Tales of the Waria

A New Generation, a New Hope

I have to say for the record that I am very impressed with the burgeoning documentary film scene in Indonesia. Yes, cinetrons (Indonesian soap operas) and vaudeville talk shows still dominate the airwaves, but there is a generation of impassioned young folks who are eager to document all facets of Indonesian life—the good and the bad. As Indonesia is a country with over 17,000 islands spanning three time zones and a troubled history largely suppressed by a 30-year dictatorship, they’ve got an incredible wealth of material to draw upon.

Arfan Sabran, an extraordinarily talented documentary filmmaker I befriended early on, invited me to speak at a traveling documentary film festival/workshop put on by In-Docs. I agreed and was delighted to encounter a room full of young documentary lovers. I showed a brief trailer of my film and with the translation skills of esteemed film producer Chandra Tanzil facilitated a talk on how to define “documentary film.” Not an easy topic, I might add, but one which the attendees tackled with gusto. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing more incredible documentary films emerge from Indonesia in the next decade.

Eagle Award winner Arfan Sabran (left) helps to coordinate ScreenDocs
The very kind and talented Chandra Tanzil turns my broken Indonesian into coherent sentences

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