Past IDEAS

Cross-Currents Film Series presents: Position Among the Stars by Leonard Retel Helmrich

Monday, October 8 Monday, 4 – 6pm
Cross-Currents Film Series presents:
Position Among the Stars by Leonard Retel Helmrich
Hosted by Clay Haskell, Artist-in-Residence for Film Studies Cornerstone Art Center Film Screening Room
Free and open to the public

For 12 years, filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich followed an Indonesian family from the slums of Jakarta. This resulted in the trilogy “Stand van de zon”, “Stand van de maan” and “Stand van de sterren” (“Eye of the Day”, “Shape of the Moon” “Position Among the Stars”). Just like in the previous two parts, which received many international prizes, in the third part “Position Among the Stars” the maker shows us the underlying patterns of life in Indonesia. He presents both literally and metaphorically with his revolutionary camera work. The Indonesian Sjamsuddin family is, in a way, a microcosm in which you can recognise the most important issues of life in Indonesia: corruption, conflict between religions, gambling addiction, the generation gap and the growing difference between poor and rich.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has the largest Muslim population. Grandmother Rumidjah, a confessed Christian, has left the bustle of Jakarta to live with her friend Tumisa in the countryside. Her son Bakti, who has converted to Islam, takes care of her grandchild Tari. Bringing up his Tari is hard for him, so Bakti brings his mother back to town. However, Tari grows up in a time when young people have become much more open and she does not hide her opinions. This behaviour regularly brings her into conflict with the older generations. The problems faced by the Qatari family make the old woman decide to stay in town until Tari has finished her secondary school and can study at university. The whole family regards the bright Tari as their only opportunity of improving their own status and ever being able to escape the slums of Jakarta. Bakti’s job as district chief doesn’t earn him much money. As a result he trains fighting fish to gamble with them the side.

While the whole family does everything they can to collect enough money to pay the college fees for Tari’s study, Tari prefers to spend her time and money with her girlfriends in Jakarta’s nightlife. Her friends from secondary school also bring her into contact with the nouveau riche of Indonesia, which is miles away from her life in the slums. Will Rumidjah managed to allow her granddaughter to study in this economic crisis?

This screening of Position Among the Stars is part of a four-film series that explores aspects of the Islamic world.  Offered in  September and October of 2012 and January and February of 2013, each film has been chosen and will be introduced by a Colorado College faculty member.  After the screening, the audience is invited to linger and participate in a discussion of the film.

Host Clay Haskell holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University (1994) and an M.F.A. from American Film Institute (2000).  He was also awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in photography in 1997.  Haskellhas written screenplays for a number of Hollywood production companies; his scripts Happy Trails and The Wrong Brothers are currently in development. He shot and directed the award-winning short film The Chair and the short documentary Ascent to Mount Angel, and he documented the handover of Hong Kong in photographs as one of the first Fulbright Fellows to China. He is cinematographer of the forthcoming documentary The Hollywood Complex (2011) and director of the forthcoming documentary Mississippi Messiah (2012).

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