“Position among the stars”
One family, three generations, facing globalization in Indonesia.
Twelve years ago, Dutch filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich started filming the Shamshudin family living in a Jakarta slum. He followed them as the country shook off the rule of president Suharto (resulting in the documentary THE EYE OF THE DAY), experienced a rise of Islamic power (resulting in its sequel SHAPE OF THE MOON) and eventually nascent democracy, corruption and a widening income gap (resulting in a third a last documentary: POSITION AMONG THE STARS). The Shamshudin family seems at ease with Helmrich’s presence, who records their everyday real life situations with impressive detail, using his proprietary Single Shot Cinema method.
At the start of POSITION AMONG THE STARS, grandmother Rumidjah, openly Christian, has left the bustle of Jakarta to live in the countryside. But when her adolescent, smart Tari granddaughter turns out to be too much for her son Bakti to handle, Bakti asks his mother to return to the city’s slums to provide the girl with a sense of values and purpose in life. Tari is growing up in a time of increasing openness. The people around her are allowed, and even expected, to express their opinion about everything. Older people, accustomed to a more repressive society, are unfamiliar with democratic principles.
Indonesia is experiencing the growing pains of a Western-style generation gap, a new phenomenon in the Muslim country. The entire family sees in the intelligent Tari a chance to raise their status and escape the slums of Jakarta. Especially Bakti has high hopes for her since she is like a daughter to him. His job as neighborhood watchman doesn’t pay well, so he tries to earn some extra money by breeding fighting fish for gambling purposes. Rumidjah is pressuring Tari to finish school with honors and be the first in their family to go to university. However Tari wants what all teenagers do – mobile phone, fun with friends. Meanwhile Bakti and his wife are not getting along very well. She becomes increasingly exasperated by his laid-back ways, his collection of fighting fish and lack of attention to her. Although her family works themselves to the bone to contribute to the tuition fee of her university, Tari prefers to spend her time and money with her friends in the nightlife of Jakarta.
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