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On a Tightrope by Lom, Petr

The Chinese province of Xinjiang holds a large Uyghur population. This ethnic minority is Muslim and has its own Turkic language. In this film four children are interviewed who live in the state orphanage and who want to master the ancient Uyghur skill of tightrope walking. However, they are restricted in their freedom to do so. Any youngster in the Xinjiang province is forbidden to profess a religion. China fears separatism of the Uyghur population. Through these young children we learn how the Uyghur people balance between their own traditions and the demands of the communist state of China.

Social Interest
The film "On a Tightrope" shows the everyday life of the Uyghur minority in communist China. Not only does it show the restriction with which this group has to live, it also shows the gloomy future of the orphans. Despite this, however, these children fervently believe that through diligence they will achieve their goals. They learn not to rely on religion but to choose science as their guide in life. Only Jumakhun holds on to his dream as a tightrope walker. This documentary addresses the human rights issues present among minorities in China. The freedom of choice and the freedom of religion are presented within the framework of communism, orphan life and cultural heritage.

Political Relevance
The Uyghur primarily live in the Xinjiang province of China. This ethnic minority lives dispersed throughout Eastern Asia. Their ancestry derives from two populations; Turkic and Tocharian. The Uyghur have a rich history and always have been nationalistic under Chinese rule. After the incorporation of the East Turkestan Republic their territory was renamed Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Because of the influx of the ethnic Han Chinese, the Uyghur have become a minority in their own country. Uyghur nationalist are termed terrorists by the Chinese government. Human rights movements have become concerned with this Chinese 'war or terror'. Many men and women of this ethnic minority are imprisoned because they want political and religious freedom. As a UN member China is obliged to protect freedom of religion. The Uyghur Human Rights Project tries to promote human rights and democracy for this ethnic minority.

The Producer
Petr Lom, a former academic with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University, directed, filmed and directed 'On a Tightrope'. After his teaching career, Lom fully dedicated himself to making documentaries. His films address human rights and enjoy great successes. His films 'Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan' and 'On a Tightrope' have been shown at many festivals such as the Sundance Festival and IDFA, receiving great reviews.

Lom, Petr
Copyright Holder
Beeld voor Beeld
70 min.
Year of release
Chinese, Uyghur

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