Through Songs, We Share Stories

TitleThrough Songs, We Share Stories
DirectorDony Putro Herwanto
Cinematographer/EditorAbul Ala Maududi Ilhamda
Year of Production2018
VDP Selection YearJustice-2019
Screen Time24min
TagsTrauma, Anti-Communism, Chorus, Discrimination, Political Criminal, Song, Memories


There are many ways to convey the truth of an event to the next generation, and one of those is through singing what is written. This was the path chosen by the Dialita Choir in uttering the truth of the events they experienced in 1965. Although the lyrics revolve around the beauty of nature, parents, friends and love for the motherland, the Dialita Choir tries to give another perspective in reading the dark history of the event. Besides trying to tell the truth, singing is one way to cure the wounds of stigma and discrimination they have experienced for 53 years.

Dony Putro Herwanto


Born in Ngawi, East Java in 1983. He currently works as a journalist at DAAI TV Indonesia for documentary programs. Some of his works were selected for documentary film festivals in Indonesia and became finalists in several film festivals in foreign countries, such as at the Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival 2015, Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival 2019, and finalist at the Sound & Images Challenge Film Festival in Macau 2019. At present he lives in Bogor with his wife and child.

Abul Ala Maududi Ilhamda

Cinematographer, Editor

Abul Ala Maududi Ilhamda was born and lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is a broadcast graduate. He initially loved photography and now works as a documentary videographer at a television station. To date, he has worked as a videographer. Some of his films were selected at domestic film festivals.

Interview with the Director

Why did you make this documentary?
How did you come to work on this theme?

Our reason is that we wanted to provide a vocal space for the survivors of the 1965 genocide that occurred in Indonesia. This is not to open historical wounds, but to display the dark history experienced by survivors through songs written in prison.

Commentary from the Screening Committee Members

Hiroyuki Yamamoto

Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Malaysian Area Studies, Media Studies

Half a century of young women, who, despite having taken part in a campaign for social development, had been jailed and accused of treason after a certain day. The feelings that they had failed to be good mothers and thus could not make their own mothers feel as such are expressed in their songs.

HO Yuhang

Film Director

The idea of healing through singing is a refreshing subject for a documentary, and a rather unusual one. In this moving portrayal of women who have survived a terrible tragedy, we are invited to join their healing process in the form of songs. The filmmaker doesn’t show us the violent history they’ve suffered, but chooses instead to show that the present is lived in. They sing themselves into existence so that everything would become bearable again in life. I’d like to read it as a moral choice by the filmmaker where moving on is much more practical than wallowing in the dark past, something which the survivors would probably agree with.

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