- INDONESIA / 2016 / Indonesian, Helong / Color / Blu-ray / 76 min

Director, Photography, Sound: Manuel Alberto Maia
Editing, Producer: Shalahuddin Siregar
Music: Yennu Ariendra
Co-producer: Damar Ardi
Production Company: Komunitas Film Kupang
Source: Raketti Films

Kupang, West Timor. Nokas, a young man who works in the fields, is set to marry Ci, who raises chickens. But things do not go so easily, as unsaid rules of marriage between two families stand in the way of the couple’s happiness. As the patriarchs of both families reach agreements about the dowry and details of the ceremony, Nokas‘ resolve is strengthened, regardless of the financial cost. He turns to his sister—a powerful single mother—and to his mother and her husband who live on Semau Island across the strait, for the necessary funds.

[Director’s Statement] I first met Nokas in April 2013, when I was working on an assignment documenting the struggle of Kolhua farmers in jeopardy of losing their land. He was resting on his farm, and in the midst of the smoke from his cigarettes, we spoke about our motherland and our birthright to live on our own land. Nokas is one of thousands of Kolhuas who continue to struggle against the local government’s mega-dam construction plan—reportedly worth over 46 million dollars.

Nokas won my heart when I learned that he was still single. A single young man in Kupang who prefers to work his land is uncommon. Most would rather hang out at the local billiard bars or work in other big cities. The challenges they face because of the government’s project are also very discouraging. Nokas’ life choices became my main drive.

My interest in this hardworking young man and his difficult circumstances led me to a profound understanding of the complexity of his family life. Out of narratives on marriage, family, and culture in Timor, I focused the film on Nokas’ efforts to fulfill his requested dowry and finally marry his true love. Therefore, I dare to say that Nokas represents contemporary Timorese life.

In the three years I worked on this film, I learned so much; not only from my characters and their culture, but also about how film has become an important and powerful medium in fighting against the structural poverty endured by many groups in society. Nokas and his family gained the same awareness, which led them to open up to being filmed and partaking in the long process of filmmaking. The whole production experience, from pre-production to post—and even through the ongoing distribution process of the film—has been a very fruitful and rewarding learning process not only for me, but also for the friends who joined me on this journey.

- Manuel Alberto Maia

Born in Balibo on April 17, 1989. He finished his bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Education at Nusa Cendana University in Kupang. He started the Kupang Film Community in 2011. In 2012, he participated in the Kickstart! Program of In-Docs—a documentary filmmaking workshop for beginners. He has made a few short documentaries, including Kaos Kupang (2012) and Kabar dari Medan (2014). Nokas is his first feature-length documentary.