News from the Locarno Festival

Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude)

Concorso Cineasti del presente

Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude)



A lyrical evocation of life in internal exile under dictatorship, Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude) is based on the last-known events of the life of influential Indonesian poet and activist Wiji Thukul, who was forced to leave his family after being targeted by the government following anti-Suharto, pro-democracy protests in July 1997. Anggi Noen Yosep’s second feature, following 2012’s Vakansi yang janggal dan penyakit lainnya (Peculiar Vacation and Other Illnesses, which also premiered in Locarno’s Cineasti del presente) traces the poet’s escape to Borneo for eight months on a peculiar vacation of his own, moving from stranger’s house to house and changing identities. First in a constant state of fear, his features often obscured by a floppy hat, Wiji Thukul becomes acclimatized to his new, quiet way of life, but doesn’t forget his wife, Sipon, and his two children, still living in Solo, in central Java, under constant government surveillance.

A great leap forward in terms of filmmaking for Anggi Noen Yosep, the deeply affecting Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude) is one of the few fiction features to tackle the last years of the Suharto regime, the ending of which by popular protest, in May 1998, enabled newfound freedoms and set the course for a contemporary democratic Indonesia and a new generation of Indonesian filmmakers. Wiji’s still-popular, accessible poetry, which is read in voiceover in the film, is constructed from everyday reality yet speaks the truth against power, and this is precisely what Anggi Noen shows us in his film. While Wiji is in hiding, the contemplative poet continues to compose, continues living – a solitary life of heroism and independence.


Mark Peranson

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