skip to content
Ronin Films

Current releases

Jump to a category:

THEY CALL ME BABU

Year: 2019

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 80 min

Produced In: Indonesia/Netherlands

Directed By: Sandra Beerends

Language: English subtitles

Proceed with ordering this title
and for pricing information »

Alima worked as a nanny (pembantu) in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. In a poignant first-person narration, she tells her story, beginning with her decision to flee from an arranged marriage to go to work for a Dutch family, taking care of their baby, Jantje. She accompanies them for a short visit to the Netherlands. Upon her return, she lives through Japanese occupation, during which the Dutch family is put in internment camps. As the impact of the war recedes, she becomes engaged in the battle for Indonesia's independence. Through these turbulent times, the film traces Alima's development as an individual, breaking free of social restrictions to become an independent woman.

It is, above all, a universal story about the empowerment of women.

Remarkably, the film is constructed entirely from archival footage of the colonial era, World War Two, and the struggle for Indonesian independence, gathered from various archives. Over these compelling authentic images, Alima narrates her personal story, fictional but grounded in historical research.

Writer-director Sandra Beerends spent years researching stories of women like Alima - Indonesian nannies who worked for European families in the Dutch East Indies. The term babu - m'ba (miss) and ibu (mother) - became a controversial term in both Indonesia and the Netherlands, and her intention was to give voice to "all these forgotten women". For her research Sandra covered both the Netherlands and Indonesia interviewing women who worked as babu and their descendants, as well as Dutch children who had had a babu in their childhood. The choice of historical images and the composition of the story also reflect the Indonesian background of Sandra Beerends herself.

VIEW TRAILER HERE: vimeo.com/543874807

Written and directed by Sandra Beerends
Producer Pieter van Huijstee
Editing Ruben van der Hammen NCE
Music Alex Simu
Sound design and mix Mark Glynne
Voice recording and Sound editing Tom Bijnen
Voice of Alima Denise Aznam

Produced by PIETER VAN HUYSTEE FILM and NTR In co-operation with EYE FILMMUSEUM & SOUND AND VISION.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FESTIVALS

IDFA, Official Selection,
Best Documentary, Golden Calf Awards, Netherlands
Special Mention PRIX EUROPA
Sydney Film Festival, Official Selection

< Back to Search Results

Permalink: https://www.roninfilms.com.au/feature/17324