At the beginning of June, Anatman Pictures had the opportunity to create another documentary in Kalimantan, although initially there was doubt about making this documentary because it involves palm oil plantations and child labour.
It was an idealism matter! :p but finally we departed in the morning on 1st of June after meeting up with the team at Soekarno-Hatta airport. Our team consisted of Putra (Director), Imam (Producer), Dhany from the agency and myself, Dennis, Assistant Director and also Drone Pilot for the day (first flight ever!).
Traveling by plane from Jakarta takes one and a half hours to get to Pontianak, West Kalimantan. Arriving there we were picked up by a taxi, and after that we exchanged the vehicle to a bigger one for a long trip from Pontianak to Sambas. The trip took about 8 hours! but we stopped first at Singkawang for a culinary journey as well as resting our legs after a 5 hour drive from Pontianak.
At 7pm we arrived in Sambas and had a briefing at one of the restaurants with a unique name ‘Dangdut Samudra Seafood’ similar name to the son of our Director “Samudra” :p cheers!
During the briefing we were told that we were still about 2-3 hours away from Sambas to reach the shooting location in the village of Sei Deden or River Deden, which is in fact is a transmigration area with the name of SPB (Resettlement Unit B). In 1992, Mr.Deden, a migrant from Bandung, got lost in the river and was not found until today, so they called the river Deden.
The next day we set out early in the morning, accompanied by Mr.Hajj that would be our driver for the next 2 days. At first we planned to shoot the sunrise in oil palm plantations, but it turned out the terrain we passed was very harsh. We must do some off-road and cross the river for almost 2 hours, so we missed the sunrise moment for that day. Based on information from Mr. Hajj, it turns out the way we passed is the path made by the company and not the Government. Before there was the road access, the only way towards Sei Deden wass through the river which is almost a 2 day trip!
Arriving there we stayed at Mr. Iskak’s home who was our main source for the story and a former child labourer. Mr.Iskak lives with his wife and two daughters in the house which he built by himself. His other son lives in Singkawang to go to school and goes home only on the weekends or holidays. While we were there, we filmed Mr. Iskak who is the local NGO Chairman and a worker in a palm oil company.
We also took footage from child labourers there. There was a 16 years old boy who has been driving a big truck loaded with palm fruit since he was 14. The youngest one is still 13 years old and his job is to pick palm fruit which weighs almost 20 kg per fruit. Also there’s a boy who had an accident while he was working and didn’t get any compensation from the company.
We tasted some of typical regional food in Sambas, it was “spicy porridge” which uses a blend of 40 kinds of vegetables to make it, but the spicy porridge that we ate was not using 40 types of vegetables :p but it still tasted good. Also phone signals are a very rare thing there and required us to walk up into the hills to search for a signal.
At the Sei Deden we only stayed overnight and while we were making our way home around 7pm there happened to be a blackout. According to Mr. Iskak, the blackouts are a common thing and often occur with random timing. After that, we walked home and passed the off-road terrain again for 3 hours. Unfortunately when we passed the river for the second time, it seemed the right front tyre of our car was damaged and required us to stop every few hundred meters to examine it or give it a watering down.
It was a great trip and we can’t wait to share the labourers story with you soon. Stay tuned!