Some documentaries set out to entertain while others aim to inform the viewer. Then there is Position Among the Stars which endeavours to absorb you into its subject matter, inviting you to not so much draw your conclusions but feel your way through them. Director, Leonard Heimrich's masterwork has a kind of language all its own courtesy of brilliant camera work and angles that make you feel as though you are the lens.
This episode is the final installment of a trilogy that chronicles the lives of a poor Indonesian family over a 12 year period as they struggle to make ends meet at a time of profound change. But even as democracy and capitalism sweep the nation the rich keep getting richer while the poor continue to endure hardship, the family's honour now resting on the granddaughter making it to college - a "winner" in the family at last.
The film is a sociological tour de force with flecks of wit and humour. Most of all it is profoundly humane. As a study of Indonesian values you'll soon see past the squalor and squabbles to how little different Indonesian aspirations are to the average Westerner. People are people. Nevertheless the poverty hits home as does the vain but unwavering faith they place in God (Muslim or Christian) that He will help them in times of need.
Poignancy abounds throughout but none more so than in the final scene in which the family matriarch and her sister sit together gazing at the stars while singing a nursery rhyme they learned as children: You little star way up high, there are so many of you shining in the sky. I would love to fly and dance with you, and to find my place among the stars. Indeed they deserve their position in the stars ... as they all do. Don't miss it!