Special Screenings
Traveling Festival


On a Tightrope
(60 minutes) China/Norway
Director: Petr Lom
Producer: Torstein Grude

In an orphanage in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, children study tightrope walking. The children are Uighurs, the largest Muslim minority in China. Fearing the Uyghurs' separatist movement, China rules with an iron fist in Xinjiang. Youngsters are forbidden to profess their religion, and the regime jumps at every opportunity to glorify the unity of China. Walking the tightrope is an age-old Uyghur tradition, and their feats are spectacular. The children look up to their coach, but his intentions are dubious. After nine months of intense training, most children are told they have failed and will not be able to continue the course. The film follows four children in the orphanage in their struggle to build a better life for themselves. They talk about the frustration of having to practice so hard, only to find out that it was all for nothing. But they also discuss their life in the orphanage and the required loyalty to communism, and their dreams for the future come up on a regular basis. Though not all of them really want a career in tightrope walking, they still feel that they have failed. Then, an elderly retired tightrope walker shows up and becomes their new coach. Lovingly and patiently, he teaches the children to walk the tightrope, this time with success.

Petr Lom was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia and grew up in Canada. He is a former academic with a PhD in philosophy from Harvard University. Lom taught at several European universities from 1999-2004 and began making documentaries in 2004, specializing in human rights films. His first film, Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, enjoyed great success. It won the UNAFF Grand Jury Prize in 2005.

Contact information:
Toril Simonsen
Norwegian Film Institute
Dronningens Gate 16, PO Box 482 Sentrum
0105 Oslo
E-mail: ts@nfi.no
Web site: www.onatightrope.org
©2007 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)
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