The Jakarta Post
Dialita, a choir comprising survivors of the 1965 tragedy, rehearse at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta, in December last year. (JP/Ben Latuihamallo)
The song titled “Taman Bunga Plantungan” (Garden of Plantungan) tells the story of a beautiful garden in Plantungan in Central Java, which was a camp reserved for female political prisoners.
Written by Zubaidah Nungtjik A.R, “Taman Bunga Plantungan” is routinely performed by the Dialita choir whose members are survivors of the 1965 tragedy and their relatives. The song is also set as the opening number for Rising from Silence, a 28-minute documentary about the vocal group’s journey prior to releasing their first album, Dunia Milik Kita (Our Own World, 2016).
Directed by Shalahuddin Siregar, Rising from Silence shows snippets of the lives of Dialita’s members, including their practice sessions before the launch event. Most importantly, it also shows a glimpse of Indonesia’s dark past that remains unresolved. Produced by In-Docs and premiered on NHK World in 2016, the documentary will introduce the tragedy to the younger generation through the survivors’ voices.
Founded in 2011, Dialita’s members use singing as a way to heal their trauma. The songs they perform were mostly written by its members during their time in prison, with themes ranging from simple acts of admiring nature and heartbreaking encouragements to oneself and friends to the government’s programs at the time. “Viva Ganefo”, for instance, is related to the Games of the New Emerging Forces (Ganefo) sports event held during the Sukarno era in the 1960s.
A still from 'Rising from Silence', which premiered on NHK World in 2016. (twitter.com/indocsnews/File)
Rising from Silence won the Best Short Documentary award at the 2018 Indonesian Film Festival (FFI), which was held in Jakarta in December. “It is an improvement [for us] that films about the 1965 tragedy can be included in the section that we won,” said Irawati Atmosukarto, Dialita’s manager, during a Rising from Silence screening event last Thursday at the Empu Sendok Arts Station (ESAS) in South Jakarta. “For that, we would like to thank the FFI and judges.”
The Dialita choir also features in Shalahuddin’s other film, Song for my Children. With the title taken from one of its songs, the full-length documentary was featured at Good Pitch 2 (Good Pitch Squared) Southeast Asia 2017, a platform that brought documentary filmmakers and changemakers together to highlight urgent social and environmental issues.
The choir is also planning to release its second album on Jan. 31. Taking the same route as the first album, it will once again collaborate with young Indonesian musicians. (wng)
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