Hot Docs 2015 Review: Drawing The Tiger
A singular destitute Nepalese family, one with a savvy daughter whose future may not include the trials befalling those before her, is the focus of this illuminating seven-year story. While the family struggles to survive day to day, subject to a system that keeps them in poverty, there is only a modicum of hope – not for the present, but the for the next generation.
Shanta is the young and promising girl at the heart of Drawing the Tiger, a documentary indeed full of heart, and intimacy. In a school that gets little attention, Shanta through hard work and luck earns a scholarship to the capital Kathmandu, and there lies promise for her future and salvation for her family.
Across nearly a decade we spend time with the family, and the idealistic rises and devastating falls they endure. The viewer swells and sinks with them, and when tragedy strikes, it’s instantly heart-breaking and forever draining. That we become so devoted to the family, so invested in their plight, is a credit to the filmmakers, especially as they put so much into 90 minutes of story.
The backdrop of course is an outdated, crushing caste system. Drawing the Tiger, though, is less overtly politically, allowing the stories of this family, who willingly give themselves up so wholly and completely to the viewer, to speak for the state of the world. At no time does the film seem opportunistic nor biased, with authentic, universal emotions telling a powerful and simple story.
Shanta will win your heart too, but we must be careful of the dreams and pressures we place on her.