Eye of the Day, The

Leonard Retel Helmrich

First installment in the trilogy – followed by Stand van de Maan and Stand van de Sterren – concerning the Indonesian Sjamsuddin family during the Reformasi period. Stand van de Zon is the first portrait of the Sjamsuddin family, whom Helmrich would continue to follow in the subsequent films.

Here we get to know family members Rumidjah, her two sons Bakti and Dwi, and her grandchildren, set against the background of the Reformasi, the period of political instability that followed the departure of President Suharto. Footage of large-scale police actions against student protests alternates with scenes from the Sjamsuddin’s daily life. These two universes frequently overlap, such as during elections when Bakti joins one of the demonstrations and when her sons tease Rumidjah about her support for the governing Golkar party.

Retel Helmrich employs his familiar fluid Single Shot Cinema technique to make extended takes with no comment or questions. In this way, he records the tensions between the city and the countryside (to which Rumidjah regularly returns), between Christianity (to which the Sjamsuddins traditionally belong) and Islam (which Bakti is studying), and between rich and poor. The film’s leitmotif, however, is the cheekily grinning Bakti, who is strongly admonished by his mother and brother for his compulsive gambling and lethargy.

Credits

Director
Leonard Retel Helmrich
Country
Netherlands, The
Type
Documentary
Duration
94 minutes
Themes
family, religion
Year
2002