August 1, 2012

(Note from Daniel: Apologies for the radio silence around here, but the end of the project was such a whirlwind of planning, post-production, team members having to leave home early, screenings, further editing, and more that we haven’t had time to update the blog until long after the dust settled. The following piece is lifted belatedly from Amirah’s excellent (in)donesia blog, while I will be posting up another reflection sometime in the next few days.)

On July 7, at the trendy Kedai Kebun Forum, our weeks of cultural exchange, long days of filming and all-nighters spent editing culminated (though that word really is too final for my liking) in a screening of the three films produced as a result of the Nourish International/Kampung Halaman collaboration.

After much deliberation, we’d titled our series ‘Kita Belajar’ (or, ‘We Learn’, though the English translation does not fully encapsulate the inclusive ‘we’ of the Indonesian ‘kita’). The name had been staring us in the face the entire time as Daniel had cleverly made it the title of our team blog in early May, but we hadn’t thought to use it until the very last moment. The official blurb:

In May 2012, seven US students joined the Indonesian NGO Kampung Halaman to produce participatory media stories in Yogyakarta, an academic and cultural hub of Indonesia. These students worked directly with Indonesian youth on stories in three different communities - Gama 55 (Dusun Krapyak, Wedomartani, Sleman), PMII UIN (Yogyakarta), Kobatte (Tembi, Bantul) - exploring culture, identity and daily life through their perspectives.

Though we faced a couple of obstacles - the most significant being the fact that due to all our incredibly last-minute editing, Dan didn’t get the boys’ film to the venue till two hours into the screening (!) - the evening was lovely. It was the perfect way to end our collaboration. We got to share the fruits of our labour representatives from other NGO’s working on community media projects, backpackers who had stumbled into our screening after dinner at Kedai Kebun and, most importantly, all the wonderful friends we had made in Yogya, - in the Kampung Halaman staff, the communities we worked within and those we had met through Greg and Tom.

After being serenaded by the entire staff of Kampung Halaman, we celebrated with a very very late dinner at the wonderfully weird House of Remington.

The actual films will be posted here as soon as they are uploaded online. For now, below are their accompanying descriptions:

Kota Pelajar by Amirah Jiwa and Evgeniya Serdetchnaia

Yogyakarta is home to over one hundred higher educational institutes of different religious denominations, specializations and degrees of public ownership. We profile female students from the community of Krapyak in Yogyakarta at different stages in their education. Astri Larasati (Laras) has just graduated from SMK Negeri 1 Depok, a vocational public high school, and is choosing a university. Diah Arumsari (Ayi) is sitting her second year final exams at Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Ekonomie YKPN, a speciality university for finance. Cici is working on her thesis before she graduates from the Universitas Islam Negeri. We explore the differences between college life in the United States and in Indonesia - the differences are often more subtle than they are apparent. Their families have given the students the choice to follow their dreams, but they all aim to use to use their education and careers to give back to their parents. They find education in Yogya to be both affordable and accessible but still, they have reflected on the ways in which the current system can be improved.

Jalan Tengah by Kevin Briggs, Greg Randolph and Daniel Turner

Developing a unique understanding of moderate Islam, preserving Indonesian culture and working as agents of social change, members of Pergerakan Mahasiswa Islam Indonesia (PMII) at Universitas Islam Negeri-Sunan Kalijaga employ the philosophy of ‘rahmatan lil ‘alamin’ (Blessings of all Creation) as a fundamental tool of moral navigation. Exploring the manifestation of this philosophy within the various outlets of PMII lifestyle and interactions, this film follows the struggle of actualizing academic social theory with the reality of life in Indonesia. From the campus to coffee shops to the rural village of Kepuhan, PMII’s core values of community and equality are exhibited through friendship, faith, political justice and their love of the nation of Indonesia.

Wayang Gaul by Grace Farson and Nicole Welsh

In the village of Tembi, wayang, traditional Javanese shadow puppetry, has long been considered to be a central part of educating, entertaining and sharing heritage with younger generations. Many children of Tembi however, find the wayang performances long and tedious, making it difficult for the elders to pass on the traditional stories and values. In order to bridge this gap, Mas Humam created Wayang Gaul, a contemporary spin on wayang, in Tembi. Wayang Gaul adapts the traditional plots and gamelon compositions of wayang to address current issues, such as corruption or the effects of modern technology. His main goal is not only to reconnect the children of Tembi with their roots, but show them that through the arts they can increase their confidence and become vessels of their heritage, bridging the generational gap. This film takes a look as the impact of Mas Humam and Wayang Gaul on youth in Tembi as they work to create a Wayang about the importance of their community and culture.