2002. Indonesia at the margins: Political documentaries and essay films

Indonesia at the margins: Political documentaries and essay films

by Garin Nugroho (1991–2002)

The Collection comprises the following four films (all subtitled into English)
Air Dan Romi (‘Water and Romi’, 1991)
Dongeng Kancil Tentang Kemerdekaan (‘Kancil’s Story About Independence’, 1995)
My Family, My Films and My Nation (1998)
Aikon: Sebuah Peta Budaya (‘Icon: A Cultural Map’, 2000-2002)

The four films on this DVD are the most important early documentary and essay films by Indonesia’s leading director of features, Garin Nugroho. The subjects examined in this collection include environmental issues in Jakarta, the plight of some young street kids in Yogyakarta, the past and future of  West Papua, and Nugroho’s relationship to his own films. The first two films in effect are pioneering works in the development of critical and investigative documentary in Indonesia, made in the Suharto era, at a time of considerable political repression. The two later films are innovative documentary-essay films, made by Nugroho with the resources of his SET Workshop. In this collection all the films have had their subtitling revised or based on completely new translations.

Garin documentaries DVD menu.
Garin explains in Icon.
Icon A Cultural Map - Opening Shot.
Romi cleans a Jakarta river.
Street kids in Jogja.
West Papuan interviewee.

Water and Romi (1991) (27 minutes) is an environmental documentary about pollution in the river systems of Jakarta, and the supply of clean water to slum areas. It was funded by the Goethe Institute for a conference on the environment. President Suharto’s intelligence agency, BAKIN, is believed to have attempted to ban this film. Kancil’s Story About Independence (1995) (57 minutes) is a documentary about street kids in Yogyakarta, funded by Japanese television, and is deeply critical of Indonesia’s ability to support its own young people. It was the inspiration for Nugroho’s later Leaf on a Pillow (1998) a prize winning feature about street kids in this historic city in Central Java.My Family, My Films and My Nation (1998) (31 minutes) is a unique ‘essay film’ about Nugroho’s relation to his own films and film subjects. Icon: A Cultural Map (2000-2002) (20 minutes) is a combination documentary and essay film made about the historic West Papuan Congress held in Jayapura in late May-early June 2000 during the Presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid. This unique film explores the brief temporary freedom to express themselves found by the West Papuans, prior to the subsequent repression by the Indonesian state.

The total running time of the films on the DVD is 135 minutes. The DVD also includes a lengthy essay, on the films and their production and social contexts, as a pdf file which can be opened on a computer and printed out.

Garin Nugroho’s feature films include Love on a Slice of Bread (1991), Letter to an Angel (1994), And the Moon Dances. (1995), Leaf on a Pillow (1998), Poetry Cannot be Buried (2000), Bird-Man Tale (2002) and Opera Jawa (2006).

For more information about Garin Nugroho  see the website of his SET Workshop: