Anita Chang’s “Tongues of Heaven” Film

By Amy Lee, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient

We had the pleasure to view the screening of Anita Chang’s new film, “Tongues of Heaven” at NATWA. The film is set in Taiwan and Hawai’i and focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears—languages that are endangered or facing extinction. Using digital video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from divergent backgrounds collaborate and exchange ideas to consider the impact of language on identity and culture.

Following up with the screening, Anita hosted a Q&A session with the audience. Tongues of Heaven is a documentary relied heavily on self filming from those who took part in the film. With the majority of the world’s population speaking only 4% of the world’s languages, the film discuss the struggles and

perspectives of preserving mother tongues in the age of homogenizing languages.

Anita talked about not only the main theme of the film, languages, but also the other various topics that were briefly brought up in the film. Indigenous people’s health issues, politics they face and many more are all touched upon in the film. As a film maker, Anita had decided to make sure the film is focused on languages. Anita also mentioned that she many scenes were self made by the young indigenous people- she had them carry simple camera equipments with them and record the moments that they were compelled to share.

Anita’s film is screening in various cities. For more information, visit Anita’s website:


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