Amy Benson will present her documentary "Drawing the Tiger"
March 22, 2016

Saint Martin’s University will welcome award-winning filmmaker Amy Benson to campus for a presentation of her documentary “Drawing the Tiger” as part of the Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Norman Worthington Conference Center, located on the Saint Martin’s University campus.

Filmed over seven years, “Drawing the Tiger” presents an intimate portrait of a Nepali family struggling to survive after they lose their only educated child—a determined scholarship recipient—to suicide. “Drawing the Tiger” not only brings global development watchwords to life—less than a dollar a day, illiteracy, child marriage, migration—but also explores factors not often measured, such as self-esteem, faith, mental health and marital love.

Although the film began as a nonprofit-sponsored project about the power of girls’ education in the developing world, Benson and her Nepali co-director, Ramyata Limbu, changed course when its star, Shanta, ended her own life a year before graduation. The NGO responded by removing Shanta from its promotional materials. But Benson and Limbu, determined to continue telling Shanta’s story, decided to carry on with the project. For the next several years, they documented the lives of her family and explored factors that influence the quality of life for women in Nepal, noting that suicide is the number-one cause of death for women in South Asia.

Benson’s April 6 presentation marks her second visit to Saint Martin’s campus. Her first visit was in February 2015, during which she showed clips of “Drawing the Tiger” and discussed the complexities and underlying assumptions of Western development programs in non-Western contexts.

Benson, who is the co-owner of Nonfiction Media, a Seattle production company, has shot and edited over 25 short films telling the stories of nonprofits throughout the Pacific Northwest, Africa and Asia. Her personal documentary short “Three: impressions from the struggle for girls’ education” was the centerpiece of the UNIFEM Singapore film festival. Another short, “Called to shine,” about Clarksdale, Mississippi’s only female preacher, premiered at the Langston Hughes film festival. Her very first short about life in a local homeless encampment won awards from SIFF and The Seattle Times. “Drawing the Tiger” is her feature debut.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s University Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s. For more information, contact Robert Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For more information:

Robert Hauhart
Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Saint Martin’s University

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager, Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University