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Shape of the Moon

.

Finding its place in the daily lives of the Sjamsuddin family, SHAPE OF THE MOON resonates deeply of faith and gratitude, despite the tightly woven links between Muslim religion and Indonesian politics. The vérité style creates an experiential rhythm as the camera silently weaves in and out of tunnels and water wells, and lingers delicately as characters sleep, eat, and live. In the largest Muslim country in the world, among a population of 240 million people, Helmrich is able to find quiet moments with three generations of a Christian family.


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Running Time: 92 min.
Subject(s): Asian Studies, Religion and Spirituality, Society
Language(s): Indonesian
Subtitles: English
Director(s):
Producer(s): Leonard Retel Helmrich
Production Company: Scarabee Films

Press

  • “Shape of the Moon” is a documentary of such stunning visual grace that while watching it at Sundance, I occasionally wondered if I was mistaken about its category and the film was actually an entry in the dramatic world cinema competition that had very naturalistic actors. … they show that the documentary can be elevated to a level of poetry.
    Jeremy Mathews, FILMTHREAT.COM
  • Leonard Retel Helmrich's docu, "Shape of the Moon" reps an ambitious melange of ethnography, family drama and expressionist style.
    Leslie Felperin, VARIETY

Festival & Awards

  • Amsterdam International Documentary Festival, Netherlands - 2004
    Joris Ivens Award (Grand Jury Award)
  • Sundance Film Festival, USA - 2005
    Grand Jury Award - World Cinema Competition
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival, China - 2005
    Humanitarian Award
  • Netherlands Film Festival - 2005
    Best Feature Documentary
  • Chicago Documentary Film Festival, USA - 2005
    Excellence Award in Cinematography
  • Full Frame Film Festival, USA - 2005
    Jury Award
  • Adelaide International Film Festival, Australia - 2005
  • Full Frame International Film Festival, USA - 2005
  • Nyon International Film Festival, Switzerland - 2005
  • Seattle International Film Festival, USA - 2005
  • Munich Doc Festival, Germany - 2005
  • Silverdocs Film Festival, USA - 2005
  • San Francisco International Film Festival, USA - 2005
  • Montreal International Documentary Film Festival, Canada - 2005

additional materials

  • Film Poster
  • Single-Shot Cinema and Ethnographic Sympathy in Contemporary Indonesia: A Review Essay on The Eye of the Day (2001), The Shape of the Moon (2004), and Position Among the Stars (2011) by Leonard Retel Helmrich, by James B. Hoesterey

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Distribution Company:

  • THE “SINGLE SHOT CINEMA”

    “I have been following Rumidjah and her family for several years, and they have allowed me to film crucial moments of their everyday lives. From my first contact with the neighbourhood of Rumidjah’s family I became known as a person with a camera. For them, the camera in my hand is part of my identity, my body. This association has made it possible for me to capture intimate scenes devoid of camera shyness or self-consciousness, like the one involving Rumidjah’s neighbour who lost her apple.

    To get this close to the skin of the people, all the scenes of ‘Shape of the Moon’ have been filmed according to the principle of the “Single Shot Camera”, which I have been giving workshops on these last years in countries like the USA, Uganda, Indonesia and Germany. I have been developing this method by carefully comparing film history with the history of other forms of art, like painting, sculpturing, architecture, music and poetry.

    Like the “Cinéma Vérité” or the “Nouvelle Vague”, “The Single Shot Cinema” is based on the theory of the French film critique André Bazin. His was the idea not to cut reality into pieces, but to leave the temporal continuity of a scene intact to achieve a greater form of realism.

    Unlike the “Cinema Vérité” and the “Direct Cinema”, the central idea of the “Single Shot Cinema” is that the filmmaker has to participate in the action he’s filming to be able to feel the cadence of what is happening and to anticipate on it with the movements of his camera. In fact, reality unfolds itself according to certain schemes, and taking part in the action enables the one behind the camera to sense what is going to happen, which isn’t the case if he looks at it as an observer from the outside.

    In de “Cinéma Vérité” and the “Direct Cinema”, the emotional expressiveness of a scene is often snowed under by wobbly and uncontrolled camera movements. In the “Direct Shot Cinema”, the camera movements are intuitively directed by the involvement of the filmmaker, which enables him to put into light the different emotional point of views of the action taking place. This multitude of emotional point of views makes it possible to have different camera positions and movements, like crane-shots, close-ups, perspectives, and totals in one single dynamic shot. So even if the camera lead is a subjective one, the physical presence of the camera and the filmmaker is getting invisible during the filming process and in the film itself.


    The ideal of the Single Shot Cinema is an intuitive and anticipating way of filming, through which the filmmaker is able to completely jump into the action and to get transported by its tone and rhythm.”

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