Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

The Photograph

Chopstick Cinema

Chopstick Cinema

Sita is a young Indonesian woman who has been turned out of her sister’s house, which is crowded with visiting family members who have come for the wedding of Tini. With no place else to go, Sita manages to talk Mr. Johan, an ailing portrait photographer, into letting her stay in the attic of his home studio. In an attempt to earn a enough money to send home to support her daughter Yani and a grandmother in need of an expensive operation, Sita has been working as a nightclub singer and reluctant prostitute, and is already deeply in debt to Suroso, her tyrant of a pimp.

Over time, as Sita and Mr. Johan become better acquainted, she begins to help out around the house and studio in lieu of rent, and observes his failing health and his mysterious daily ritual of burning incense and making offerings at the same spot on a railway now overgrown with weeds. She also learns that Mr. Johan is avidly seeking an apprentice to become his successor at the photography studio. Although unspoken, both Sita and Mr. Johan have a mission in life, and in their own unlikely way, ultimately manage to fulfill each other's deepest need.

Join me this week on Chopstick Cinema for a closer look at the Asian entries in the 2009 Cinequest Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday, February 25 and runs through Sunday, March 8. For further information on the film and the festival, visit the Cinequest website.

For questions or comments send e-mail to cheiter at thingsasian dot com