A film by the
Children of Srikandi Collective


Anak-Anak Srikandi | Indonesia/ Germany/ Switzerland 2012 | 73 min | 16:9 | HDV

CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI is the first film about queer women in Indonesia, the country with the world´s largest Muslim population. Eight authentic and poetic stories are interwoven with beautiful shadow theater scenes that tell the story of Srikandi, one of the characters of the Indian Mahabharata. This collective anthology transcends the borders between documentary, fiction and experimental film.

A little girl wants to be a boy. A bench becomes a home and a witness to life. A house does not feel like home anymore. A veil makes you reflect on religion and sexuality. A verse of a poem is like a day in your life. A Love can be in between. A female stereotype can be deconstructed. A label can be changed.

In CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI, participants collectively worked as crew members or actresses in each other’s film, with individual stories ranging from observational documentary and concept art to personal essay. We see that change is possible on all levels of the film: personal, political, and formal. Transformation is always inscribed in the narrative; form and identity are fluid; perspectives are shifted.

The moving individual stories are interwoven with the tale of Srikandi, an ancient mythological character of the Mahabharata and well-known Indian epic, which is still frequently used in the traditional Javanese shadow puppet theatre plays (wayang kulit). Srikandi is neither man nor woman, moving fluidly between both genders. When she falls in love with a woman, she has to understand that the only way to survive is to become a “female warrior”. This story reminds us that same-sex love and gender variety were not imported from the west but in fact form a deep and ancient aspect of Indonesian society.

Soleh (25), the puppeteer and Anik (59), the singer, are both male to female transgendered people that have worked for many years as wayang kulit performers in Surabaya, East Java. In the film, Srikandi is embodied and represented by them as an inverted mirror image where the narrative of the wayang kulit moves from fiction to documentary and from the past into the present.

CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI started with a workshop which lead to a collaborative film project reflecting the directors’ lived experiences as queer women in Indonesia and at the same time provides them with the means for filmic self-representation. Over a period of two years and under the guidance of filmmakers Angelika Levi and Laura Coppens, the filmmaking became a truly collective act.