The children in Tiom Valley
Although it is marketed as a kid's film, this film presents inter-ethnic conflict that is hard to digest.
Di Timur Matahari
Director: Ari Sihasale
Screenwriter: Jeremias Nyangoen
Cast: Lukman Sardi, Laura Basuki, Ringgo Agus Rahman, Ririn Ekawati, Michael Jakarimilena, Simson Sikoway, Abetnego Yigibalom, Frisca Waromi, Razz Manobi, dan Maria Resubun.
Producer: Alenia Pictures
Out of breath, Mazmur enters the class. Clad in a white-and-red uniform, the child informs his classmates: "My friends, the substitute teacher hasn't arrived," he says.
In fact, there has not been a teacher for six months. Every week Mazmur (Simson Sikoway) goes to the old airstrip to wait for the arrival of a flight in the hope his teacher will be there.
Mazmur lives in a hamlet in the interior region of Papua. It lies in Tiom Valley, Lanny Jaya regency. He has four close friends. They are Thomas (Abetnego Yogibalom), Yokim (Razz Manobi), Agnes (Maria Resubun), and Suryani (Frisca Waromi), who have great zeal for study.
The difficulty in receiving formal education among children in the remote parts of Papua was once presented by Alenia Pictures in the film Denias, Senandung di Atas Awan (Denias, Singing Above the Clouds, 2006). The same problem has again been featured in its newest picture, Di Timur Matahari (The Suan in the East). This time Ari Sihasale, producer and director, also explores inter-ethnic conflict in the region. He collaborates with Jeremias Nyangoen as the screenwriter.
The film's main theme, however, is the frequent disruption of the region's peaceful existence because the ethnic communities in Tiom Valley still often choose war to settle conflicts.
In this movie the inter-ethnic tension is triggered by the murder of Mazmur's father, Blasius. Refusing to accept the death of his older brother, Alex is determined to take revenge. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he says.
An inter-ethnic war breaks out. The almost two-hour flick becomes filled with a number of terrifying scenes such as killings, the burning of honai (communal houses of Papua) and graphic depictions of fingers being cut off.
The story contains diverse issues that range from shifting local customs, culture, minimum government concern over educational matters, and resistance to technology. Ari also touches on the question of separatism through the character of Vina (Laura Basuki), the woman from Jakarta, Blasius's sister-in-law. "No wonder they want to separate from Indonesia; prices are high," she remarks.
By Nunuy Nurhayati
No. 45/12, July 03, 2012