its ancient ancestral home through the Lebanese civil war – began the project, Yeshi Namkhai, Namkhai Norbu’s son, wanted little to do with his father’s mission. Despite having been declared, at birth, as the reincarnation of a renowned Buddhist master, Yeshi, born and raised in Italy, had his eye on the modern Western world. He wanted to be a businessman. In his eyes, his father had been neglectful of his family, more devoted to his students. Instead of passing along his spiritual traditions to his son, Namkhai Norbu seems to have handed down his grouchiness; Yeshi is a sullen, heavy, anxious figure.Fox (whose brother Michael is the owner of the Aspen Club) says that, early on, she suggested that Yeshi accept his reincarnation and become a teacher. Yeshi said there was no chance, and that is what the viewer comes to believe watching “My Reincarnation.” Yeshi struggles as a young man, but he is not struggling with whether to follow his father’s path. That door seems shut.But Yeshi does change, and it is a compelling transformation. He does not simply change his direction, but his entire self, becoming more confident and open, growing into what begins to look like his destiny. At the same time, we also are given an enormously intimate look at Namkhai Rinpoche and his dedication to preserving the ways of Tibetan Buddhism.On its most universal level, “My Reincarnation” is the story of both Yeshi and Namkhai – a father-and-son portrait about independence, family harmony, expectations and dreams.stewart@aspentimes.com


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