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“Promised Paradise: How Can One Believe That Terrorism Leads To Heaven?” with Filmmaker Leonard Helmrich

April 6, 2008 @ 6:00 pm 9:30 pm EDT

Leonard Retel Helmrich is an internationally recognized Indonesian filmmaker. His featured documentary The Eye of the Day (2001) made him famous in the documentary film world. The follow-up, Shape of the Moon (2004), was selected for many important festivals and won the top documentary award at the Sundance Film Festival. In Helmrich’s Promised Paradise: How Can One Believe That Terrorism Leads To Heaven?, the Jakarta-based Indonesian puppeteer and troubadour Agus Nur Amal travels to Bali to call to account the people who were responsible for the bomb attack on a nightclub there on 12 October 2002. Come early for a 6 PM potluck with the artist!

Co-Sponsored by the Department of the Arts at RPI.


A television monitor with a man in traditional Indonesian shirt and hat is looking into and pointing at the camera. He stands in front of a banner with a globe, with the word news visible.
Still from Promised Paradise: How Can One Believe That Terrorism Leads To Heaven?

About the Film:

In Promised Paradise: How Can One Believe That Terrorism Leads To Heaven?  the Jakarta-based Indonesian puppeteer and troubadour Agus Nur Amal travels to Bali to call to account the people who were responsible for the bomb attack on a nightclub there on 12 October 2002. Like in his theatre shows, humour is his main weapon. Before an audience of children, we see him enact the attack on the Word Trade Center inside a gigantic “TV set.” The doll of Osama Bin Laden swaying his hips gets his audience roaring with laughter. But people stop laughing when his shadow play about the WTC disaster changes into images of new bomb attacks in Indonesia–first on the Australian Embassy in September 2004, and later in Bali in October 2005. Director Leonard Retel Helmrich, the 2004 winner of the Joris Ivens Award with The Shape of the Moon (De Stand van de Maan), uses ingenious editing to have Agus talk with the brain behind the attack in a “TV interview.” Agus also consults a paranormal advisor and asks him where the perpetrators of the suicide attack are now. “Their heaven is our hell,” is the conclusion. But while Agus is in Bali, his friend Endang, who is still in Jakarta, falls prey to intolerance and violence. (Source: IDFA catalogue)

About Leonard Retel Helmrich:

Leonard Retel Helmrich’s work includes the short fiction film De Drenkeling (The Drowning Man), the feature-length film The Phoenix Mystery, and the multiple award-winning documentary Moving Objects (1991). He shot several short documentaries before, during and after Suharto stepped down as president of Indonesia. With his feature documentary The Eye of the Day, he instantly became famous in the documentary film world and won many international awards. Shape of the Moon, a follow-up to The Eye of the Day, was selected for many important festivals including the top documentary award at the Sundance Film Festival.

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