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DRAWING THE TIGER (#HotDocs15 Review)



Directed by Amy Benson and Scott Squire

The sun rises slowly on a farm in Nepal and so it rises on DRAWING THE TIGER as well, a film seven years in the making. We are introduced to Shanta Darnal in voiceover narration. She tells us of how difficult life is for her family while filmmakers, Amy Benson and Scott Squire, show us on screen. Almost every moment of every day is one of labour. It takes every family member to help keep the farm functioning and they make the most of what they have. Then one day, Shanta is chosen to go to school in Kathmandu and their lives are forever changed.


DRAWING THE TIGER tells this family’s story with patience and respect. I suppose this is the least one can expect from a project that spans such a long period of time. The entire family knows that Shanta is special, that she is meant for something greater than what her village can provide her. This is a position that is met with a variety of reactions. While there is certainly pride in her abilities and accomplishments, there is also resentment for the exact same things. She is the family’s hopes for a better life if she is able to make something of herself with her education, something no one else in the family has. She is also a reminder of what they don’t have and how much work they have to do so that she can have this opportunity. Any way you look at it, there is an immense amount of pressure on this young girl’s shoulders, too much.


Benson and Squire, both first time feature filmmakers, work well together to make a compelling and engaging film about an impossible situation that goes from bad to worse when it was only supposed to get better. They exhibit great sensitivity while they capture this family’s suffering and still manage to make a poignant picture at the same time.

3.5 sheep

DRAWING THE TIGER will have its World Premiere at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival as part of the International Spectrum program.

Screening Schedule …

Wednesday, April 29, 6:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Friday, May 1, 4:45 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, May 2, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

For more information and for tickets, please visit

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How many sheep would you give Drawing the Tiger?


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