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Traveling Projector’s Jakarta Finale!

After visiting 10 cities throughout Java island and conducting 13 screenings in 17 days, the Traveling Projector finally arrived back in Jakarta for its finale. Colleagues from EngageMedia were always with me at the other screenings, but this time I was organizing the screening with the help of EngageMedia’s friends in Jakarta.

The screening was held in the art studio of Dolorosa Sinaga in Pondok Gede, East Jakarta and the videos shown were mostly from the Bhinneka Tinggal Duka compilation which focuses on the issues of diversity and pluralism. These videos were picked because they are best suited for the situation in Jakarta, being a big urban city that is very diverse, but on the other hand experiencing an escalation of (violent) intolerance against anything that is considered “different”.

Besides the Bhinneka Tinggal Duka videos, also screened at the event was Payung Hitam (Black Umbrella), a film by Chairun Nissa which highlights the “Thursday protest” by presenting 2 women survivors of human rights violations who have stood in protest in front of the presidential palace every Thursday for the past 7 years.

The last film was r.i., a film by Kotak Hitam that told the story of the tragedy of 1965 from the perspective of an Indonesian restaurant founded by Indonesian political exiles in Paris.

One of the notable comments from the discussion was from an audience member who stated, “These videos should be watched by as many young people as possible because they are the hope of this nation. They should be given information and facts about this country so that they can be more sensitive and critical.”

The statement was echoed by some others present who also asked for permission to bring the videos to their communities.

Martin Aleida, a writer who was jailed for several years because of his activities in Lekra (an artists organization said to be affiliated with the Indonesian Communist Party), said that many people who were part of history rarely tell their stories through creative work such as writings or films, whereas there were a lot of good stories to tell. He added that if the person who experienced it her/himself wrote about it, the result would be much more powerful and richer than if it was written by others. Martin suggested that everyone should write their own history.

I couldn’t agree more with him. To me, this nation was laid out in one giant narration that was written by the rulers. A narration that is believed to be engineered and full of manipulation. Therefore, this “big narration” should be demolished and replaced with many small narrations that are based on honest facts. And it becomes our duty to make that happen.

The 14th screening in Jakarta served as the closing of a long road show across Java Island to bring to communities videos/films with content that was very different from what they usually watch on television or in cinemas.

For all the hard work, we think we deserve a tumpeng (a cone-shaped yellow rice dish traditionally used for celebration) to end the journey. We hope to hold the Traveling Projector again next year, making it even bigger and better. See you then!