FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2016Contact: Laura Cohn, (610) 529-2083
CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI, a documentary about queer women in Indonesia, screens in Chestnut Hill on Friday, Dec. 2nd. (Free admission.)
Being gay can be difficult enough in the United States. In a traditional culture, it can be even harder.
CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI is the first film about queer women in Indonesia, the country with the world´s largest Muslim population. In this striking documentary, eight authentic and poetic stories are interwoven with beautiful shadow theater scenes that tell the story of Srikandi, one of the characters of the Indian Mahabharata: A little girl wants to be a boy. A bench becomes a home and a witness to life. A house does not feel like home anymore. A veil makes you reflect on religion and sexuality. A verse of a poem is like a day in your life. A love can be in between. A female stereotype can be deconstructed. A label can be changed.
These moving individual stories are interwoven with the tale of Srikandi, an ancient mythological character of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, which is still frequently used in the traditional Javanese shadow puppet (wayang kulit) theatre plays. Srikandi is neither man nor woman, moving fluidly between both genders. When she falls in love with a woman, she has to understand that the only way to survive is to become a “female warrior”. Srikandi’s tale reminds us that same-sex love and gender variety were not imported from the west, but in fact form a deep and ancient aspect of Indonesian society. Soleh (25), the puppeteer and Anik (59), the singer, are both male to female transgendered people that have worked for many years as wayang kulit performers in Surabaya, East Java. In the film, Srikandi becomes a mirror image, moving from fiction to documentary, and from the past into the present.
For two years, and under the guidance of filmmakers Angelika Levi and Laura Coppens, CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI’s creation became a truly collective act reflecting the directors’ lived experiences as queer women in Indonesia. In the movie, participants collectively worked as crew members or actresses in each other’s film, with individual stories ranging from observational documentary and concept art to personal essay. Transformation is always inscribed in the narrative, form and identity are fluid, and perspectives are shifted.
CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI (www.childrenofsrikandi.com) screens at 7:30 pm on Thursday, December 2nd, at the From Bali to Bali show and sale of Indonesian handcrafts, 8335 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia (www.frombalitobala.com). Admission is free. For additional information on the film, or on From Bali to Bala, contact Laura Cohn at (610) 529-2083 or visit our FB page or website.