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- 21.5.2012 8:00 -

Single Shot Indonesia

Position among the stars

For more than 10 years, Dutch director Leonard Retel Helmrich has been returning to the homeland of his parents to observe and record the transformation of Indonesia in the turbulent years of economic and cultural globalization. The Dafilms portal presents all of the three parts of his famous documentary trilogy, including the latest film Position among the Stars. On the backdrop of the tension in Indonesian society, Helmrich’s camera follows the Sjamsuddin family living their daily lives of work and worries, mutual love and hatred.
Leonard Retel Helmrich is renowned among filmmakers for his original technical approach to documentary filmmaking. Constructed by Helmrich himself, his special camera technology enables a smooth and unusually flexible movement of the camera within a single shot. The director even provided an aesthetic justification for his “toy” in his film style manifesto entitled “Single Shot Cinema”. Helmrich is convinced that the possibility of changing the angle or size of the shot without the necessity of editing actually represents the principle of the “cinéma vérité” taken to perfection, achieving maximum film realism. Helmrich’s ideal is to become an “all-seeing” observer of the situation occurring in front of him. Such an observer can decide freely and independently from any physical limitations from which angle he wants to approach the given situation. The “unlimited” movement of the camera through space definitely is a dream of most filmmakers; moreover, within the standards of documentary filmmaking (without the use of stage-managed scenes and post-production tricks), Helmrich has managed to achieve remarkable results.
However, it is not the impressive camera “performance” (sometimes drawing too much attention and thus becoming an end in itself) but the universal language spoken by Helmrich’s works that represents the main force of his film style. However exotic the Indonesian culture may seem to the spectators, Helmrich’s sensitive depiction of the life of seventy-year-old Rumidjah, her two adult sons and her granddaughter is based on themes that are close to all people around the world.

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