Like story films, the documentary film genre in Indonesia also continues to evolve. We are trying to dismiss the notion of being a movie with bland storytelling. And we do see some innovations made by documentary filmmakers in this country.

Critical issues and happenings in society mark how documentary films can serve as a reminder for all of us. The relevance and courage of documentary filmmakers in this country lately who raise complex and often sensitive issues make these films more appreciable.

Unfortunately, it is still difficult to see these films. Most of them can only be accessed via festivals. Others we only know about when they are selected as nominees at prestigious film festivals. But these documentaries deserve to meet their audience on a larger scale.

This documentary, directed by Yuda Kurniawan, was made with an observation approach for approximately three years. It follows Ubay (50 years old), a dangdut musician who lives in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta. Together with his dangdut cart orchestra group, he wanted to record their songs. A long-held desire needed to be realized before they got too old. The simple recording process, assisted by Didiet (53 years old), their best friend, could have gone smoother. They faced many obstacles. But they kept fighting to make it happen.
“Roda-Roda Nada” was first screened to the public via the Jogja Documentary Film Festival in November 2022. The film also won the Best Editing title at the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival 2022.

Marijuana. A sensitive topic for some people to talk about. Through this documentary, Mahatma Putra, the director, and his team try to open a space for discussion and a means of reflection for all of us. Divided into five chapters, “Atas Nama Daun” presents several perspectives, each of which should be considered by all of us to review how we should address this issue.

The film used the narrator of caliber actor Tio Pakusadewo and was selected as a nominee for the Best Feature Length Documentary Film of the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival.

62-year-old Basri and 56-year-old Musiyem are a couple who meet on a monthly matchmaking forum called Golek Garwo. They get married, but Basri’s desire to live with Musiyem cannot happen due to the circumstances.

For journalist Aulia Adam, the movie, directed by Wahyu Utami, also shows how closely the state and religion construct a marriage.

Doc. Personal

Dulhaji lives in Api-Api village in the Pekalongan region of Central Java. Poor urban planning and excessive groundwater extraction have caused the soil in his neighborhood to degrade. Because of this, his village has been severely flooded several times since 2008.
Dulhaji tirelessly reminds interested parties to pay attention to the situation of his village while tirelessly earning a living. Dulhaji is a complete package where he makes a living, voices the aspirations of those stuck, and entertains the community. During a village situation that continues to deteriorate, Dulhaji sings and becomes a clown who can be a healthier outlet.

The film, directed by Anita Reza Zein, was selected as a nominee for the Best Short Documentary Film of the 2020 Indonesian Film Festival.

Vena is a Catholic. She lives in a Muslim-majority neighborhood in Aceh. Vena enjoys wearing the hijab in her daily life and has many friends who are Muslim. However, how can she continue to live as herself and adapt as a minority in an Islamic majority environment? Family factors influence her life.

“Minor” is a narrative of Christian life in Aceh through the observational storytelling of a Christian girl.
The film, directed by Vena Besta Klaudina and Takziyatun Nufus, was selected as a nominee for the 2019 Indonesian Film Festival’s Best Feature Documentary Film.

Front of the State Palace, March 2017. Some people wearing simple clothes with caping put their feet in a wooden box spilled with wet cement. This is a form of resistance from Kendeng farmers whose environment has been disrupted due to environmental pollution caused by the opening of a cement factory.

Bagus and the Sedulur Sikep community share the same environmental concerns. With his friends, Bagus founded the music group Kendeng Squad where they expressed their concern for the environment’s future. The movie is a co-production of Sedap Films and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia.

“Ibu Bumi” won the Citra Cup for the Best Feature Length Documentary Film category at the 2020 Indonesian Film Festival.

Doc. Personal

Two childhood friends who are now teenagers, Andrea and Salsabila, live with their blindness in two different countries: America and Indonesia. Both share the same hope for the future, wanting to be independent as blind people to prepare for a better future in a society that is not fully inclusive and often still unfriendly to blind people like them.

“Sejauh Ku Melangkah,” directed by Ucu Agustin, was selected as the Best Short Documentary Film of the 2019 Indonesian Film Festival.

Source: Makassar Today