They Call Me Babu

  • Sandra Beerends
  • Netherlands
  • 2019
  • 78 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
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Alima worked for a Dutch family as their babu—nanny—in the former Dutch East Indies. In voice-over, we hear the story of how she came to the family to care for their baby and accompanied them for a short stay in the Netherlands. Upon her return, she lived through Japanese occupation (during which the Dutch family was put in internment camps) and the battle for Indonesia’s independence. Throughout these years, Alima never let go of her dedication to the child, but at the same time remained loyal to her lover Riboet, an independence fighter.

Told from Alima’s perspective, the film is more than an account of changing relationships in Indonesia: first and foremost it’s about Alima’s development as an individual, breaking free of social restrictions to become an independent woman. Using unique, never-before-seen images from various archives in the Netherlands and Japan, it tells a universal story about the empowerment of women. 

Credits

  • 78 min
  • black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Indonesian
Director
Sandra Beerends
Production
Pieter van Huijstee / Pieter van Huystee Film
Editing
Ruben van der Hammen
Sound Design
Mark Glynne, Tom Bijnen
Music
Alex Simu
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IDFA history

2019
World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

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IDFA history