Films & Schedules

  • Unmistaken Child

  • Nati Baratz

English, Tibetan, Hindi, Nepali
102 minutes

Production Company:
Samsara Films/Alma Films
Ilil Alexander, Arik Bernstein, Nati Baratz
Written By:
Nati Baratz
Yaron Orbach
Ron Goldman
Alex Claude
Cyril Morin

International Sales Agent:
Fortissimo Films

Monday September 0806:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1105:45PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1105:45PM AMC 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1212:45PM VARSITY 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Nati Baratz's outstanding new documentary chronicles a former disciple's search for his reincarnated Tibetan master. Visually stunning, emotionally gripping and shot over the course of four years, Unmistaken Child follows a sacred quest through the eyes of a remarkable attendant.

After twenty-six years of isolated meditation in a mountain cave, Lama Konchog became one of the greatest Tibetan masters of our time. When he passed away in 2001 at age eighty-four, the Dalai Lama instructed his shy, devoted disciple Tenzin Zopa to search for his master's reincarnation. This “unmistaken child” must be found within four years, before it becomes too difficult to remove him from his parents' care.

Tenzin entered the service of Lama Konchog at age seven, at his own request, and was with his master continuously for twenty-one years. The loss of his teacher leaves Tenzin bereft and utterly lonely. He is further unsettled by the unexpected responsibility of carrying out the highly secretive search for his spiritual father, who is now expected to be embodied in a little boy, and may be anywhere in the world.

His search crosses countries, passing through starkly beautiful mountains and small villages that appear to have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Assisted by astrology, signs from dreams and the whispers of villagers, Tenzin travels by helicopter, mule and foot. When he comes upon an apparent contender, the documentary accompanies Tenzin and his young charge through the mysterious procedures that may confirm the reincarnation. We have seen similar tests before in films like Martin Scorsese's Kundun; to witness the real thing is even more magical.

While Unmistaken Child brings to light a rarely seen aspect of the Buddhist faith, the true revelation is Tenzin's journey as a man. We come to know him as modest and shy, but with a delightfully impish sense of humour. He appears to be of another time and place, yet lives profoundly in the present. Alone on his quest, he is only able to share his thoughts and feelings with filmmaker Baratz. Tenzin's simple honesty and unselfconsciousness make the viewer a privileged partner in his passage to the next phase of life.

Jane Schoettle

Nati Baratz was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and graduated in film from Tel Aviv University. He directed the short documentaries Tel Aviv-Kyrgyzstan (01) and Noches (04). Unmistaken Child (08) is his first feature-length documentary.

Cadillac People's Choice Award