Film Festival Today

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Women’s Work In Rural Tibet

Written by: FFT Webmaster | June 21st, 2011


In rural Tibet, gathering 80 pounds of potable water 3 to 4 times a day is a backbreaking but necessary job. It is also considered women’s work. WATER, a new short film by Bari Pearlman, follows one such woman on this herculean task as she spends hours traveling to and from the local water source, filling up the massive barrel she must carry on her back. Though necessary for her and her family’s survival, this task is not only physically debilitating, but the time spent collecting water prohibits her from seeking income-earning employment, education and much-needed rest from her other exhausting responsibilities. The film is part of a series entitled NANGCHEN SHORTS, a collection of short films about life in rural Tibet. It screens this week at AFI Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival, one of the largest and most respected documentary film festivals in the world.


In her work, Bari has explored a diversity of seemingly unrelated subjects – the Jewish women who fanatically play a traditional Chinese game (MAH JONGG: THE TILES THAT BIND),  Buddhist nuns in remote Tibet (DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM),  the 180 residents of a peculiar Alaskan town (THE STRANGEST TOWN IN ALASKA) – but what unifies them is their examination of the idea of community. Bari’s award-winning feature documentary DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM (2007), about the exceptional women of Kala Rongo Monastery in rural Tibet, was released theatrically in 2008, and is currently screening at museums and universities around the world. The film will have a special screening on June 26 at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington DC.

Bari Pearlman

Online, Bari regularly creates new episodes for her YouTube series What in the World. She is now creating an interactive web project A PERIOD PIECE, about women’s relationships to menstruation. Her IFC Films interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman about his role in the film MARY & MAX can be streamed on

As a Producer, Bari is currently collaborating with Telling Image Films on Ezra Bookstein’s second feature documentary SHOWTIME!. She also produced Lee Storey’s award-winning feature documentary SMILE TIL IT HURTS: The Up With People Story (2009) about the kitschy upbeat singing group, which is now preparing for its theatrical release.

For her next project, she will be turning her attention to a community that is much more personal to her – her own family – with LOOKING FOR LEPKE OR THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT BLACK SHEEP. The film is an expressionist portrait of the notorious gangster who was her grandfather’s first cousin. To view a segment of the short film WATER, visit:


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