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Featured Filmmaker: Ucu Agustin

Ucu Agustin uses her videos to focus on health and women's issues and she sees the job of improving people's social conditions as simply part of being human.
Ucu Agustin

Name: Ucu Agustin

Age: 35

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

About: Once a print and radio journalist, Ucu Agustin soon recognised the potential of video documentary to be a more convincing way to provide information to larger audiences.

Current Work: Ucu is currently doing research on 3 different video projects: Knocking The Door is a movie about the ‘Bill for Public Information’ in Indonesia, Thank You for Loving Me, about the destruction of Indonesian forests, and Where Did You Go My Love, a documentary about the kidnap victims of the movement for an Indonesian Islamic State.

Selected videos

* Videos available on EngageMedia

In your own words:

EM: Tell us who you are as a filmmaker.

Ucu: I consider myself a seeker of stories and I want to share these with anyone who has time to watch and listen. There are many issues behind these stories. How to retell these through audiovisual media is such a challenge. Every story needs a different approach. To share stories and to contribute to a new perception about these issues is what I hope to do as a documentary filmmaker.

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

Ucu: Since I was in college I started to write short stories and articles about women. When I graduated my short stories were widely published in several national newspapers and made me confident to become a contributor for a journalistic magazine (Pantau). After that, I also became a radio journalist for Radio 68H News Agency. But for me, the way the print media and text is presented felt less convincing as a medium. My work was always heavily edited, and that made for big gaps between the journalist and the reader. There always seemed to be a wide space between the reality that happened and the “reality” that was reported.

Without photos sometimes the news texts were also less convincing. That’s why I got interested in the audiovisual media, especially documentary. In a video documentary, we can add emotion and a strong character to make the story increasingly close and convincing. Deep research is the key to a good video documentary production so that audiences can see and feel what is really happening.

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

Ucu: I address issues of women’s rights, social justice and human rights generally.

EM: What radicalised you as a filmmaker – or how did you come to work with these issues? Did it happen in the moment, or was it a process?

Ucu: I have made movies from stories and issues that I already know about. I did not dare to make something that I had only limited knowledge of. Developing empathy and sympathy toward gender issues is certainly part of my nature. With education and my encounter with democracy, politics and problems in society, I became very aware and sensitive to seeing the injustice around me. I believe all human beings can become humane. A more equal condition between humans is, and always will be, the thing we, and me too, have to fight for on this earth. Dealing with social issues and working to improve social conditions is just a consequence of our process to become human.

EM: Many of your work’s emphasise health issues, tell us more about it.

Ucu: Conspiracy Of Silence was my first feature video documentary about health issues. Before this I had done a video documentary about HIV-positive women and the stigma they faced in my piece Kartini Animate 9.

EM: Tell us about the favourite piece of video you have made, in regards to social justice or the environment.

UA: I love Death in Jakarta, one of my early films. The film explored the inequality and gap between classes that is also carried over when someone dies and leaves this earth. I also like Ragat’e Anak which was made through a very difficult process. Several men prevented me from approaching the subject of the film which is a bout woman sex workers. This experience made me aware that there is a wall of injustice still happening around me. Consipracy of Silence also shocked and reminded me again that there is so much to be done to make justice happen in Indonesia.

EM: How do you think online distribution is changing the field of independent video making? How do you use online tools in your work?

UA: Online distribution enables independent works with no budget for distribution be able reach larger audiences. That is invaluable for an indie filmmaker like me. The audience can find my films and the film can find its audience.


If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific you’d like to see featured on, write to us today!