In northern India’s sparsely populated and mountainous Ladakh region, an impoverished young boy is discovered to be the reincarnation of an esteemed, high-ranking Tibetan monk. Born displaced from his original monastery in Tibet, the boy is denied his rightful place. Amid growing doubts and mounting expectations in the community, the boy and his elderly godfather embark on a gruelling, improbable trek across India to return the young monk-to-be to his rightful monastery before it becomes too late.
Filmed over eight years, we witness an incredibly intimate bond of friendship between the future religious leader and his godfather, whose devotion and selflessness in care for the boy is truly touching. The film has a stirring and awe-inspiring air of serenity that befits its subject. Striking drone shots use the powerful magnitude of the natural landscape, particularly in the final touching moments in the snowy mountains. An evocative exploration of culture, tradition and identity, BECOMING WHO I WAS artfully captures the universal truths of unconditional love, family bonds and sacrifice.
As part of HIFF's Film For Thought Program in partnership with the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities, the first screening of this film will be followed by a special extended Q&A discussion led by Mara Miller, independent humanities scholar of Asian and comparative philosophy and art history, and author of book on Zen gardens and culture, The Garden As an Art.