RRU filmmaker unveils extreme female sports in Indonesia
Even with a population of 250 million people, finding female extreme athletes within conservative and traditional Indonesia is no easy task. West Shore filmmaker Darcy Turenne found the toughest five.
A 27-year-old professional mountain biker and former TV host, Turenne spent the beginning of the year living among young women and girls who dared become risk-taking athletes.
The Eighth Parallel was Turenne’s first shot at a feature documentary, and it also doubles as her thesis for her masters in intercultural and international communication at Royal Roads University.
“It’s about how to negotiate being an athlete in a traditional, male dominated society,” Turenne says. “They broke free of the stereotype.”
Turenne originally had visions of travelling to Afghanistan to interview women who participate in athletics within a rigid, highly conservative society.
“I really wanted to follow a women’s boxing team,” she says. Indonesia seemed a wiser route in terms of safety and sources.
“Indonesia is a male dominated Muslim country, but it’s a good mix of safety, sports culture and is still traditional,” she said. “There’s a lot more freedom of movement (than Afghanistan).”
She scoured action sports blogs and competition websites to eventually track down five females who fit the bill — 17-year-old Rin and 15-year-old Lasti Riantini are rock climbers; 25-year-old Jasmine Tiara Haskrell competition surfs; 30-year-old Risa Suseanty races mountain bikes; and 12-year-old Kirana Anastasua races motocross.
A few other Indonesian female extreme athletes exist, but not many. “These were the five women who were most hardcore,” Turenne says.
Over two months in January and February on the islands of Bali and Java and armed only with a Canon D7 camera, one by one she documented how the women navigated their athletic lives against demands of society and tradition.
The families welcomed her into their homes and encouraged their daughters to talk openly about their athletic passions. “Each girl had a different story. I connected with all of them in different ways,” Turenne says, “But the main theme, other than the challenge, was that usually a male family member was connected to the sport. If a family member is in the sport, that might transcend to the daughter.”
Turenne’s The Eight Parallel is part of the body of work generated under the RRU’s Canada research chair in innovative learning and public ethnography, which in a nutshell is cultural analysis through storytelling.
“Royal Roads gave me the freedom to dive into a world I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” Turenne says. “They left the door open to be creative with research. It’s a theory-based program, but it allows research that connects with regular society.”
Turenne has submitted The Eighth Parallel to the Victoria Film Festival, among a number of festivals, and is earning a reputation as an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker.
In August she shot a film in Rwanda for the Coca-Cola company, which sponsored a contest linked to women fuelling change in their communities. She described Rwanda as “shockingly clean and safe.” On a trip to Los Angeles, Turenne created and directed a music video for a band called Risers, after putting out a contest for a free video shoot on the Internet.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a filmmaker until I started doing it.”
See The Eight Parallel at www.hellodarcy.com.
—with a file from Amy Dove of Royal Roads University