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Catalogue Number:  NFB548485
Producer:  National Film Board Of Canada
Producers:  Kent Martin
Directors:  Gesar Mukpo
Producing Agencies:  National Film Board of Canada (Montreal)
Subject:  Documentary, Religious Studies
Language:  English
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2008
Running Time:  115:34
Closed Captions:  Yes

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Gesar Mukpo was three when he became one of the first people born in the West to be recognized as a tulku – the present-day reincarnation of a Buddhist master. For his entire life, he's been trying to figure out what that really means. 

Starting in the mid-1970s, Tibetan teachers – including Gesar's father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche – began recognizing Western children as tulkus. Suddenly, a system that had ensured stable spiritual power and authority in Tibetan society for 800 years was transplanted into a completely different culture. 

In this intensely personal documentary, Gesar sets out to meet other tulkus to find out how they reconcile modern and ancient, East and West.  Journeying through Canada, the United States, India and Nepal, he encounters four other tulkus who struggle with the meaning of this profound dilemma. 

What does it mean to carry on this ancient tradition designed for an old world when you’re living in a completely new one? How will Gesar and other Western tulkus fulfill their destiny? 

Tulku was produced as part of the Reel Diversity Competition for emerging filmmakers of colour.  Reel Diversity is a National Film Board of Canada initiative in partnership with CBC Newsworld.

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