Directed by: Anita Chang 2012 | 60 min.

Section: Documentary Nominees

Premiere: Los Angeles


Community Co-Presenter:

OCA- Orange County Chapter

Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum

USC East Asian Languages and Cultures

“You already know the importance of saving a language. The main point is that you must start doing it. You know the reason, but not the motivation to save it. This is where I'm confused. You can also say I'm waiting for that something,” admits Anchi Chen, one of the youth collaborators for TONGUES OF HEAVEN, a one-hour digital documentary. Set in Taiwan and Hawai'i, territories where languages of the Austronesian family are spoken, this experimental documentary focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears — languages that are facing extinction. Using digital video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from divergent backgrounds together collaborate and exchange ideas to consider the impact of language on identity and culture. With 96% of the world’s population speaking only 4% of the world’s languages, the young filmmakers ask, what does it mean to speak your mother tongue in this age of language homogenization? To put it another way, what do you lose when you lose your native language? These are just some of the questions that these women, with camera in hand, ask themselves, their families and peers.

     Employing a filmmaking strategy honed over a decade beginning with her 2002 Film Festival offering SHE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU, award-winning documentary filmmaker Anita Chang places the camera in the hands of her documentary subjects, workshopping her young charges in basic documentary filmmaking techniques including camera operation, lighting, and sound recording. Then, standing by as mediator and mentor, the four women (Shinlan Yu and Anchi Chen from Taiwan; and Kainoa Kaupu and Hau’oli Waiau from Hawai’i) conduct spoken word workshops and interviews with family, friends and fellow collaborators. Reuniting in Hawai’i to review the footage shot give the foursome renewed motivation to learn their native language, and to utilize their newly-gained filmmaking skills to facilitate that ongoing mission of cultural recovery. In a sense, TONGUES OF HEAVEN is director Chang’s motivation as well — in fact, a mission of empowerment and sharing through cinema. We anxiously await her next stop.

Synopsis written by: Abraham Ferrer


Saturday, May 04 2:30 PM CGV Cinemas 2 Date Passed
Saturday, May 11 12:30 PM Art Theatre of Long Beach Date Passed

Cast & Crew

Executive Producer Anita Chang
Producer Anita Chang
Director Anita Chang
Writer Anita Chang
Cinematographer Anita Chang, Anchi Chen, Steve Fujimura, Kainao Kaupu, Hau'oli Waiau, Shinlan Yu
Editor Anita Chang
Featuring Anchi Chen, Kainoa Kaupu, Yenfen Lan, Hau'oli Waiau, Shinlan Yu
Sound Gibbs Chapman

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