by Brian Bergen-Aurand
Produced by the Children of Srikandi Collective, Indonesia/Germany/Switzerland, color, 74 mins., 2012. An omnibus documentary recalling the Mahabharata tale of the hero who is born a girl and becomes a boy, this essay film features nine queer women describing the paradoxes of non-normative life in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. There is no official law restricting homosexuality in Indonesia, and many areas of the archipelago nation have a history of accepting and appreciating alternative genders and sexualities. However, as these women explain through a variety of storytelling techniques, deploying various cinematic styles, their queer and questioning lives remain complicated and not without difficulty, hardship, and ambivalence. For more on The Children of Srikandi, see my extended article in the online magazine Muftah.