A gay, Syrian refugee, Tarqam (male, 19), fleeing from the turmoil of his country, ends up in Indonesia. He disguises his sexual orientation by playing soccer, but is handicapped by local regulations. Along the way, he finds a new meaning of home.
Tarqam, a 19-year-old, Syrian refugee, pursues his dreams of finding a new home where people will embrace his identity as a homosexual. However, en route to Australia, he is stranded in Indonesia.
Tarqam′s life changes when he gains access to high-speed internet and starts watching gay porn. However, suspicion starts to grow in the surrounding community.
Therefore, soccer becomes Tarqam’s hideaway; a sport perceived as masculine by the locals and refugees alike. He develops a sense of belonging and camaraderie, especially with his teammate, Agus, a local of his age studying in Pesantren (a traditional Islamic boarding school). Their relationship blossoms as they share their stories and experiences, both longing for home.
Tarqam becomes obsessed with the idea of winning the local soccer league. However, he needs a domicile letter confirming his residential status before he can join the local team. Tarqam is faced with strict bureaucracy, language barriers, and prejudice.
Finally, Tarqam obtains his domicile letter. However, an unexpected opportunity arises for a potential placement in Australia. Driven by loyalty and a sense of responsibility, Tarqam decides to play in the final, jeopardizing his chances of leaving Indonesia. As the match unfolds, Tarqam pours his heart into playing, realizing that he has developed a deep connection with soccer as a means of self-expression.
After a triumphant victory, Tarqam questions his decision to prioritize his sense of belonging over his future. However, Tarqam is reassured by the presence of Agus that he has found a place to call home.
Tarkam is a stranger-in-a-strange-land story, highlighting the despair of refugees in transitory countries; a young man miles away from home, experiencing the prejudice of the locals and keeping his sexuality a secret. It is a complex exploration of the human heart. The contrast we are trying to create between the protagonist and his love interest will create a heartbreaking drama that will absorb the audience in the film. Visually, I want to explore shooting in 35mm because this story’s visual language requires specific textures.
Through Tarkam, the audience will witness the everyday life of an immigrant, who gains happiness from playing soccer, and falls in love with a local along the way. Stuck in a Muslim country, a young man losing his identity, closeted, and repressed beneath toxic masculinity, is a heavy matter of the human heart, and a point of view I would like to explore. It is a strong drama that delves deep into themes of love, alienation, and the simple happiness to be found in soccer.
I believe that Tarkam will contribute to Indonesian cinema through its deep exploration of the human condition. The film creates a situation of alienation in a strange land, a topic which is close to many, inviting the audience to find their true identity, despite radical religious beliefs and threatening political situations. There are many layers to be discovered; an emotional self-exploration, the longing for love, tackling both the internal and external conflicts of toxic masculinity, and questions of morality.
Moreover, a feature film presented from the perspective of an immigrant is something new for Indonesian cinema, capturing the extremes of those living under circumstances controlled by political power, and with limited access to basic human rights, such as employment, marriage, and education. There are many complex layers of drama, love, and humanity to be explored through the craftsmanship of Teddy Soeriaatmadja and the burning passion for screenwriting of Baskoro Adi Wuryanto.
Born in Tokyo, Japan on 7 February 1975, and having studied in the United Kingdom, Teddy Soeriaatmadja′s short film debut, Culik (2000), premiered at Jakarta International Film Festival 2000. His trilogy of intimacy, consisting of Lovely Man (2011), Something in the Way (2013), and About a Woman (2015), received awards for film direction and screenwriting at various prestigious film festivals. Lovely Man (2011) received Grand Prix Special Mention at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2012, was officially selected at Palm Springs International Film Festival 2012, won Best Film at Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival 2012, won Best Film and Best Director at Tiburon International Film Festival 2012, won Best Director, Best Actor and a People’s Choice Award at the Asian Film Awards 2012, was nominated for the Golden Hanoman Award at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2011, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Mezipatra Queer Film Festival 2012, and screened at Hong Kong International Film Festival 2011. Something in the Way (2013) was officially selected at Berlin International Film Festival 2013, and About a Woman (2015) received Best Indonesian Feature at Bali International Film Festival 2015, and Best Film, Director, and Screenplay at Film Festival Tempo 2015. Known for his attention to detail, stunning cinematography, and highly developed storytelling ability, Teddy is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Indonesia. His most recent film, Innocent Vengeance (2023), is currently streaming on Prime Video.
Born in Jakarta, December 16, 1976, Ruly Sjafri is a business management graduate. Ruly started his career in the film industry as an online editor/artist for various prestigious post-production houses in Jakarta, with 11 years of experience at Eltra Studio and 9 years at VHQ Post. Due to his passion for filmmaking, he has handled VFX and heavy 3D online editing for numerous films and commercials. As one of the producers with Karuna Pictures, Ruly’s concept of producing is to integrate commercial films with art house sensibilities. Ruly is one of the driving forces behind Karuna Pictures’ most recent projects.