The killing of six generals and one middle-ranking officer of the Indonesian Army on October 1st, 1965 was the pretext of the 1965 Tragedy. The military coup coincided with massive propaganda, where facts and data were blacked out. The press was controlled by the military news bureau, Berita Yudha, and other newspapers were banned. History became banal as it was delivered and diverted by the New Order regime.
I'd like to use Antonio Gramsci’s term, "cultural hegemony", which is equated with the "strength" of a particular regime. In this context, the hegemonic position is not only demonstrated by the ability of the New Order in the control of every public space, but also through practices of political and cultural deviation, including in education.
This hegemony exists not only in text books, but also in audiovisual media. For example, every year, all students across the country are required to watch a film about the coup d’état by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), The film, 'Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI', was directed by Arifin C. Noer and is categorized as 'documentary-drama' by analysts.
It highlights the torture of seven Army Generals by communists, and everything from the script to the visual dialogue portray communism, communists, the women’s movement (Gerwani) and all other related communities as being wicked and evil. By broadcasting the film on national television on the every September the 30th, generations born during the New Order period would only be able to perceive the idea of communism through its narrative.
You can watch the four parts of Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI below, and compare it with 'Shadow Play', a highly objective film on the event by created by independent film group Offstream, after Indonesia regained its democracy in 1998.
Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 1) Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 2) Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 3)
Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 4)
Shadow Play: Indonesia's Years of Living Dangerously
In late August, one of the participants of Camp Chindwin, our Southeast Asia Video Camp, Jessie from EarthRights International invited EngageMedia to their workshop to run a session on effective video advocacy.
Finding serious flaws relating to land rights, resettlement and environmental protection in Myanmar, EarthRights set up two schools - EarthRights School Mekong and EarthRights School Myanmar. They did have a Land Rights training workshop this year and last year, but what I attended was second of 3 documentary filmmaking workshops they are holding this year to train young activists from Kayah, Shan, Mon, and Rakhine states, as well as Yangon Division.
This workshop covered an introduction to human and environmental rights, campaigns, and storytelling for advocacy and I facilitated a dialogue leading up to it, focusing on how to make advocacy videos and what the goals and impact of films can be.
After the participants and I played some games to warm up, we started screening a video from the Philippines, 'Pangarap sa Buhay'. This film has a strong message delivered in a very simple way, and gives a example of a good advocacy video. We then discussed how advocacy videos provide a dynamic and inventive platform to tell your story and about your world.
I then shared tips on producing community video and we watched a series of community videos from the Southeast Asian region. After watching each video, we discussed them in groups based on three questions: What is the main message of the video? What is its target audience? How can we generate our own story ideas like this?
The participants pondered on the last question and shared different story ideas based on the Myanmar context. For example, when we screened 'Masters of our Land' from the Papuan Voices 2 collection, we talked about similar land grabbing issues in Myanmar and the results were amazing. They were inspired and came up with various story ideas to highlight land grabbing issues and we discussed how to develop those ideas step by step.
One of the participants asked during the discussions. "We often have to work on issues that are considered sensitive by the government, so how can we protect ourselves when working on such topics?". A conclusion that we arrived at is to "find a balance in your film".
I shared that I love being a filmmaker and my passion for fieldwork and the outdoors carries me through any hurdles I may face. But news of tragedies every year keep me asking, “How can this still be happening? What is the balance, and should there be a balance in what I present? How can I find joy in being a documentary filmmaker in Myanmar with all the challenges that filmmakers face from the state and public?" I continue struggling to find the answers to some of those questions.
The day ended with my presentation on mobile video production. Documentary film making is starting to become popular in Myanmar, and we can start producing short films even on mobile devices and disseminate them on social media platforms. I shared some examples of good films made on mobile devices and also shared mobile editing apps like Splice and StoryMaker.
Both video advocacy and community video are powerful methods through which filmmakers are able to more creatively express and share their ideas, which are essential components for learning and growth in Myanmar's political climate. The best way to foster creativity is to show audiences how much the human mind is capable of imagining. That's something I learned from the EarthRights workshop in Myanmar!
An alumni of Papuan Voices, Martha Langowuyo has been active in SKP Jayapura as a media volunteer for the past several years while finishing her studies at Cendrawasih University. During the program, she has gained various technical and non-technical skills from our staff and also from a mentor who was assigned to assist Martha in video production.
We conducted training in camera handling by shooting and recording daily activities in some of the major streets in Yogyakarta. After shooting, we evaluated all the footage and discussed on how to improve it. We also combined aspects of journalism within the video production framework, where Martha learned about journalism ethics, informed consent, and planning and conducting an interview.
Even since the application process for the residency, Martha had already outlined her issue of interest and video production plan. She was keen to produce a video on access to education for Papuan women, using the case study of Papuan students in Yogyakarta.
On the first day, we discussed how her idea could be developed further and worked on a more detailed production plan which lasted up until her return to Jayapura at the end of the month.
