When Dian was six years old, she heard a deep rumble and turned to see a tsunami of mud barreling towards her village. Her mother scooped her up to save her from the boiling mud. Her neighbors ran for their lives. Sixteen villages, including Dian's, were wiped away, forever buried under 60 feet of mud.

A decade later, 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area in East Java. Dozens of factories, schools and mosques are completely submerged under a moonscape of ooze and grit. The cause? Lapindo, an Indonesian company drilling for natural gas in 2006, unleashed a violent, unstoppable flow of hot sludge from the earth's depths. It is estimated that the mudflow will not end for another decade.

Shot over the course of six years, "Grit" bears witness to Dian's transformation from young girl to a politically active teenager as she and her mother launch a resistance campaign against the drilling company.

"Grit" has received mixed feedback from our film jury. The film shows very vividly the consequences of a local catastrophe, without putting them into a global context, although the underlying phenomenon of companies and politicians evading responsibility is omnipresent. The filmmakers may want this somewhat isolated view in order to emphasize the personal history of their protagonists, but it does not contribute to the involvement of the audience.

The film is stimulating and with its impressive shots visually very well done. As far as the journalistic performance is concerned, it becomes clear that the film wants to appeal to the viewer on an emotional level. There are hardly any substantial analyses or scientific facts.

"Grit" is moving and awakens empathy, but only manages to encourage the viewer to become more involved to a limited extent and is rather oppressive overall. At the end many questions remain unanswered.

Director(s): Sasha Friedlander, Cynthia Wade
Script: Sasha Friedlander, Cynthia Wade
Production: Sasha Friedlander, Cynthia Wade, Tracie Holder, Matthew Syrett
Music: Max Avery Lichtenstein
Actors: Dian Karina Maharani, Harwati Maharani, Aburizal Bakrie, Dadang Christanto, Agoes Soegianto
Year: 2018
Duration: 81 min
Picture format: 16:9
Our age recommendation: 14
Language (audio): Indonesian
Language (subtitles): English
Country of origin: Denmark, Indonesia, United States
Shooting Locations: Indonesia
Screening rights: Journeyman Pictures ()
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Further reviews


Main topic(s): Human Potential
Secondary topics: fossil fuel courage activism
Mentions: Indonesia Sidoarjo mud flow Java mud gas disaster tourism activism Lapindo drilling politics protests
Topic Page(s): Human Potential


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