Reviewed by Tiffany Ran
“The Blindfold,” by Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho is a heartbreaking look at three of the characters’ respective experiences with the Indonesian Islamic State (NII) and its aggressive recruitment techniques. In the film, the recruitment techniques largely target students and the country’s disenfranchised youth. Each scene, dark and somber, bears the weight of hopelessness, as a mother runs out of time trying to find her daughter, a new NII recruit. Once absorbed into the system, recruits have little chance to escape. As portrayed in the film, the youth are not only blindfolded upon initiation, they’re also muted throughout the film.
More astounding than the characters’ experiences is the process Nugroho took to complete the film. Nugroho based the narrative of the film upon the research of the Maarif Institute, Indonesia’s leading moderate Islamic organization. To ensure safety and the success of the film, Nugroho completed the principal photography in nine days using primarily non-professional actors. The result is a rare look into the tragic consequences of religious radicalism on the citizens in Indonesia.
“The Blindfold” showtimes:
June 4 at 4 p.m. at AMC Pacific Place 11
June 5 at 7 p.m. at AMC Pacific Place 11
“Bunohan: Return to Murder”
Reviewed by Jason Cruz
In “Bunohan,” three estranged brothers return to their hometown of Bunohan, a poverty-riddled swamp of a town bordering the Thailand and Malaysian border in what is known as the Malaysian “badlands.” Fittingly, Bunohan is also the Malay word for “murder.” Adil, a young Muay Thai boxer, escapes a Thailand “match to the death” through the help of friends. As a result, Ilham, an assassin and Adil’s brother, is charged with the task of tracking down Adil and finishing him. They find themselves in their hometown where past demons continue to haunt them. The third brother, Bakar, returns to Bunohan from his job as a teacher in the city to care for their sick father. However, Bakar’s true intentions are soon revealed.
Each brother is greatly affected by their return and each recalls why they decided to leave. The film, which does not feature a female speaking role until towards the end, combines mysticism with symbolism, as it tells the downtrodden story of each brother. The film features gratuitous violence as many throat slashings take place. Bunohan also makes a statement about the sacred nature of the undeveloped land of the area and what it means to its people in a struggle between the past and future.
June 1 at 9:30 p.m. at AMC Pacific Place 11
June 3 at 11:30 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
“Valley of the Saints”
Reviewed by Tiffany Ran
Gulzar, a young Kashmiri boatman, plots to run away with his best friend as war and peril unfold in their hometown near a village on Dal Lake. Gulza meets a female scientist named Asifa, who risks military curfew to study the water quality in Dal Lake. As Asifa’s research reveals that the ecology of the lake that Gulzar treasures is in as great a peril from the pollutants as Kashmir is from war, Gulzar is forced to rethink his plans.
What “Valley” lacks in closure, it makes up for in the lyrical mysticism of the region portrayed through the songs, culture, and legends in the film. Rich colors and lush landscapes are woven into a silent, somber reality — a waiting game the characters must endure while under military curfew.
Meanwhile, the mythical lake remains the vehicle that brings movement and exchange between characters. The lack of closure, though discomforting, carries out a pervasive uncertainty present throughout the film as none of the characters are equipped to stop change. (end)
“Valley of the Saints” showtime:
June 3 at 6 p.m. at Kirkland Performance Center