The Only Son

  • Simonka de Jong
  • Netherlands
  • 2012
  • 78 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
Pema is a Tibetan whose plans for the future are being thwarted by his past. He is his parents' only son, and they want him to return to the village of his birth, marry a local girl and take care of them. He and his sisters spent their youth in a children's home in the city, while his parents stayed behind in their remote Himalayan village. Together with his sisters, one of whom was adopted by a Dutch couple and grew up in the Netherlands, Pema goes to visit the distant village. The only way to their family's home is a 10-day trek through the mountains. After a warm reunion, tensions quickly rise: the parents expect their only son to accept his responsibility, get married and tend to their land. But Pema can't imagine life in this isolated place devoid of computers or books, and he also wants to save his sisters from a similar fate. With spectacular cinematography of the mountainous landscape as its background, The Only Son presents a sensitive generational conflict that reveals the contrasts between choosing for a primitive life in the mountains, the future that parents want for their children, and the extinction of traditions. Pema and his Westernized sisters don't want to abandon their parents, but they also look forward to their own, modern existence.


  • 78 min
  • color
  • video
  • Spoken languages: Nepalese, Dutch, English, Tibetan
  • Subtitles in: English
Simonka de Jong
Suzanne van Voorst for Moondocs
Executive producer
Jorinde Sorée for Moondocs, Ilja Roomans for Moondocs
Off World
Wiro Felix

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

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IDFA history

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