Trilogi Jawa

Victor Jaschke

Still: „Riding My Tiger – Trilogi Jawa III“ (2014)






The three films of Ascan Breuer’s TRILOGI JAWA address topics of extreme relevance: How do marginalized and poor people survive in the middle of the highspeed-modernisation, even though they don’t participate in it? How do they make their lives livable? Which possibilities do they have for their own emancipation? How do they organize themselves? And which role do traditions and myths play in a society that is ever more rapidly pushing towards modernity? His films are also a search for his own roots in the home-country of his mother: Indonesia.

Over several years JAKARTA DISORDER (2013, 88 min) observes the development of the Indonesian civil society which leads to the election of Joko Widodo as the country’s new president. The documentary tells the story of two courageous women in Jakarta who fight for the participation of the urban poor in the young democracy. The rapidly growing housing development leads to the displacement of many traditional living quarters. Together with their friends, the two women decide to fight against this injustice and to engage in the currently running presidential elections.

In the trilogy’s third part, RIDING MY TIGER (2014, 42 min), the filmmaker Ascan Breuer searches for the spirit of a tiger said to have haunted the house of his ancestors on Java. Locating this spirit is no easy matter, as it must be summoned in a respectful manner. A number of stories have grown around it, personified as the family´s grandfather, as the ghost of an old man who resides in the garden and finishes off thieves and poor craftsmen. It also recalls the resistance against Dutch colonialism and the conflicts that played out during the Cold War. By using the old art of Javanese shadow puppetry, Wayang Kulit, Breuer creates a new genre of documentary: a „magical documentary“.

The Short-Film PARADISE LATER (2010, 14 min) addresses the side-effects of the fast development of the Megacity Jakarta: In the outskirts and the spaces “in between” of a rapidly expanding metropolis, the film shows the people who are living in profound poverty and subsist on the refuse of an expanding consumer society.

The films of TRILOGI JAWA have been presented all over the globe, among others at the Berlinale, the Cannes Film Festival, the Thessaloniki BiennaleVisions du Réel, and RAI Film Festival as well as on tour in Indonesia, in Thailand, and across the Highlands of Kyrgyzstan (more). They were also shown at the opening night of Frankfurt Book Fair 2015. The films have been awarded the „Eine Welt Filmpreis NRW 2015″, the „Video Art Award“ at FSFF 2018, and won „Best Film“ at Bir Duino – Bishkek Int. Doc. Film Festival 2014.

Trilogi Jawa I–III



FILMDIENST on Paradise Later:

„A sullen river, fast food packaging floating on it’s surface, passing rubbish-strewn banks, miserable cottages and trees with plastic hanging down from them like lametta, and cheerfully waving children and fishermen tossing their nets into the sludge. A voice from the off tells about a Paradise Later adapted from a text-destillate of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The critique of globalisation and meditation by Ascan Breuer fascinates through incisiveness and poetry and makes the world-wide upcoming apocalypse vaguely perceptible. The film was one of the best contributions of the current short-film-program by German Films in Cannes.“

THE JAKARTA POST on Jakarta Disorder:

Jakarta Disorder explores the marginalization of the city’s poor and how they resist exclusion from economic development by developing their political knowledge. The documentary shows how the city’s poor, regardless of their education, can realize their rights as citizens and to how to use politics to their advantage. The wit and political knowledge displayed by the urban poor as depicted in Jakarta Disorder shows that political rights not only belong to the educated and established segments of society but also to those at its margins.“


„The story of Ascan Breuer‘s physical/psychic journey to track down the origins of his family. He is a young German citizen exploring the island of Java along with its culture, traditions and ghosts. The beginning of the film, reminiscent of an intimate diary, soon gives way to a competely different mood. The journey becomes research. The research turns into investigation. Tracks become clues to be deciphered. First-hand accounts are testemonies to be pieced together, like scattered fragments of an uncertain story that is full of gaps. This documentary offers two elements that are usually alien to the genre: suspense and preternatural. Therefore, the viewers are plunged in a film that is also an actual paranormal thriller. Psychological and ethno-anthropological materials are rewritten according to the forms of cinematic narration of mise-en-scéne. Therefore, emotion (pathos) becomes style and culture becomes a (ghostly) character.“


Festivals & Shows

The films of TRILOGI JAWA have been shown at:

  • Berlinale – Int. Filmfestspiele 2010

  • Festival de Cannes, 2010

  • Hongkong Int. Film Festival 2010

  • Edinburgh Int. Film Festival 2010

  • Leeds Int. Film Festival 2010

  • L’Alternativa Barcelona 2010

  • Brief Encounters Bristol 2010

  • IndieLisboa 2010

  • Drama Int. Short Film Festival 2010

  • Jihlava Int. Documentary Festival 2010

  • Planet in Focus 2010, Toronto Int. Environmental Film Festival („Honor. Mention“)

  • Int. Videofestival 2010, Bochum

  • Diagonale 2010 & 2013 & 2014, Graz

  • Exhibition: Videonale 2011, Bonn

  • Dokfest 2011, Prizren

  • Iowa City Int. Doc. Film Festival 2012

  • Exhibition: Berlinische Galerie, 12×12-Videolounge, Sep/Oct 2013 (single show)

  • This Human World 2013, Vienna

  • International Exile Film Festival 2013, Goethenburg

  • Watch Docs – Int. Human Doc Film Festival 2013, Warsaw

  • Silver Eye Award 2013 & 2014, Praha

  • Visions Du Réel 2014, Nyon

  • CineMigrante – Int. Film Festival Buenos Aires 2014

  • Bir Duino – Int. Doc. Film Festival Bishkek 2014 („Best Film“)

  • Int. Festival for Peace, Inspiration, and Equality 2014, Jakarta („Honor. Mention“)

  • Pärnu Int. Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival 2014

  • Duisburger Filmwoche 2014

  • Kasseler Dokfest 2014

  • RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film 2015, Bristol

  • Eine Welt Filmpreis NRW 2015 („Best Film“)

  • German Film Museum, Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 (opening)

  • Exhibition: Thessaloniki Biennale 2017

  • „Fünf Seen“ Film Festival 2018, Starnberg („Video Art Award“)

Trilogi Jawa I–III



On Tour in Indonesia

In cooperation with Goethe-Institut Indonesia, TRILOGI JAWA was presented in several Indonesian towns in October 2014:





moon machine mo°n machine mond maschine Ascan Breuer Dokumentarisches Labor Outstanding Artist Award