Archive of films Whispering Sands / Pasir Berbisik

Indonesia / Japan
2001, 106 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2002

Adolescent Daya lives with her mother in a coastal village until the day they are forced to flee their home. They cross the desert into the parched inland region where they have to start their lives again. The girl thinks constantly of her beloved father who abandoned her years before, and awaits his return. One day he indeed makes a reappearance.…


Teenager Daya lives with her mother who earns a meagre existence as a traditional healer in a small village on the Java coast. One day, however, both are forced to flee ethnic violence. They manage to escape from their burning village, they cross the desert and settle in another God-forsaken place, scourged by the heat and sandstorms. The girl, who doesn’t understand her mother’s antipathy towards her absent husband, thinks constantly of her father who abandoned her when she was little. She hopes that he will return and that they will leave together for a distant city. The mother won’t hear of any of this, but Daya, who is learning to read and write from a village elder, still dreams of a happy future. And then one day, her father does come back. He starts telling his pretty daughter the same tales he used to tell her when she was young, he lets the women look after him and will do anything to find the money for yet another flight from responsibility. Daya now sees her father’s true character, she understands her mother’s painful disillusionment and her inner strength; she shares with her a cheerless fate and the profound love that her mother shows for her only child.

About the director

Nan Triveni Achnas, one of the few women making movies in the Indonesian film industry, studied film direction at Jakarta´s Intsitute of the Arts and then took a master´s degree in the same field at East Anglia University in Great Britain. Her short The Only Day (Hanya Satu Hari, 1988) won the Grand Prix at the Asian Festival of Young Filmmakers in Tokyo in 1988 and The Little Gayo Singer (Ceh Kucak Gayo, 1997) was honoured at the Yamagata festival. She and a trio of other directors worked together on Kuldesak (1999), and she has shot a number of shorts. Whispering Sands, screened in the competition at Pusan and Rotterdam, is her feature debut; the film stars two of Indonesia´s favorite actors, Christine Hakim and teen idol Dian Sastrowardoyo.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Another View
Director: Nan T. Achnas
Screenplay: Nan T. Achnas, Rayya Makarim
Dir. of Photography: Yadi Sugandi
Music: Theorsi Argeswara
Editor: Sentot Sahid
Producer: Shanty Harmayn, Christine Hakim
Production: Salto Productions
Cast: Christine Hakim, Slamet Rahardjo, Dian Sastrowardoyo

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