Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


In this follow-up to his 2001 film The Eye of the Day, filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich again painstakingly presents Indonesia with such detail and understated emotion it radiates fervent beauty. In the largest Muslim country in the world, among a population of 240 million people, Retel Helmrich is able to find quiet moments with three generations of a Christian family amidst the bustle and texture on the outskirts of Jakarta.

The widow Rumidja is a Christian who prays regularly with her granddaughter, Tari, but practices some Muslim traditions and even graciously contributes to the local mosque for its new speakers. Rumidja's son Bakti roams their tight-knit community, living his own life, refusing to participate in Muslim traditions until he decides to marry a Muslim woman and must convert.

Finding its pace in the daily lives of the Sjamsuddin family, Shape of the Moon resonates deeply of faith and gratitude, despite the tightly woven links between Muslim religion and Indonesian politics. The vérité style creates an experiential rhythm as the camera silently weaves in and out of tunnels and water wells, and lingers delicately as characters sleep, eat, and live. But long, deliberate shots of anti-American protesters also give way to scenes of family commitment and a deep longing for home.

— Bird Runningwater

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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