Nowhere To Call Home - A Tibetan Widow Searches for a Better Life for Her Son

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Nowhere To Call Home

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This gritty and ultimately uplifting film gives an unprecedented view of the life of a rural Tibetan widow battling ethnic discrimination as she ekes out a living as a street vendor in China's capital. Filmed over three years, this intimate documentary also examines family life in a traditional Tibetan village, where age-old gender roles are being challenged by forces of modernization and contemporary concepts of social justice. In the article Inspiring Dialogue, Not Dissent, in China, The New York Times wrote: "The film breaks down the sometimes romantic Shangri-La view that Westerners have of Tibet... and offers a shocking portrait of the outright racism... Tibetans face in Chinese parts of the country."

Widowed young, protagonist Zanta stands up to her autocratic father-in-law, who wants to deny her son a school education and is teaching his grandson to steal. She brings her young child to Beijing where she overcomes discrimination to make her dream of an education come true, on the way making heart-wrenching sacrifices. Her encounters with U.S. public radio journalist and director Jocelyn Ford, who gets involved in the street vendor's plight of her child's schooling, raise questions about journalism and contemporary documentary practices.

Translated into 11 languages and recipient of numerous awards, this trail blazing personal film has had a surprising welcome in the People's Republic of China, where it has paved the way for Chinese and Tibetans to engage in groundbreaking discussions on ethnic tensions. The film also opens discussion on gender issues in the haloed Buddhist culture of Tibet, where the word for woman literally translates as "inferior birth." Probing the preeminent social issues of our times-- migration, globalization, gender, education equity, economic inequality, media literacy, the clash of religion and modernization-- NOWHERE TO CALL HOME shrinks the world by showing the social issues that China faces share a lot in common with those faced by other major economies.

NOWHERE TO CALL HOME premiered at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and has been screened in over 15 countries, including at Tibet film festivals and at China's Xinhua News Agency, the voice of the Communist Party, as well as at numerous high schools in China. It was selected as the opening documentary at the launch of both New York University Law Schools' Robert L. Bernstein's Institute for Human Rights as well as at China Agricultural University's new Center of Documentary studies. It was winner of one of the Japan Prize's prestigious awards for educational documentaries, and was a semi-finalist for the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival's prestigious Golden Kapok award.

Media Comments: "An American filmmaker has made a documentary on Tibet. Those two elements alone might seem grounds for China's Communist Party to ban it, but instead the film -- Nowhere to Call Home -- quietly has been making the rounds in China and winning praise from local audiences."-- National Public Radio: American Film On A Tibetan Migrant Finds Unlikely Success -- In China

"This is no moral fairy tale, but a story of the social change underway in some Tibetan areas, spurred on by economic opportunity and education. These seeds of modernity may empower women and put to rest the old Tibetan saying "women aren't worth a penny." In short, this is a film well worth watching for all those ready to put to test their preconceptions about the Land of the Snows." -- Forbes 'Nowhere To Call Home', A Film By Jocelyn Ford: A New Perspective On Tibet

Nominated for Video Librarian's Best Documentaries (U.S.) DocMunich (Germany) NHK Japan Foundation President's Award (Japan)