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April 2009

I'm a big fan of Slumdog Millionaire, but Indonesia has shown that it can produce films of high calibre on similar topics. There has been a lot of cynicism expressed by Indonesians about the recent elections (or more specifically about political candidates), but I recently saw a powerful reminder that there are still idealists out there. The film Laskar Pelangi, based on a book of the same name, is one of the biggest hits in Indonesian cinema, and the book has been hugely popular.

Laksar Pelangi is a story about how the education system denies access to the poorest, because even the so-called state system relies on having a certain degree of wealth for access. The story is about a struggling Muhammadiyah School on Belitung, and the idealism that keeps that school going: the conviction that the poorest in society need access to education. The film is a great analysis of how class works in Indonesia, but without being heavy-handedly political, and is really inspiring.

A warning though to make sure you've got a box of tissues with you, it's very moving without being overly sentimental. The local accents are great too!