Using video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from Austronesian language territories of Taiwan and Hawai’i contemplate and share their questions, desires and challenges of learning their native languages—languages that are endangered or facing extinction.
"You already know the importance of saving a language. You know the reason, but not the motivation to save it," admits Anchi Chen, one of the collaborators for TONGUES OF HEAVEN, a nominee for the Grand Jury Award in Documentary. Set in Taiwan and Hawai'i, TONGUES OF HEAVEN 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 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, 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.