DVD Review: Neither Here Nor There, a Short Documentary About ‘Third Culture Kids’

28 August 2012

I had never heard of the term ‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCKs) before, but since I’m researching a film about expats myself I wanted to know more. The term refers to people who grow up in countries that are not their home country. Mostly, later on in their lives, they struggle with identity problems.

The filmmaker, Ema Ryan Yamazaki, follows 6 TCKs as they think about who they are. At the same time the film is also a self-exploratory quest for Ema herself. She is Japanese-British raised bi-culturally who now lives in New York. In her last year of college, she attempts to figure out who she is in the context of the world.

On the website for the film she describes how she finds herself not quite fitting in anywhere but at the same time able to blend in everywhere, Ema often finds herself lingering between the perspective of the insider and the outsider in many societies. Through the world of film and storytelling, she explores human nature, cultural perspective, and gives a voice to those who are less often heard.

NEITHER HERE NOR THERE Teaser from Ema Ryan Yamazaki on Vimeo.

The film is mainly ‘told’ by talking heads and gives a clear insight in the problems these TCKs struggle with. Not being able to attach in relationships, looking familiar to peers but being different, not knowing where is home and ‘who am I’. As one interviewee, whose father worked for an international American school, comments “I can be here, but not completely”.

One of the authors of the book ‘Third Culture Kids’, Ruth van Reken, describes in the film how we learn about who we are while getting mirrored by the world. If the way you are being mirrored by the changing environment alters, the concept of ‘I’ can become difficult to figure out. “It feels like I have to choose but I can’t”, says one of the interviewees.

While getting together, the six figure out they can be ‘the combination of who they are’. It looks like this makes them finally come home although ‘home’ might have more than four walls.

It suddenly reminds me of the question I was dealing with in my former film My Long Distance Friend, ‘Where do you feel at home?’ I realise my next film will deal partly with the same question again. Maybe questions about ‘home’ and ‘identity’ will never fully be answered but asking the questions might help us to grow.

You can see a clip of the documentary on the website for Neither Here Nor There. DVDs are also available via the website.

Review by Carina Molier. Carina is a filmmaker from Amsterdam. Her latest documentary ‘My Long Distance Friend’ is about longing for security in an ever globalising world.