DE STAND VAN DE ZON - The Eye of the Day

Leonard Retel Helmrich
Netherlands 2001 | 94 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU

In 1998 a deep polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic crisis forced Pres­i­dent Suhar­to to resign after 32 years in power. This was the begin­ning of the tumul­tuous period known in Indone­sia as the Refor­masi. With a pop­u­la­tion of 200 mil­lion, Indone­sia has seen on-going polit­i­cal change, accom­pa­nied by protests, pover­ty and gen­er­al inse­cu­ri­ty. The Eye of the Day doc­u­ments these con­flicts as they play out in the lives of sixty-year-old Rumid­jah, her two sons Bakti and Dwi, and her friend Ibu Sum. Leonard Retel Helm­rich dives into her every­day life. His mobile DV camera moves towards the people, accom­pa­nies Rumid­jah in the coun­try­side as she visits her rel­a­tives, fol­lows Bakti to the stu­dent demon­stra­tions against the mil­i­tary, and trav­els with Ibu Sum to the garbage dump, where her friends col­lect refuse at night. 

While film­ing a demon­stra­tion in 1995, Helm­rich was arrest­ed and jailed as a sus­pect­ed spy, then declared per­sona non grata. He was not able to return to Indone­sia until 1997 - that same year he began fol­low­ing Rumi­jah and her family with his camera.