Growing up in the slums of Phnom Penh, Leng Heng has learned about the reality of his world, which is doused in poverty and constant fear of forced relocation. During the day, he plays with his rascal friends and helps his aging grandmother. At night, he dreams of his past life.
After being awoken by a memory from his past-life, which also reveals the location of treasure, Leng decides to recruit friends to help him find the fortune and change their lives. Using “nanobugs” as their digital map, a device used to see dreams and experience an augmented reality, Leng invites a young, street-smart orphan from his neighborhood to help their search, promising the lion’s share of the treasure to her. But what begins as a playful treasure hunt soon leads to a discovery that could challenge the idea of digital enlightenment or force Leng into total loss of identity.
KARMALINK is a buddhist science-fiction film set in the near-future that centers around the exploration of past lives with a boy, Leng Heng, at the center of it all. With director Jake Wachtel at the helm, viewers are taken on a visually-stunning expedition alongside Leng, exploring the techno-philosophic world of rebirth.
This film is presented as part of the Film For Thought program in partnership with the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. As a part of this program, HIFF will be presenting a LIVE virtual discussion during the Festival with director Jake Wachtel, and a companion essay written by a local scholar will be available to read online. Stay tuned to the HIFF TALKS page for details.