School of Seeing offers unique workshops for documentary filmmakers to watch, review, and discuss the artistic and cinematic strategies of selected documentaries.
In the 2021 edition, In-Docs supported by Yayasan Cipta Citra Indonesia, the Goethe Institute, and The Why Foundation, held a series of SOS in April – August 2021. A total of 20 participants from various regions in Indonesia have been invited to take part in a series of programmes together with Mentors (Lisabona Rahman, Anggraeni Widhiasih, and Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu) and Guest Speakers (Aryo Danusiri, Amerta Kusuma, and Aline Jusria).
Five selected documentaries with different topics have been watched and reviewed.
Check out the participants’ reflections on the five films below:
This review was written by Zaenal Muttaqien (a lecturer of Film Department at Politechnic of Creative Media, Jakarta), and published on Tribun Indonesia.
(Up) Normal Person
Over the Limit, directed by Marta Prus, follows the life of Rita, a Russian rhythmic gymnast. Through this film, Prus tries to portray Rita’s struggle, as an athlete, against the limit. In line with the proverbs, “no pain, no gain”, the story has a sweet ending: Rita won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. She defeated the world champion and compatriot, Yana Kudryavtseva.
That was my conclusion after watching this documentary once. When I watched it for the second time, I tried to look at the deeper side: what happened to the characters? Why does the director create this film? What ideology is in this film?
After questioning some aspects, I can see a glimpse of the director’s intention in making this film. Prus wants to show the human side of Rita. Living as an athlete, she has to follow rigid rules. On the other hand, Rita is just like the others. She needs a break, wants to chat with her boyfriend, relies on her religious beliefs, and hopes to celebrate her birthday with family and friends.
That’s how Rita deals with the pressure from her coach, Irina Viner, who often harshly judges her as someone who has no understanding of the basics of rhythmic gymnastics. In addition, the pressure also comes from her country, Russia.
Over the Limit may make some audiences think that Russia strictly treats its athletes. Others may also see that harsh comments and judgments in sports are acceptable. These opinions reflect the diversity of appreciation for this film. Such opinions intertwine with the social, cultural, and political perspectives that each audience has.
Moving to Rita’s apartment, Prus tries to focus on two things: Rita’s background and motivation. There are rows of trophies in every corner of Rita’s humble apartment. This could be a clue that Rita has dedicated her life as an athlete for quite a long time. In my perception, Rita does not come from an upper-class family. It is not directly addressed in the film, but based on Rita’s dialogue with her father, who is treated in a medical room, I assume that Rita’s family may rely on her profession as an athlete, to support their lives. This indicates Rita’s motivation to become an elite athlete, a champion.
Over the Limit is a sports documentary film that will not bring the audience into a disturbing experience, ethically or psychologically. It is different from other documentaries about murder, racism, or injustice. Such a bitter experience can be seen in Joshua Oppenheimer and Christine Cynn’s, The Act of Killing (2012), a story about the perpetrators of the judicial killings in Indonesia from 1965-1966.
I believe that Marta Prus tries to highlight Rita’s emotions. Behind the strength of a champion, there is a side that makes her more humane. She feels tired after training, energetic during a match, and depressed when she fails.
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