Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Leonard Retel Helmrich
Directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich
DVD, color, 111 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
Area Studies, Asian Studies, Family, Globalization, Global Studies, Muslim studies, Political Science, Religious Studies
Reviewed by Winifred Fordham Metz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Date Entered: 6/4/2012
The final film in the trilogy, Position Among the Stars brings Rumidjah back to the city to help tend to her granddaughter Tari, at her son’s request. The city has changed exponentially in the five or so years that Rumidjah has been away. Tari has grown into a teenager and embraced most of the trappings of westernized globalization; cell phone, hanging out at the mall with her girlfriends, insisting on taxis and eschewing any vestiges of her grandmother’s culture (the scene where she refused to ride to her graduation in a horse-drawn carriage is at once heartbreaking and amusing). She has also adopted a noticeable independence, perhaps not as respectful as Bachti and Rumidjah would like. This family tension, as with each of the three films, reflects the larger tensions being experienced in the country. Jakarta has become democratized and globalized at breakneck speed, resulting in each of the generations – old and new struggling to adapt.
Here, Bachti seems to best exemplify this. Although he has become neighborhood manager, it does not pay well, so he returns to gambling to supplement his family’s income. And, while he converted to Islam he is not attending the mosque any longer.
Rumidjah seems to continue to look forward, with the hope that Tari will attend University and fair better than her. Undoubtedly, she wants a better life for her granddaughter, but Tari must be a willing participant, for this to work.
At the heart of this cinéma vérité styled documentary, Helmrich has crafted a cinematographic journey capturing the struggles of life a present-day globalized Indonesia as seen through the eyes of the Sjamsuddin family.
- Grand Jury Awards at IDFA, Zagrebdox, Sarasota, Alba and Durban Film Festivals