YANGSI follows the life story of Yangsi Khyentse Rinpoche, the reincarnation of a highly revered Tibetan Lama from his early childhood to the time he reaches his maturity. Filmmaker Mark Elliott began filming in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1997 when the young child was enthroned. He continued filming in the kingdom of Bhutan in 2000, and returned to the Himalayan region five more times to capture distinct phases of the incarnation’s development, from the age of four to the age of seventeen when he embarked on a “coming-of-age” world tour.
YANGSI was financed privately up to the time when Mark was invited by Babeth Vanloo to partner with the Dutch Buddhist Television Channel to collaborate in order to finish the film. Babeth came on board as a co-producer and joined Mark for much of the filming of a tour through Europe and North America that features prominently in the later section of the film, marking the culmination of the Yangsi’s primary training.
While the structure of the film was quite clear, following the Yangsi’s upbringing and emergence into the world, there remained the question of how to tell the story narratively. For this purpose Mark and Tatjana Meyerowitz returned to Bhutan in 2011 to conduct hours of interviews with the Yangsi. These interviews formed a first person, autobiographical narrative for the film.
YANGSI contains interviews with numerous important figures in the world of Tibetan Buddhism, including, HH Dalai Lama, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, and author, Matthieu Ricard.