4/16/2014 by Katie Nelson
Nowhere to Call Home follows a Tibetan farmer who leaves her village to work in Beijing for the sake of her son’s education despite overwhelming discrimination the two face amid the political strife that has gripped China and Tibet. The story is the first vérité film centered on Tibetan farmers who migrate to Han Chinese cities, and one that will redirect Western perspectives on the ethnic group in both settings.
Here’s the synopsis, provided by the film’s official website:
Widowed at 28, Tibetan farmer Zanta defies her tyrannical father-in-law and refuses to marry his only surviving son, who is in prison for armed robbery. When Zanta’s in-laws won’t let her seven-year-old go to school, she flees to Beijing to become a street vendor. Destitute, and embattled by ethnic discrimination she inveigles a foreign customer into helping pay her boy’s school fees. When the three travel back to Zanta’s village for the New Year holiday, Zanta’s father-in-law takes her son hostage. The unwitting American journalist faces a tough decision: does she intervene in the violent family dispute, or watch in silence as Zanta and Yang Qing face abuses typically borne by Tibetan widows and their children.
This is the first feature-legnth documentary by Beijing-based filmmaker and radio correspondent Jocelyn Ford: “Through this story, I hope to make a small contribution to a discussion that may lead to a better-informed world and more enlightened policies, as well as provide food for thought to anyone who has ever reached out to, or is contemplating assisting someone less fortunate.”