Christopher Rufo’s exploration of the unifying power of baseball makes its debut this weekend as part of the WORLD Channel’s international doc series.
Set in China’s Xinjiang Province, Rufo’s film follows Parhat, one of the region’s indigenous Uyghur Muslim minority, as the youth leaves his rural village for university in the big city. His mother explains that he’s discovered a game that’s foreign to the Uyghur people – baseball. Living a segregated existence from the Han Chinese majority, the only venue for cross-cultural exchange is the baseball diamond, with Parhat captaining the university’s integrated squad – and the only team in the province. As they train for an entire year to compete in a single game against a Tibetan team 2000 miles away, Rufo follows Parhat and his teammates against the backdrop of an ongoing ethnic separatist conflict in the region which threatens to dissolve the team. Providing a rare look at an ethnic minority in China, the film – and its likeable protagonist – goes beyond a simple baseball team profile to successfully demonstrates the potential of sports to bridge cultural and religious divides.