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The lonely girl and the giraffe

Indonesian film “Postcards from the Zoo” has been selected for the final competition at the Berlin film festival. The film narrates the story of a girl who is abandoned by her father and grows up in a zoo.

The title of the film is “Kebun Binatang”, in Bhasa Indonesia, the Indonesian language. It means “Postcards from the Zoo.” In an interview for the Berlinale, Edwin, the director of the film, explains why he chose to use the word “postcards” in the title. He says, “I suppose the word ‘postcards’ comes from the way I perceive cinema. I enjoy fragmentary films that are able to break free from their own structures, films that allow the viewer to exit the narrative, invoking or triggering memories of personal experience.”

The giraffe from Ragunan

“Postcards” is the story of Lana, a child who is abandoned by her father and left in the care of a giraffe trainer in a zoo. Lana grows up among animals, visiting and feeding them in their enclosures.

Talking to DW, Ladya Baharrizki, who plays the role of Lana in the film, elaborates on her role in the film. She says, “The name of the zoo is Ragunan. In Ragunan, there is only one giraffe. The giraffe’s situation is similar to that of Lana because she was also abandoned by her father when she was little.”

Before she began her career in acting, Ladya worked as a zoo assistant in Jakarta for nearly five years. For her role, Ladya had already made friends with “Riko” the giraffe in Jakarta. “He still lives alone in Jakarta,” she says. For Edwin, the giraffe has its own significance. “Its shape and the way it walks are so dreamlike,” he says, adding that he feels it looks like a “creature from dreamland that has lost its way in the world.”

“Out of place”

Loneliness has a special place in “Postcards.” That is why director Edwin has used this emotion along with “out of place” costumes, like cowboys and Indians to emphasize the difference between Lana, the animals, the life in the zoo and life in Jakarta city.
For Lana, physical touch is the one experience she shares with her father and unconsciously, she always longs to be touched,” says Edwin in his synopsis for the movie. That is why Lana falls in love with a magician who comes into the zoo. “He takes a ball of red light and swallows it; he creates fire and brings it back by touching Lana.”

Soon after, Lana leaves the zoo and makes her entry into urban life. One day, the magician vanishes into thin air while performing one of his tricks. Lana is abandoned once again and looks for solace and human contact in her job as a masseuse. The story comes full circle with Lana returning to the zoo and stroking her beloved giraffe.

Edwin explains, “When someone’s raw, deepest personal longings are touched like that, that’s when they fall in love. It defies any logic or explanation. They follow this feeling of love instinctively, round and round until it ends, like a satellite.”

Edwin’s novel way of looking at love and longing have earned his creation a place among the top films vying for the Golden Bear at the Berlinale. His leading actress, Ladya, is also excited about being a part of the premier at the festival. “I just feel very lucky to be here,” she says.

Author: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Editor: Arun Chowdhury


17.02.2012 | 10:16