Dokumenter Musik – Jalanan {Film Review}




A film about Indonesia, street music, love, prison, politics, sex, corruption,

rice fields, globalisation and heart-ache.

Wednesday 6th August 2014

I excitedly headed off to see ‘Jalanan‘ {Streetside} – a music documentary created by Canadian writer/filmmaker/producer Daniel Ziv & Editor Ernest Haryanto; Australia’s premiere of the documentary and a Q&A session at the Melbourne International Film Festival {MIFF}…and although I had high expectations of this documentary, as I had viewed the trailers and read some reviews {Jalanan won Best Documentary at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea in 2013} …my expectations were highly exceeded.

Jalanan, the film, takes the viewer on a journey to Indonesia’s sprawling capital city; contemporary Jakarta and its underground world, through the eyes {and the lives} of three street musicians; Boni, Ho & Titi {Boni Putera, Bambang ‘Ho’ Mulyono and Titi Juwariyah}; as we follow them through the camera lens over the course of nearly five years! {and it was almost two years in production!} The three main characters are musicians {who write their own music and lyrics…these are true musicians!} and make a living by busking on public transport, jumping on and off buses around Jakarta. Three individuals with unique music talents and styles…and yet they were all thread together to create a wonderful music journey, through the soundtrack of the film.
{Note to self: I must buy the soundtrack!}

Jalanan takes you on a roller-coaster ride along with the three characters as they experience the ups-and-downs of life’s journey. Their stories were heartbreaking at times and yet truly endearing…I felt warmth towards them straight away…they were real people, struggling with real issues and yet their positivity towards life and their strive for a better future was truly inspirational and an uplifting journey for all.

The raw honesty of the stories interwoven within this film is really quite magical…it made me laugh…and it made me cry…and it made me think a lot.

Boni has lived on the streets since he was a young boy, he took us on a journey to his “castle” where he has lived with his wife for the past ten years. They lived under a concrete bridge and over an open sewer, a broken water pipe their only source of running water. Their home, under that bridge, is not far from a luxurious shopping mall, where Boni wanders through and uses the toilet. He discusses the simple yet totally understandable philosophy of why everyones ‘shit’ mixes all together…from rich people, poor people, Westerners, tourists…and yet why can’t we mix? It kind of got me thinking…it was a very simple philosophy and yet so true…why can’t we all mix and live happily together {just like our ‘shit’}?

Ho encaptures our hearts with his simple, honest approach of searching for love and someone to share his life with. However, scolds his girlfriend’s use of ‘Insha Allah‘ {God willing}, stating; “I am not an Arab. I am Indonesian.” – a loud statement of what Ho strongly believes in. When Ho is arrested for busking on the street, he writes a song for his inmates; “…but it is still unsafe – especially when you busk in the streets. We are Indonesians but treated as aliens.” Ho states several phrases which cut right to the core; “I love Indonesia, but does Indonesia love me back?” and he refers to himself as a nail hammered into steel – “It won’t go in, but it gets bent out of shape.”

And, Titi, a mother of three children, is a main focus point for the story. I thought she was awesome from the beginning of the film when we saw that she left the Muslim family home she was living in, wearing a jilbab {a Muslim head scarf} and walked around the corner to a small food stall to pick up her guitar and she casually whipped off her jilbab and shoved it in the side pocket of her guitar case and headed off for the day to make some earnings busking. I loved this…it spoke so many words to me about what sort of character Titi is, and she is definitely determined, strong, brave and honest. Titi’s drive to achieve more in life, and her steps forward to achieving her dreams is totally admirable and we walk along side Titi as she begins to take action to change her life and turn her dreams into realities.

The film also took me on a journey straight back to my own personal visits to Jakarta and living extendedly in Java. I started to remember how I would just love it when I jumped on a bus travelling to some small town or new city I had on my ‘to-visit-list’, and a busker would also jump on…I always felt it made the journey so much more fun…who doesn’t want live music whilst travelling?…This is entertainment at its best!

But I also remember how many passengers would ignore the buskers, they would look straight through them as if they weren’t even there, even though they would be belting out a tune and strumming their guitar as loud as possible. How does one ignore a human being who is singing loudly in your face? It hurt somewhere deep inside my heart that people could not even have eye contact, let alone a smile or a laugh with a busker who is pouring their heart out to you through music?

Jalanan is extremely philosophical and so creative in many aspects, and most importantly it shares an open and honest account of one of Indonesia’s biggest challenges, that is; inequality, something that has always slapped me in the face at times with its rawness, when I am in Indonesia. The divided gap between rich and poor is drastic and shamefully obvious. I commend Daniel Ziv, as through his work, he showed the utmost respect towards the musicians and Indonesia as a developing country.

This is a particularly important factor for filmmakers to realize, as without paying respect to the people and things that are helping you to make a film, it won’t be successful. So, when people are learning about the film industry, with online schools like Friends in Film, more emphasis will be placed on what types of practices are effective and which aren’t. To make a hard-hitting film like Jalanan, these will need to be portrayed in a certain way, and learning about the film industry will be a good example of what they need to do to make that happen.

I’m sure that viewers of ‘Jalanan’ have thought twice about how they treat people, particularly those that have fallen through the cracks…those that are marginalised by the harsh realities of a large, sprawling city like Jakarta {and many other cities around the world}. Behind every face is a story; a story of hope and survival in a crazy world.

“Personal stories can cut right through cultures” – Daniel Ziv

Check out more about ‘Jalanan‘ and read about Daniel Ziv’s plight to; ‘Help give Jalanan’s Musicians a Home’.

P.S. Mbak Titi – when are you releasing a CD? … I can’t wait to buy it! 😉

Have you seen Jalanan? Did you love it as much as I did?

What are your opinions about this music documentary?

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