Can a woman who was born and raised in a highly patriarchal and traditional society live the life that she wants fully? This is the premise of the short film Lamtiur screened last weekend at Erasmus Huis during the opening of the “New Woman” event.
The movie, produced by Lam Horas Production and directed by Tiar Simorangkir, portrays the experience the movie’s namesake, a Batak woman who courageously challenges the repressive norms of her tradition throughout her life. Born in a big and underprivileged family in North Sumatra, Lamtiur grows up questioning every traditional values that discriminate her because of her gender.
“If no one comes to propose me, I will be the one who proposes to them. But first, I want to go to college and get a good job,” a young Lamtiur enthusiastically tells her mother after being told that a woman doesn’t need high education as long as she grows up beautiful, so she can get a man to marry her.
Lamtiur grows apathetic of the existence of God. She strips to afford her college education and when she gives a lap dance in front of her customer, she would tease him so he would touch her. But, once he does touch her, she immediately yells to the security, “He touched me! Make sure he pays extra!”
But she has not truly left her religion, reciting a bible verse to justify the way she lives: “cunning as snakes, innocent as doves”, she would live cleverly and courageously, yet never lose heart.
The film continues to follow her unconventional life. Lamtiur eventually ends up spending the rest of her life living with a man she loves, but with whom she never ties the knot.
“Frank Sydnor...,” the now grown up and successful Lamtiur (starring emerging actress Rahmadini) gets down on her knees in front of her man, “...will you not marry me?”
She redefines well what a woman could and should be 'til she reached her golden age.
Director and writer of Lamtiur, Tiar Simorangkir, said that the film is a form of protest against the society in which she lives.
“I want people to open their eyes – that this kind of reality happens in our society. I’m sure that there are a lot of us questioning religion. But my point is, whether you believe or don’t believe in religion, everybody deserves respect,” said Tiar during the discussion.
Tiar also mentioned the reality where there are many unmarried couples who cohabitate at the expense of being judged and harassed by others.
“It’s fine that religion encourages people to marry, but, still, we all should respect the rights of those who decide not to,” she said.
When asked about a short scene in which the main character stares melancholically at her photo beside a woman, Tiar explained that the scene is a subtle reference to bisexuality.
“Yes, Lamtiur once had a relationship with a woman. I want people to understand that sexuality is fluid. You can fall in love with literally anybody, regardless of their gender,” she added.
The choice to make Lamtiur a Batak, which is also Tiar’s origin, is to diversify Indonesian films that have always been Java-centric, she said. She expressed hopes that the film would empower people, especially women, to live their life in their own terms, acknowledging that patriarchal culture will end only if people speak up their minds.