Ubud encounters: Jalanan, Jakarta buskers rock

Fresh off its Busan International Film Festival triumph, Jalanan played to a standing room only crowd on Monday night at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Daniel Ziv’s film portrays five tumultuous years in the life of street musicians Boni, Ho and Titi, as well as Jakarta, where Canadian-born Ziv moved in 1999. The charismatic and talented performers, mainly singing on buses, provide the documentary with its storylines and nearly all of its soundtrack and words. By the end of the movie, the three stars and Indonesia’s capital city have all undergone profound, and not always welcome, changes. The film is deeply moving and troubling, yet above all charming and supremely entertaining. You may well cry at the end – because you’re said it’s over

Jalanan (Streetside) made its world premiere in Busan on October 5 and won the Korean festival’s top documentary honor. The film is due for theatrical release early next year. Ziv and his team are seeking donations via FundRazr to help publicize the movie and fund bank accounts for the musicians. Jalanan vividly demonstrates how much difference a dollar or two makes in their tenuous situations.

Following the screening under the stars on the huge lawn of the Antonio Blanco Museum, the three star performers rocked the house, accompanied by Indonesian band Navicula. It was one of those nights that makes the Ubud festival so fabulous. For Jalanan and its team, Busan and Ubud look like just the start of their triumphs.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.