Dirs: Garin Nugroho, Tonny Trimarsanto, Viva Westi,Lianto Luseno. Ind'sia-Fr. 2006. 75mins.
Concentrating on the events after 2004's Asiantsunami disaster, the documentary Serambifunctions best as a companion piece to Garin Nugroho's previous work Of Love And Eggs, itself an ebullient pieceabout an Indonesian marketplace. Presenting through its collage of images thehuman and natural plight after the terrible catastrophe, it is often impressiveand relevant, but needs more structure and fine-tuning before going out intothe market. Festivals - it screened in Un CertainRegard at Cannes - will pick it up as firsthand testimony of this century'smost terrible tragedy yet, but prospects beyond that may be muted. Certainly itis less effective than Abbas Kiarostami's similarly-themed And Life Goes On, shown at Cannes in 1991.
The title in freetranslation roughly means 'veranda' and here refers to the city ofAceh, known to Indonesia's majority Muslim population as 'the antechamberto Mecca'.
It was one of the hardesthit regions in December 2004 following the earthquake and subsequent floods, as100,000 lost their lives. Many more were left homeless and destitute, dependenton international aid to survive.
The picture opens with the bynow familiar sequences of destruction and mountains of rubble, followed by thedevastated faces of those who have lost whole families or else pray, againsthope, to find survivors.
Then, imperceptibly, themood changes as somehow, amid the calamity, the human instinct for survival takeshold. The grieving numbness makes way for a song here, a dance there. Some spiritedarguments start breaking out: should one make the best of the time left beforethe next misfortune arrives or start re-building houses from scratch'
Amid the rescuers there are thosewho see the upheaval in political terms, possibly as a means through which torebuild society in a different and revolutionary manner - but even they are nowreviewing their position and looking at the people they are supposed to assistfrom a different perspective. After all, there are more urgent things to do nowthan incite mutiny, since - for a change - no government norpolitical regime can be blamed for such a tragedy.
Shot digitally, the film wasassembled with little reflection on structure, and it loses much of its newsworthyvalue through the huge amount of disaster footage already aired worldwide.
Rather the focus should havebeen more on what has happened since. To be fair there is inclusion ofinterviewees recalling close friends and relatives who disappeared, andmemorable images like that of two survivors dancing against the sunset.
Christine Hakim Films
Christine Hakim Films
Barly Juan Fibriady