Indonesia Calling & Geographies of Freedom
In this screening, Geographies of Freedom will be preceded by the short film Indonesia Calling.
Indonesia Calling (Joris Ivens, AU 1946) (23 min.)
A pamphlet-style film on the dock strikes that broke out in Australia in solidarity with the Indonesian Republic, following the Dutch decision to send troops and weapons to Indonesia in 1945.
On November 21, 1945, in Sydney, Australia, Joris Ivens resigned as Film Commissioner of the Dutch East Indies. He disagreed with the Dutch decision to send troops and weapons to subdue the newly proclaimed Republic of Indonesia after Japan’s capitulation by force of arms.
After resigning, and with very limited financial resources, Ivens decided to make a film about the dock strikes which were being organized in Australia in solidarity with the Indonesian Republic. The events culminated in the return of the Patras, a ship that was forced to return to Sydney Harbour by its East Indian crew after leaving port carrying weapons to the Dutch forces in Indonesia.
Ivens reconstructed this feat in this short film, in the style of an instructional pamphlet, completed in the summer of 1946. The fact that Ivens had made an “anti-Dutch” film was held against him for many years by some of his fellow countrymen.
Geographies of Freedom (Miguel Luis Peres Antunes dos Santos, CW/NL 2019) (47 min.)
A compilation of archival footage and images of the present-day landscape on Curaçao lays bare the painful historical relationship between the oil refineries of Dutch multinational Shell and the inhabitants of the Netherlands Antilles.
There’s an uncanny kind of shock value to hearing a friendly, old-timey television announcer speak of how the “simple people” of the Netherlands Antilles were rescued from “primitive living conditions” when large oil refineries appeared on the islands, ending their “deficient medical care and lack of hygiene.” This compilation of archival material centering on the neocolonial ties between Dutch multinational Shell and the islands has a knack for exposing these kinds of tensions.
The film is part of a larger collaborative project on concepts of freedom, initiated and developed by researcher Egbert Alejandro Martina and multimedia artist Miguel Peres dos Santos. The project investigates the ways in which geography, architecture, and the law produce ideas about freedom and how those ideas can order physical space. The wider research project takes in many subjects, but always returns to a central idea: that the celebrated Dutch freedom only existed, and exists, via other people’s lack of freedom—whether explicitly through slavery or the more pernicious exploitation that is part and parcel of the neoliberal world.
Documentary lovers, keep November 17 to 28 free in your calendar. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam presents its 34th edition in cinemas throughout Amsterdam, including several special programs in Eye.