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Featured Filmmaker: Maruli Sihombing

Maruli’s videos are about the social and political injustice that occurs almost everywhere in Indonesia. He mostly works with communities who suffer from violence enacted by the State or other authorities.
Maruli Sihombing

Name: Maruli Sihombing

Age: 30

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

About: Maruli’s videos are about the social and political injustice that occurs almost everywhere in Indonesia. He mostly works with communities who suffer from violence enacted by the State or other authorities. His motivation is to give these communities an outlet to express their feelings and thoughts.

Maruli’s notable films are "The Country is not for The Poor", a video about the eviction in Taman BMW, North Jakarta, Indonesia, and My Child is dead Because of Flood, a story about Jakarta flood victim in Kampung Sawah, North Jakarta, Indonesia.

Video history:

  • Ngatini, Street Vendors (PKL) Community Video, Sponsored by LSKAR, 2007
  • Kami Bangkit Bersama is about the emergency response to the Jogja earthquake, sponsored by KUK-Konsorsium Untuk Kemanusian- ICCO Netherlands, 2007
  • Gunung Kendheng is in Danger is a documentation the community’s fight against the plan to build a cement plant by PT Semen Gresik in Sukolilo Village, Pati regency, Central Java, Indonesia. The Mount Kendheng area is an area known to contain “gaming” (quicklime), one of the basic materials for cement. The majority of people living in the area are farmers and farmworkers. The plan to build this cement plant was feared to threaten the resources of local people by either polluting water sources or harming the environment (land, air, and increasing the potential for natural disaster). There are at least 144,503 farmers who depend on the 1.430 hectares of land which will be utilised for the construction of the cement plant. This video was produced independently by Maruli Sihombing in collaboration with Kolektif Affinitas and The Society Concerned of Mount Kendheng [Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendheng/ JMPPK].
  • Berantas Lapindo is about a community that fought against Lapindo Inc., Produced by Maruli S in collaboration with Affinitas-Uplink-AVideo, 2008
  • Mengadu Nasib, explores the pros and cons of local law regarding migrant workers in the Blitar region of East Java. Produced by VHR (Voice Of Human Rights), 2008.
  • Ciliwung Nyawa Kita (Ciliwung, Our Life) is about community empowerment of the Bukit Duri people who lived along Ciliwung River. They developed and arranged their ‘kampung’ (village) independently with self-help and a self-management spirit. Produced by Sanggar Ciliwung Merdeka, 2008
  • Tanah Air bukan untuk Rakyat Miskin (The country is not for the poor) shows the misery of the poor who were victims of the BMW Park eviction in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, Indonesia on August 24 2008. Out of the 65.5-hectare areas, only 26.5 hectares are occupied by urban poor. The 1126 houses inhabited by at least 4000 families were destroyed by the Jakarta local government. Since the eviction, the government has done nothing to assist the victims or issued any reports on how the people are surviving. Produced by Urban Poor Media, 2008

Recent work:

Maruli’s most recent films are The Country is not for The Poor, a video about the eviction in Taman BMW, North Jakarta, Indonesia at the end of 2008, and My Child is dead Because of Flood, a story about Jakarta flood victim in Kampung Sawah, North Jakarta, Indonesia.

Both of those films highlight the misery of poor people in urban areas, especially in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta. Poor people are often forced to be victims of ‘development’. For instance, people who lived in the Taman BMW area were evicted by the government in order to build an international sports stadium and to expand green open space in Jakarta. The people were evicted without any alternative place to live.

The second film is about Natasya, a baby who died because of hypothermia when floods occurred in Kampung Sawah, North Jakarta.

In their words:

EngageMedia (EM): Tell us who you are as a filmmaker

Maruli Sihombing (MS): I’m just an ordinary person who feels worried about the reality of life around me, and I choose to express my worry through videos and films.

EM: How did you come to video as a medium? Why do you work with the moving image?

MS: We all know that visual media is very popular in our society. The mainstream media (such as television) succeeds in keeping society only as consumers which make people alienated and not aware of their daily life.

I might not be an enormous filmmaker who mastered the art of video production, but I’m very pleased when communities turn their television off and gather in their house to watch a video that I have made or at their own video in ‘layar tancepan’ (outdoor screening) event.

I believe that we can make our own videos about our own lives, about the reality, about injustice that occurs everywhere. I feel happy when I imagine that documentary videos will be more popular than fiction films one day.

Make your own media! The community and everybody can make their own media to solve their daily problems, and that is what I’m doing right now.

EM: What are the main issues you address in your video work?

MS: I’m interested in social and political injustice that occurs daily in the community. I also appreciate all video documentaries. Even if it only documents daily life, I think it will be useful to the community.

EM: How did you come to work with these issues? Did it happen in the moment, or was it a process?

MS: For me, the very basic things about human life are justice, equal rights and equality for all people to live free. In fact, I see a phenomenon in life that there is a gap between rich and poor people.

I grew up happily and freely, but this feeling disappeared slowly along with my growing when I started to realise that many things in the world were going wrong. Since I was in elementary school, I have been interested in and questioned about wars, poor people, and such things. Now, I know that all happened because of the structure of economic and political power.

EM: Tell us about your favourite piece of video you have made

MS: I like all the videos I have made, although I’m not really confident with myself, especially about my technical skills with video making. But I realise that video making is a learning process for me and for the communities whom I work with.

It’s not about the good or bad side of the video, it’s about how to make each video a collaborative work and in the end this collaboration is useful to the communities and others.

EM: How do you think online distribution is changing the field of independent video making?

MS: Online distribution is a strategic way to campaign for an issue because in this era, the whole world can access internet. Online media gives the chance for everybody to spread their video out over the world.


EM: How do you use online tools in your work?

MS: I often use online tools to campaign and spread out my videos. It’s easier for me to gain solidarity for the issue that I want to address.

Linkage:

If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific you’d like to see featured on EngageMedia.org, drop us an email at contact[at]engagemedia.org

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