Monday, May 16, 2016


Directed by: Rahung Nasution
Running time: 48 min

For Germans, communism is dead as the last piece of Berlin Wall was torn apart 25 years ago. For the rest of the world, it is just a past. But for us Indonesians, the ghost of communism is alive and well. Yes, you read it just right, alive and well.

Even after 50 years since the so called communist "coup" happened in Indonesia (at least that is what the government is so hard to emphasize), anything related to communism and Marxism still incite fear among the masses. 

There's this "scare" wind blown by irresponsible figures that communism will rise again. Like a vampire which will devour us all. A silly scare for intellectuals but a real one for gullible people.

By this socio political climate, last March a short documentary successfully ruffle some feathers. This unsexy genre for mainstream Indonesian moviegoers take a sensitive issue, the illegal imprisonment for people accused of association with the Indonesian Communist Party at Buru island, East Indonesia. 

The first screening (March 16, 2016) at Goethe Institute got cancelled since the police who was supposed to protect and serve the rights for peaceful gatherings will not give guarantee for the safety of the screening.

The same case happened to screening of The Look of Silence and The Act of Killing in some regions far away from Jakarta. Even ASEAN Literature festival "almost" receive similar fate.

So the screening moved to the office of Human Rights affairs later that night to a packed audience. Three days later, March 19, the screening was made available again but at LBH Jakarta (Public Law attorney's office) during Belok Kiri Festival (Turn Left Festival, also received similar fate, not given protection to gather and discuss peacefully by the police).

The documentary itself is very beautiful. It does not try to take the whole subject, but a personal journey for ex prisoner, Hesrsri Setiawan, a poet formerly a member of Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat, people's cultural institution, culturally but not officialy related to Indonesian Communist Party).

Hesrsi nostalgic return to Buru island was met with his fellow inmates, shares stories and hopes to the audience. Although it has some flaws (such as audio inaudible and loose editing), this is a daring but also a beautiful documentary about what it feels as someone who has been imprisoned without fair trial at all. A powerful reminder that such atrocity has happened (and surely shall not happen again) in Indonesia.

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