Luthfan Nur Rochman is a filmmaker, writer, curator, and researcher. He is also an active member of Forum Lenteng, and social media administrator and film selector for ARKIPEL – Jakarta International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival. With a background in archaeology, his work often revolves around dissecting the layered history of various cultural occurrences. Currently, he focuses his activity mostly in Milisifilem; a group study of film production through the practice of visual experimentation, initiated by Forum Lenteng. In 2014-2015, he was also active in Lab Laba-laba, an art collective using celluloid film as their medium. His film, Ngabedahkeun (Emptying The Fish Pond, 2017), won Best Screenplay Award at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival’s CGV Movie Project 2017, and his feature project, Quicksand, was selected to be part of Jogja Future Project at the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2019.
Yuki Aditya is a cultural activist and film curator. He graduated from the University of Indonesia majoring in Fiscal Administration. He is now Festival Director of ARKIPEL and Program Manager of Media Untuk Papua Sehat Forum Lenteng. He has produced several Forum Lenteng films, such as Golden Memories (Mahardika Yudha, Syaiful Anwar and Afrian Purnama, 2018), and Om Pius, “This is My Home, Come the Sleeping” (Halaman Papua, 2019), both screened at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2019. MILISIFILEM is a platform formed by Forum Lenteng that specifically explores visual production practices, both technically and in contexts related to current socio-cultural issues. MILISIFILEM conducts regular training on visual basics across disciplines, using a participatory and collaborative approach. Participants explore various possibilities for visual experimentation, as well as building collective discipline in producing visual works. MILISIFILEM specifically involves participants in exploring artistic and cultural activism in order to face the challenges of changing times. Their production, Golden Memories (Mahardika Yudha, Syaiful Anwar and Afrian Purnama, 2018) was screened at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2018 and Yogyakarta Documentary Film Festival 2018. Their latest production, Om Pius, “This is My Home, Come the Sleeping” (Halaman Papua, 2019) was screened at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2019 and short listed for nomination at Festival Film Indonesia 2019.
Beneath the ground of Mangga Pasir Village, a poor fishing settlement on the coast of Medan, traces of one of Indonesia′s most important trade sites are found. When archeologists come to research the site, they meet with locals who fight for work on the excavation and criminal organizations that begin to take an interest in the previously hopeless village. Meijer (52), a research leader from the Netherlands, divides areas to be examined by his research colleagues. He handles the largest-sized dig box with Seno (19), an intern student. Together with seven residents, five of whom are women, and Rahmadin (59), the village head, who is totally oriented towards the orbit of his village, they dig up the land owned by Berlian (50). Rohaya (80), Berlian’s mother, who has dementia, continually pesters the excavators, but is always led back to her house. Seno, with all his naivete and idealism, tries to encourage the locals to recognize how little they know of the history of their village. Artifacts collected from the ground prompt the villagers to talk about this history, mixed with the oral history they already know. The conversation turns to debate and contention. This historical discourse also fuels the enthusiasm of the villagers for the excavation. In the heat of the excavation, Seno and his team find a skull. Rahmadin insists on publicizing the discovery of the skull so that the Tourism Office will take an interest in his village. Meijer concludes that the skull is not that of an ancient human, but a murder victim from more recent times. A mob comes to disperse the excavation. Berlian and the others in Seno’s team choose to keep their mouths closed, and invite Seno to a gathering at her house. Rohaya stops appearing.
How does a community interpret its existence as a collective; especially in Indonesia, where migration is a long, sustained project, moving from a period of regional trade, through colonialism, to the New Order? The various motives underlying migration and re-occupation of land, from disasters, war, competition for capital, and genocide, leave traces in artifacts and stories in the memories of citizens. In the midst of overlapping histories, filling the layers of the soil, there are still the people above who must face the historical consequences, whether related to them or not. Some of those people exist in small communities which continue to struggle with an ongoing history that conditions them, both economically and culturally. In this film, I try to look into the agencies that play a role in writing historical narratives, ranging from international institutions that strive to test their own post-colonialist perspectives, central researchers with state perspectives, and citizens who have their own knowledge and historic modes. Placing them all in a complicated historical vortex in an archeological dig, we will examine the motives behind and consequences of historical framing on the lives of citizens today and in the future.