In an orphanage in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, children study tightrope walking. The children are Uyghurs, 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. Petr Lom follows four children in the orphanage in their struggle to build a better life for themselves. They talk about the frustration of having to practise 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.
Petr Lom was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968. He grew up in Canada and received his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard University in 1997. He gave up his career in the University in 2004 to pursue a full-time career as a documentary filmmaker. His first film was ‘Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan’ (2004).
On a Tightrope
2006, 70', color, 35 mm
Piraya Film, Lom Films