CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI
Directed by The Children of Srikandi Collective
Official Selection, 2012 Berlin International Film Festival
A film that revels in performance, CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI is as much about being young, lesbian, and Indonesian, as it is about serenading elders on the street, a mother’s uncanny fairy tales, and rocking Gucci suspenders. It delivers the modern energy and razor sharp edges of Indonesian queer sisterhood bundled into a documentary that is smart, edgy, and evocative.
In 2010 Indonesia, two LGBT events, one a longstanding film festival, were attacked by conservative groups. Against this backdrop and in a country with the world’s largest Muslim population, eight women’s personal stories are intercut with gorgeous shadow puppetry stunningly performed by transgender players about the story of Srikandi, a warrior woman who identifies as a man in the Mahabharata, a famous Indian epic.
Originally a workshop of eight films, CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI makes the oft-distracting anthology structure feel more like effortless discovery. No accident as the filmmakers decided to use different art practices to perform each other’s stories, multiplying identity and playing with the documentary format. The art is arresting and fresh, exploring areas such as butchness and the hijab, the cagey promise of solidarity, and the discovery of first love. There are stunning photos of seamless Indonesian neighborhoods interrupted by queerness in all its glory, and amber-lit strolls through the streets punctuated by guitar ballads and theater.
With tracks by Indonesia’s only female hip hopper Yacko, CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI is the first film by and about queer women in Indonesia, proving the rewards of filmmaking in the hands of its subjects. The film gives us a slice of emerging queerness that is radical and specifically Indonesian, in voices that feel like they come from the future. –Christina Ree
Co-presented by: Indonesian Arts and Culture Center