Nowhere to Call Home: Prejudice in Tibet and China

Following the screening, an audience member commented on the impressive access that Jocelyn Ford had gained in locations in both Tibet and China, and asked her to comment on the different obstacles that she faced in the process.

Ford responded:
“As you may have noticed, I had never made a film before and had no idea how to go about it. But what I was told was that there is one important thing: you must have trust from the person in your film. Zanta gave me that trust within twenty minutes of our conversation. With other people… well, Beijing is a lawless sort of place, so I would show up at the police station [to film] and they’d have to figure out what to do with me…”

Another member of the audience wondered whether the director still maintained regular contact with the protagonists of Nowhere to Call Home, Zanta and her son Yang Quing, as the project was filmed six years ago in 2009. Ford replied that she had recently been in touch with Zanta, who had provided an update on the progress of her now fourteen-year-old son:

“His English is excellent, his Maths….forget it! He’s had a lot of difficulties. The teacher has been very unwelcoming to Tibetans and told other children not to associate with him. It’s not been easy.”

The discussion then moved onto the reactions that the film had provoked, by both Tibetan and Chinese viewers. Ford commented that she had been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the film, on both sides:

“A lot of Han Chinese are totally shocked because the media and propaganda machine says that they treat Tibetans so well, and give them all this money… I consider this very media driven. So when they see the film they have to come to grips with the difference between what they thought before and what they see here, because Zanta is amazingly frank.”

Ford also mentioned the positive outcome of screening Nowhere to Call Home in school settings in China:

“A lot of times I’ve been really pleased with the Han Chinese high-school kids in Beijing. A lot have said, ‘Well gosh, we see there’s a problem and what do we do about it? Who should be responsible? Can I, as an individual, do anything?’ I’ve had an outpouring of people offering to help them, so I’m encouraged.”


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