13 Oct 2021
Behind the camera - Meet Rizky and Nyimas, the local team working on Farmers, the documentary, in Indonesia.
Earlier this year, we started following three Fairtrade farmers across the world to show up-close how they keep rising against the Covid-19 crisis in an exclusive documentary series. Their personal experiences lead us to also portray larger societal challenges, such as climate change, gender equality, the next generation of farmers, and the quest for fair wages.
To arrive at realistic and intimate portraits, we turned to local film makers who could capture what they see in a unique way. Their understanding of the local context, challenges and setting is crucial.
In Indonesia, the episodes have been created thanks to dynamic camera moves and moving photography of Rizky Rahad and Nyimas Laula, who are part of the Fairpicture network. We sat down with both of them to learn more about their experience so far.
Fairtrade: What compelled you to work on this story?
Nyimas: My great-grandparents were rice farmers in West Java, and my earliest childhood memories are of going to rice fields, being taught how to plant rice seedlings, and playing in the mud.
However, growing up I witnessed how my great-grandparents farming land became smaller every year, as it was converted into something considered more profitable. Sadly, this is a reality for many farmers in Indonesia. Last year, I worked on a story about how Balinese tourism workers are coming back to farming and fishing given the effect of the pandemic on the tourism industry. This has proven yet again the importance of farming, but at the same time exposed how the current system fails to support them. Farmer stories are often deliberately silenced or left unheard. Working on stories like this helps to build a bridge between farmers and audiences far away. And emphasizes that they are the backbone of our day-to-day lives.
Rizky: Tech has made it even easier for people living in cities, like myself, to get any products. With just one click I can get my favorite veggies delivered to my doorstep. But this convenience also means a wider and more artificial connection between consumers and producers. Alienating me from the humans behind the products even more.
Through this documentary project I saw a huge opportunity for me to not only reconnect with these producers, but also show people all over the world that we're all more connected than we thought. Especially during a pandemic.
Fairtrade: What has been the most challenging part of filming and photographing this series?
Rizky: Despite our efforts, the pandemic limited our capacity to be fully immersed and close to those we are filming. It's as simple as not being able to show my emotions and affirm someone while they are speaking, let alone give them a hug when they share something very personal.
Nyimas: I agree. The pandemic created this unseen barrier between us and the collaborators in the film. Even showing small gestures like a smile was hard with a mask on. And that made it even harder to connect with Ponisih's daughters who are shy. You will see more about them in the next episodes!
Fairtrade: What has been the most rewarding?
Rizky: When I announced on social media that Ponisih's family was suffering from COVID-19, it was very moving to see the outpouring support from our friends and the audience who had seen the first episode of this series. To me, it means that this documentary has in a way achieved its purpose––to connect farmers with consumers living in the city.
Nyimas: I wholeheartedly agree with Rizky. We received a lot of support from both local and overseas audiences who were moved by Ponisih's story! While the village was relatively safe during the first wave of the pandemic, the new variant outbreak changed the game.
Fairtrade: Do you have a favorite moment from behind the cameras you would like to share?
Nyimas: We have a lot actually! For me personally was to take a family portrait for Ponisih's family. As you might have noticed in the film, Ponisih hangs a lot of photos of her children but they do not have one together. So, during our last day of shooting we arranged to take one. I set up a background in the backyard of their house using batik clothes, and I told them to wear their favorite outfits. Even the dog Moppy was included! As a photographer myself it's a small gesture that I can give in return for the things they have shared with us.
Rizky: I would have to say when we showed the documentary to Ponisih and her family for the first time––seeing the smiles on their faces reminded me of why I do this work. Oh, I also loved when Ponisih told us the story about how her husband used to send her love letters when they were young, only for her to use these letters as fuel to cook coconut sugar. What a queen!
Stream now and learn more
Learn more about all the film makers in the project here. If you have not watched the series, you can catch-up and stream all episodes so far on the dedicated website. Next week, on Tuesday 19 October, the second part of Ponisih’s story will be released.
You can also follow fairtrade.farmers on Instagram for more behind the scenes content and announcements.
All film makers and photographers are part of Fairpicture
Creativity, bustling activity and the will to shape things: the Global South is more than hunger, poverty and dependence on aid. Fairpicture wants to change the perception of the Global South. Image after image - because it is images that shape our view of the world. It works with a network of local photographers and videographers who tell their own stories and thus contribute to an authentic and just communication.