|2013||Edwin,Thomas A. Østbye|
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“I said, ‘I think we should distribute the film in a different way, less conventional way. We will put everything in the Internet and hope our film will be lost and destroyed by the audience.”
Edwin, Director, in Filmmaker Magazine
The nation of Indonesia is actually an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, whose inhabitants form hundreds of unique cultural and linguistic communities. From this diversity, some dream of strengthening a unified sense of Indonesian identity. This was the mission that prompted former president Suharto to create Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, an amusement park that presents the plethora of Indonesian cultures and traditions in one “miniature” and viewable whole. Built in the 1970s, the park survives to this day.
Struck by the strange tackiness of this aging amusement park, filmmakers Thomas Østbye and Edwin decided to create a documentary film that recorded and deconstructed Suharto’s nationalist vision of Indonesia. But while filming, they realized that a linear film was too cohesive, too singular a story to do justice to what they were seeing—that Indonesia couldn’t be captured in one instance, but was a collection of many cultures and many points of view.
To that end, 17000 Islands was born, an interactive site in which users collaboratively deconstruct the original film by Østbye and Edwin into their own unique version. Clips of the film are assembled in a map interface representing the island nation, and users drag and drop clips into the geography, dismantling the film and creating their own as they build up their own version of these 17,000 Islands. Users can share what they’ve created and view others. The project is a testament to the ability of interactive documentary to reflect in its form the very issues that are at stake in nonfiction storytelling.