In an orphanage in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, children study tightrope walking. Their feats are spectacular. The children are Uyghurs, the largest Muslim minority in China. They try to find the balance between their required loyalty to communism and their Muslim identity. Petr Lom follows four children in the orphanage in their struggle to build a better life for themselves.
Walking the tightrope is an age-old Uyghur tradition. 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. The children talk about the frustration of having to practice so hard, only to find out that it was all for nothing. But they also discuss their life in the orphanage, and their dreams for the future come up on a regular basis. Their fate takes a turn when an elderly retired tightrope walker shows up and becomes their new coach. Loving and patient, he teaches the children to walk the tightrope, this time with success.
On a Tightrope will be screened once as part of the free Sakharov Special. You can find more information about this evening and the registration form on this page.