If you missed Jocelyn Ford’s Nowhere to Call Home at the Museum of Modern Art’s ContemporAsian‘s Lens on Tibet series, you’re in luck. The producers have made it available for viewing on demand or purchase. We really enjoyed this film which recounts recounts the story of Zanta, a young Tibetan widow with a school-age son, who Ford meets in Beijing and with whom unexpectedly becomes entwined. In her first venture into film, this radio journalist’s compassionate, storytelling voice personalizes a compelling narrative that serendipitously comes upon suspense and a villain when Ford reluctantly (as a foreign journalist) but eagerly (as a woman) becomes involved with a family feud.
The New York Times writes:
“The film breaks down the sometimes romantic Shangri-La view that Westerners have of Tibet, showing it to be a place with many hidebound traditions, especially discrimination against women. It also offers a shocking portrait of the outright racism that Zanta and other Tibetans face in Chinese parts of the country. And it shows how many members of minorities lack even basic education: Zanta’s sisters are illiterate, unable to count their change in the market or recognize the numbers on a cellphone. But maybe most surprising is that Ms. Ford has been quietly showing the film in China itself, eliciting admiration and unease that such a penetrating film was made by a foreigner.” (full review here)
In a Q&A following a screening at MoMA, Ford mentioned the film was recognized by Xinhua, the state press agency of the People’s Republic of China, as an example that shows the value of getting out there and being engaged in getting the story. Supporting the idea that Tibet is a complicated and diverse place, Ford also presented the fact that the area around Lhasa, home of the Potala Palace, which makes up many people’s archetypal idea of Tibet is less than half the region. Chinese and foreigners alike don’t know Tibet. For many, Nowhere to Call Home could be an engaging and revealing closer look at Tibetans in China.
Image by Alice Carfrae. Courtesy of Jocelyn Ford