They Call Me Babu

Ze noemen me Baboe
history & memory
archival footage
women in film
Sandra Beerends
The Netherlands
English & Hungarian Subtitles
International Competition

This subtle montage film reveals the invisible story of Indonesian nannies through private footage of Dutch families living in colonized Indonesia. These young girls, or pembantus, served wealthy families in Dutch-controlled Indonesia in the 1940s. Succeeding in life as a nanny meant dependence on the colonists, but also implied the promise of freedom, which there was little possibility of obtaining. Whilst Alima’s character is fictional, the entire film is based on archival footage. Real life stories and personal accounts divulge a life full of twists and turns as Alima trys to find a balance between her identity and solidarity towards her Dutch family.

geoblocked to Hungary
Pieter van Huystee
Ruben van der Hammen NCE
Mark Glynne
Tom Bijnen
Alex Simu
Voice over: 
Denise Aznam
Production info: 
Pieter van Huystee Film
Distribution info: 
Pieter van Huystee Film Rudolf Kats
IDFA 2019 Competition for Best Dutch Documentary & Best Use of Archive
Focal Awards 2020 Best Use of Archival Footage in a History Feature
Buma Music in Motion 2020 Best Original Composition in Documentary
DOK.fest Munich 2020 DOK.horizons Winner
Nederlands Film Festival 2020 Golden Calf for Best Editing & Best Documentary