Sun & Moon in Indonesia: The Single-Shot Cinema of Leonard Rethel Helmreich

Beyond Borders Program IX: Indonesia | Pan Asian Series

Supported in part by a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council

Apr. 27 - 7:00 pm, Apr. 28 - 5:00 pm
Northwest Film Center
Whitsell Auditorium

About This Screening

Indonesia is one of the most populous nations on earth, and that population is among the most diverse anywhere. In order to depict and explore that diversity and its complexities, Indonesian director Leonard Retel Helmrich aims not for a vast overview but rather focuses on the daily, the specific, and the intimate. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, Helmrich’s “single-shot cinema” demonstrates where innovation establishes another level of (visual) intimacy. Shot on 35mm and built out of continuously moving long takes, both films presented in this two-night engagement, The Eye of the Day and Shape of the Moon, are set against the political unrest in Indonesia surrounding the Suharto regime. Over several years in Jakarta, Helmrich has created these two portraits of the daily life of matriarch and widow Rumidjah as she cares for her children and grandchildren while conflicts arise in the streets.

I have been following Rumidjah and her family for several years, and they have allowed me to film crucial moments of their everyday lives. From my first contact with the neighborhood of Rumidjah’s family, I became known as a person with a camera. For them, the camera in my hand is part of my identity, my body. This association has made it possible for me to capture intimate scenes devoid of camera shyness or self-consciousness, like the one involving Rumidjah's neighbor who lost her apple.

To get this close to the skin of the people, all the scenes of Shape of the Moon were filmed according to the principle of the single-shot camera, which I have been giving workshops on these last years in countries like the USA, Uganda, Indonesia and Germany. I have been developing this method by carefully comparing film history with the history of other forms of art, like painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry.
 – L R Helmrich

Program Details

Tuseday April 27th
  • The Eye of the Day (De stand van de zon
Wednesday April 28th
  • Shape of the Moon (Stand van de maan)

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