'Semesta,' a new documentary film co-produced by Nicholas Saputra, shows how local wisdom can help slow down the devastating effects of climate change. (Photo courtesy of Tanakhir Films)

'Semesta': Nicholas Saputra-Produced Documentary Mines Local Wisdom to Help Fight Climate Crisis


JANUARY 22, 2020

Jakarta. New documentary film "Semesta," co-produced by Mandy Marahimin and heartthrob actor Nicholas Saputra, explores intimately the struggle of seven community leaders in harnessing local wisdom to slow down the effects of climate change. 

Semesta, the Indonesian word for "universe," comes at a time when the world's attention is focused on the devastating effects of climate change – from bushfires in Australia to floods and landslides in Indonesia.

The documentary is a reminder that nature conservation is already deeply ingrained in the diverse religions, beliefs and cultures of the archipelago. 

The first character featured in the documentary is Tjokorda Raka Kerthyas. The man from Ubud, Bali, turns Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, into a universal reminder that the world – too consumed by busyness – needs to rest to return to its equilibrium. 


Then there is Agustinus Pius Inam, a village head from Sungai Itik in West Kalimantan, who ensures that residents of his village continue to manage the rainforest where they live sustainably in spite of widespread deforestation.

In Bea Muring, Manggarai, West Nusa Tenggara, there is the Catholic priest, Father Marselus Hasan, who seven years ago led people in his village to build a micro-hydro electricity plant to replace their old, noisy and dirty generator. 

Semesta also highlights local women's contribution in fighting climate change through the story of Almina Kacili, the head of a women's church in Kapatcol, West Papua. She leads women in her village to fight the dangerous and environmentally destructive practice of "fish bombing" that has decimated fish population in the area. 

In Pameu, a tiny village in Aceh, Muslim preacher Muhammad Yusuf tirelessly advises his congregation to exercise patience in their frequent conflicts with elephants stomping through the village and eating the villagers' crops because their habitat has been ruined by deforestation.

Another character in the film, Iskandar Waworuntu, combines the Islamic practice of thayyib, Arabic for good and fair, with permaculture to educate people on how to bond with nature. 

Finally, in the capital Jakarta, Soraya Cassandra and her husband have opened up Kebun Kumara, an urban farm smack bang in the middle of the polluted megalopolitan, and offered classes for anyone who wants to try their hand – or green thumb – in urban farming. 

Director Chairun Nissa said she wanted the audience to see many options of what they can do to contribute to the fight against climate change after seeing the tireless efforts of the characters in her documentary. 

"We can always find simple things to do in our daily life to help reduce the effects of climate change," Nissa said at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The movie is the first feature documentary produced by Tanakhir Films, a production house owned by actor Nicholas Saputra and producer Mandy Marahimin.

"We want to represent as many religions and provinces in Indonesia. We have Aceh, the westernmost part of Indonesia,  and Papua, its easternmost part. And we have Muslims, Catholics and Hindus all playing important roles in fighting climate crisis," Nicholas said.

Semesta was nominated in the Best Feature Documentary category at the Indonesian Film Festival and has been screened at the Suncine International Environmental Film Festival in Barcelona in November last year.

Semesta will be on general release from Jan. 30.