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Directed by Daniel Ziv
Documentary Feature
Indonesia | 107 min | 2014

JALANAN (‘Streetside’) tells the captivating story of Boni, Ho & Titi, three gifted, charismatic street musicians in Jakarta over a tumultuous 5-year period in their own lives and that of Indonesia. The film follows the young marginalized musicians and their never before seen sub culture, while also painting a striking, moody and intimate portrait of Indonesia’s frenzied capital city. Using the powerful soundtrack of the musicians’ original compositions to drive the film, it traces their elusive quest for identity and love in the day-to-day of a city overrun by the effects of globalization and corruption.

The initial seeds of this film are more than a decade old. In 2007 we were on assignment for GQ Magazine in Iraq, embedded with 101st Airborne Division in the “Triangle of Death.” We stayed in touch with some of those soldiers over the following years, as we all grew up, left the Middle East, and tried to figure out what it meant to come home when we were no longer the same people we had been.

Their reflections often slipped into a complicated nostalgia for Iraq, a longing muddled with anger and loss. Combat was hard, but in some ways, homecoming was harder. PTSD and physical traumas were the obvious difficulties, but there was also the challenge of readjusting to a civilian life that would always seem mundane and directionless compared to the razor-sharp singularity of life in a war zone. As one of the officers put it, “Odysseus is okay as long as he never sets foot in Ithaca. But what happens when he comes home?”

Our own experience — as journalists, photographers, and filmmakers — was never that of soldiers, but we could empathize with what it means to have been away for a long time, to have seen violence, to have learned a new cynicism and hardness but also a sense of purpose. In those late-night talks, we kept coming back to the idea of homecoming — as a process that lasts years rather than months, as a liminal space one inhabits indefinitely, as a simultaneous, overlapping yearning and anger and guilt.

To tell that story, we turned to medics, because theirs is in some ways the most extreme experience, both of war and of homecoming. They see the very worst side of conflict. Their world is populated by the wounded, the dying, and the dead. They never get to look away. But they also save lives, and their importance — their sense of meaning and purpose — is unmatched.

Through IF YOU CAN EVER GET BACK we sought to tell this harder, more complicated story of the Iraq war, honoring the complexity of our subjects, who defy the comfortable stereotypes of veterans as heroes or victims. We wanted to offer veterans an honest depiction of their experiences, and to challenge those outside of war and its effects to reconsider their assumptions. The result is a subtle, intimate portrait of three veterans’ trauma, pain, and coping. Their staggering candor challenges the polite public narratives of America’s post-9/11 wars and defies the usual postures of toughness soldiers mostly muster for one another. We offer no easy answers, only an insistence that we must reckon with the ongoing consequences of our most recent and ongoing wars. These are age-old, essential human questions — what it means to kill, the value of a life, the cost of war — with urgent implications today.

Jalanan - Poster

Jalanan - Daniel ZivDaniel Ziv

Daniel Ziv is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, non-fiction writer, urban magazine founder, editor and storytelling consultant.

Originally from Vancouver, Daniel spent much of his adulthood in Southeast Asia, where he worked as a diplomat, journalist, humanitarian aid worker, filmmaker, and author of two non-fiction books on Asian cities.

His feature-length documentary, JALANAN, screened at 65 film festivals in 31 countries, winning 12 international awards. Daniel founded and edited the popular, irreverent monthly Djakarta! – The City Life Magazine, and is author of the urban pop culture book Jakarta Inside Out, an Asian bestseller, and its follow-up volume, Bangkok Inside Out.

In between creative projects, Daniel spent a number of years working for international humanitarian aid and development agencies, including UNICEF, USAID and UN-OCHA. He also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio reporter across Southeast Asia, and as a diplomat in India.

During his time in Indonesia, Daniel was a regular speaker and moderator at the annual Ubud Writers & Readers Festival and a founding member of Hubud – Bali’s first co-working space. He also served as co-curator and on-stage host of TEDxUbud. In 2012, he was named by global PR firm Burson-Marsteller as one of Indonesia’s 10 most influential voices on Twitter, the only non-Indonesian to make the list.

Daniel holds an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of London, and is fluent in English, Hebrew and Indonesian.

In 2016 he was selected as one of 16 Yale World Fellows by Yale University, where he spent a semester researching, teaching and giving talks on campus.

Film Information

Director:  Daniel Ziv
Country: Indonesia
Year: 2014
Language: Indonesian
Runtime: 107 min


Writer: Daniel Ziv, Ernest Hariyanto
Daniel Ziv
Cinematography: Daniel Ziv
Editor: Ernest Hariyanto
Music: Boni Putera, “Ho” Bambang Sri Mulyono, Titi Juwariyah

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BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival