«Yuni» by Kamila Andini

I’m like a battery. I watch films almost as often as I charge my phone, meaning every day. And since my Film Studies at university, I got the habit of writing about what I’ve seen. My professor said we should always write notes whilst or after watching a film, in order to not forget our thoughts and observations during the screening.

«Yuni» is a slow film and I was struggling not to fall asleep. I even started chewing gum to stop me from napping. Despite its slow pace, it’s a very intense film and the topic is heavy: Yuni, a pretty and intelligent school girl keeps getting proposals from older men. Her teacher says she has good chances of getting a scholarship but for that she needs to be unmarried and at least third best of her class. Yuni has a thing for a boy from her school, who sells prepaid internet card for smartphones.

The name Yuni seems to be related to the month of June. In german it’s pronounced exactly the same and if I’m not mistaken even in Indonesian. The climate is tropical in Indonesia and we can imagine how much the girls must sweat under their veils. The islamic religion seems to be everywhere around Yuni and gaining power. There’s even an attempt to introduce “virginity tests” in schools and suspend girls, who aren’t virgins anymore.

Soft electronic sounds highlight the suppressed emotions of Yuni and her girlfriends. Forced to marry older men at a young age, closing themselves off from university studies and the possibilities these could bring. For the families it’s more interesting to see their daughters married than leave for studies. In that sense the youth of Indonesia seems trapped in a conservative, islamic society, a bit like the one in Iran.

But where there’s youth, there’s always hope. And in that sense we see Yuni and her crush going to a club. We feel the pulse of a generation, who actually wants to break free from heavy family ties and duties. Kamila Andini studied sociology and arts in Melbourne, Australia. She left her home country and is now a successful filmmaker. Her newest film «Before, Now & Then» (2022) is or was shown in cinemas in Geneva and Lausanne these days.

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