During her stay in Java, Martha also visited six NGOs and video community organizations. Apart from these visits, she was also exposed to events such the Kamisan demonstrations and learned about story development from more seasoned filmmakers in Jakarta.
She also conducted some interviews delving deeper into social and gender-related issues in Papua. Her interviews with prominent womens rights activist, Ita Natalia, and rural researcher Yando Zakaria are also available on the EngageMedia site.
Near the end of her residency, Martha completed a short documentary on Papuan issues and conducted a public screening of the film, which was attended by over 50 people. The post-screening discussion focused on the role of women in Papua and how the militarization of Papua affects the social and economic lives of ordinary people. You can view Martha's video, 'Bangkitlah dan Belajarlah!', with English subtitles below.
Martha Langowuy's residency was sponsored by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, through its Harry Burton Memorial Fund. Reuters cameraman Harry Burton was murdered by pro-Taliban militants in an ambush in Afghanistan in November 2001 while on secondment from his Jakarta base. The fund set up in his memory aims to support the training of journalists, with priority given to camera operators, from the remoter parts of Indonesia.
In August, Myanmar faced one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, with four of its states being declared natural disaster zones by the United Nations. At least 27 people have died and over 156,000 people are displaced, many losing their homes and an entire season of crops.
Many dams and reservoirs were left overflowing, and communities around the country have been cut off from trade, affecting the lives and livelihoods of a reported one million people. Citizens started the #SaveMyanmar campaign to help victims of the flooding in various ways.
We collaborated with the Myanmar Youth Filmmaker Network at a fundraising event on International Youth Day in Yangon, where youth from across the country sold food, arts and crafts, and holding lift-a-tons to raise money. Our team sold documentary DVDs, helped take promotional pictures for people who wanted to join the campaign and shared some video editing software and apps.
I brought DVDs of our Crossroads and Papuan Voices collections and Camp Chindwin participants, filmmakers Thet Oo Maung, Lei Lei Aye and Soe Arkar Tun sold their own films. A novelist and filmmaker Mal Khaing and Myanmar film celebrity Su Aw Chel visited and joined in our event.
By the end of the event, we sold almost 60 DVDs and donated the proceeds to the Youth Day organizers. As water levels started significantly receding this month, work has begun to aid in rebuilding homes and restarting lives.
In July 2015 more than thirty leaders in the Video for Change field gathered in Tepoztlán, Mexico, for the second global meeting of the Video4Change Network. The Video4Change Network is a global consortium of non-profits advancing the use of video and technology for social change. The event convened organisations from India, Argentina, Kenya, Malaysia, the US, Guatemala and more for a week of strategic conversations, knowledge sharing and network building. The network is made up of more than a dozen organisations, primarily with a focus on short-form, citizen video from the 'global south'.
Hosted by SocialTIC, EngageMedia and WITNESS, the week began with a stock take of the activities and objectives of each organisation, many of whom hadn't seen each other since the previous convening in Indonesia in 2012. Discussions ensued regarding emerging technologies such as live streaming, the state of the Video for Change movement in different regions, mapping training pedagogies, and much more.
We examined existing projects within the network, such as the impact initiative, and explored future strategy and activities of the network, coming up with dozens of project ideas to grow the Video for Change field.
Given the event's location in Latin America there was a particular emphasis on developing relationships with regional groups. Approximately a third of the organisations present were from Latin America, including Ojo al Sancocho from Colombia, Cine en Movimiento from Argentina, and Red Tz'ikin from Guatemala. They brought a wealth of community cinema knowledge, as well as a series of concepts including 'decolonizing the frame' and 'audiovisual sovereignty', which we explored through the week. A two day Latin America Video4Change meeting followed the global convening.
We wrapped the global convening with a fantastic public day in Mexico City that included dozens of workshops, and a public forum at the Centro de Cultura Digital.
We are excited about the next stages of the network and the contribution such a body can make to the broader field. Having the opportunity to share challenges and knowledge, and to collectively develop ideas with our peers has been a hugely valuable experience.
It was a lovely Friday evening and people started to gather at the EngageMedia office in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for a screening of five films from West Papua. One of the films (featured below) was produced by Martha Langowuyo, who has been with us for one month as a participant of our new residency programme.
Over 40 people of different backgrounds and nationalities came out to the screening, including many young Papuans who are currently studying in Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is fast becoming a hub for students from the Eastern part of Indonesia as the city has a combination of high education standards and a rather low cost of living. It's a good mix, I would say.
After screening Martha's film, we also played some videos from both volumes of Papuan Voices. The short but intense showing of Papuan content almost immediately started a heated discussion on the political and social affairs of the beautiful land. Aside from the larger political situation, one issue that got attention was the rising case of violence against women in Papua.
After many requests from our guests, we played the selection of videos for a second time that night. We were really glad that so many people came to our event, packed out office and participated actively. We hope they would share and continue these discussions everywhere they go.