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Annah the Javanese Girl

filmmaker : Fatimah Tobing Rony
Composer : Aghi Narottama
Indonésie, 2020
Production : Fatimah Tobing Rony

English, French


In 1893, a 13-year-old girl comes to work for French painter Paul Gauguin as his maid and model. They called her Annah la Javanaise. This is a reimagining of her story.

Annecy 2020

Tënk's film review

In some ways, this film resembles a traditional tale. Its animation, graphic design and sound composition are simple and ostensibly enchanted – the story, which starts with a kind of “once upon a time”; Annah, the uprooted heroine who turns up alone in an unknown world – what obstacles will she have to overcome? But very soon, we understand the tragedy, the real tragedy, the tragedy that really took place in history, the destiny of this very real young woman, which reached us with her portrait on canvas. It’s the first-person narrative of this voiceless young woman and her painful path in life, that not only moves us but also debunks the mythical image of a famous painter.

Jean-Marie Barbe
Producer, Editorial Coordinator of Tënk and Co-founder of the États Généraux du Film Documentaire de Lussas

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Fatimah Tobing Rony

Fatimah Tobing Rony is a director, writer and producer. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from UCLA and a PhD in History of Art from Yale. She has written, produced and directed films such as “On Cannibalism” and “Perempuan Punya Cerita” (Chants of Lotus) with Nia Dinata, Upi Avianto and Lasja Susatyo. She won an award at the Berlinale Talents summit in 2005. Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, she published “The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle”, which won the Society of Cinema Studies’ Katherine S. Kovaks prize. “Annah the Javanese Girl” is based on her forthcoming book “How Do We Look? Resisting Visual Biopolitics” (Duke University Press, 2021).

Other films in the collection: Cream of the screens