On A Tightrope; A Review

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Last Sunday I watched the movie at Jiffest(Jakarta International Film Fest) though actually I went there to watch A Road to Mecca, which had been sold out hours before the screening.

On A Tightrope is a documentary film about 4 specific children, Sarigul, Aijamal, girls, and Jumakhun, Abliz boys, who all are living in an orphanage in Xinjiang province of China and happen to be Uyghurs, the largest Muslim Minority there (Don’t you love oxymoronic phrase). They aren’t all orphans, Aijamal and Jumakhun still have their mothers, Sarigul and Abliz are. They four did tightrope walking as it is Uyghur’s Tradition, and their stories  revolve around it.

Sarigul was a tightrope walker but she started to ignore her school, therefore her teachers were very worried that she would leave school earlier than she is supposed to. Her Teachers were really concerned since Sarigul is actually that kind of bright-talented-girl.

Jumakhun was that small kid who got beaten and hit and mocked for he was small. but he’s so cute and his attitude like the whole world is against him just make him look cuter. He is a good tightrope walker indeed, He wants to be like Adili, world’s best tightrope Walker (who is an Uyghur), but his trainer, Mehmet Tursun never gave him a chance. He told Jumakhun to quit tightrope walking, once again, thanks to Jumakhun’s body size. as he said in one occasion, It’s no good being a small kid.

Abliz was afraid. He wasn’t into tightrope walk at all. He dreams of being a famous singer one day. His singing brought me to tears. He said if his parents were still alive He would put them on his shoulder and brought them all the way to Mecca. He’s my favourite.

Aijamal was Outstanding in tightrope walking. She outshone all her friends. She thought her trainer, Mehmet Tursun was a good man who’s going to make sure everything’s okay. She thought Mr. Tursun can replace her father’s place. She doesn’t think so after he abandoned her and sent her back to the orphanage.
Mehmet Tursun was the best in tightrope walking, but He was too big-headed that Adili, who was very young, soon exceeded him.

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Abliz, Petr Lom, Jumakhun

The film also tells how the children are not allowed to have religion, something that is opposing the fundamental human rights. The China government seems like covering it as Petr Lom shows a video where a Chinese officer said that He wasn’t allowed to translate any of his video in Xinjiang to english.

In the Q&A session he said that there’s a distinct difference whether his movie break the ethical code of media by translating the whole conversation of the movie. Well, he also said that one of his friends was arrested for sending the tapes out of the country by FedEx. So, China seems very sensitive about this issue.

The movie is surprisingly good. I thought It was going to be only about being a tightrope walker and blah blah, but It actually has a strong message inside. No wonder it’s nominated in Grand Jury Prize World Cinema – Documentary in Sundance film Festival in 2007. I get curious on his newest documentary film “Letters to The President” that involves Ahmadinejad. I missed the screenings at Jiffest.

Happy Holiday, hope you’re all well.



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