Yangsi — Bhutan (2012)
Heavy is the head that wears the crown — especially when you are a little boy. This 82-minute documentary film from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan follows the life of Ugyen Tenzin Jigme Lhundrup, who at the age of four was recognized as the rebirth, reincarnation or "yangsi" of a pre-eminent Tibetan Buddhist master. It begins with his enthronement before ten thousand people. After living with his parents for a few years, he entered a monastery to begin the long process of living into his calling: the religious knowledge, practices, and rituals; a nine-year course of philosophical study; English lessons; and advanced meditative practices. In addition to the strict training, he lives at least the semblance of a normal boyhood — watching cartoons, building with lego blocks, and playing basketball with his buddies. Oh, you must also meet Bhutan's queen mother. By age eighteen, he goes on a world tour. This film will feel very foreign to westerners, but it's for that reason very interesting. The scenery, the music, and the religious rituals of Bhutan Buddhism make it worth watching, even though there's much we don't understand. "Sometimes it's difficult to be a perfect person in this world," says the yangsi. In an interesting twist, the film is narrated in English by the yangsi himself. I watched this film on Netflix Streaming.