Drawing the Tiger, directed by Amy Benson and Scott Squire, is an official selection of the 2015 Local Sightings Film Festival which is produced by Seattle's Northwest Film Forum. This documentary feature follows a family in Nepal over the course of several years as they try to build a better life yet find themselves constantly struggling just to survive.
The Darnal family lives in a world foreign in so many ways compared to what we know in the United States as their daily struggles include debt, hunger, and basic necessities. One of the ways the family attempts to rise above this extreme level of poverty is by sending their daughter Shanta into the city of Kathmandu to attend school thanks to a scholarship earned after she is identified as a promising student. Her goal will be to defeat nearly impossible odds by getting an education, finding a well paying career path, and then returning to home to help take care of the family. With so much pressure put on a young teenage girl's shoulders, it becomes more and more apparent as to how this path could lead to a tragic conclusion.
This documentary was supposed to have been an entirely different story, but when it was discovered that Shanta had taken her own life, the film makers reshaped it into a portrayal of the family's ability to carry on after such a heart breaking setback. Not only was Shanta a beloved family member but she was also seen as a way to raise the family's financial status through her education and the directors do a great job of showing why this was so important given the low standard of living and lack of basic resources or modern technologies. It was also very interesting to see the turmoil among family members as they deal with every day issues brought on by poverty, arranged marriage, and generational differences.
Drawing the Tiger is a beautifully shot documentary and really shines a light on what life is like for people in countries that do not have a lot of the luxuries we so easily take for granted here in America and in other more advanced parts of the world. Benson's knowledge and experience regarding the importance of education for girls within developing countries really helps to drive the point home and she successfully finds a way to turn tragedy into inspiration.
CLICK HERE to see my other picks from this year's Local Sightings Film Festival!