It was a night when technology meets humility as the residents of Sawah Lunto Street in
Manggarai, South Jakarta saw a different kind of crowd at the opening of SEL 49
on December 13, 2009. There were screenings, traditional food, acoustics, loud
music and a gathering of people from different backgrounds.
SEL 49 is the
joint office of EngageMedia, the Independent Videomaker Network (JAVIN) and
GloW Alliance. The three groups joined in the quest to work together in sharing
knowledge and concerns on social justice and environmental issues through
videos and other means. While both EngageMedia and JAVIN are video focused
groups, GloW Alliance focuses on bringing the climate crisis issues prominent
through various methods, although several of its founders are filmmakers. Aside
from being a workplace, SEL 49 – the name is short for Sawah Lunto and the prison-like
features of the building – opens its doors for people to screen films, discuss
films, books and issues, upload and download videos, and also to share knowledge.
What was planned
for a soft launch turned out into a grand launch as more than 150 people turned
up for the launch, from young filmmakers to seasoned historians, from tattooed
activists to the daughter of a former Indonesian president. With the help of
the community, the organisers blocked the Sawah Lunto Street and set up two
event areas – the tent on the road, and inside the office. The show kicked
start with Indo Beatbox performers, remarks from the local “Pak RT”, welcoming
speeches from representatives of the three host groups, then the “layar tancap”
(outdoor screening) of “Time for Reel Action” climate crisis video compilation.
The compilation itself is an initiative by EngageMedia to collect climate
crisis videos from Asia and the Pacific which were later put into DVDs and
distributed throughout the network in the region. Aside from Jakarta, the films
were screened in Australia and Denmark, where the UN Climate Change summit took
place. EngageMedia, JAVIN and GloW Alliance also combined to produce a film
called “Green Gone Wrong” which raises the issue of green trends in Indonesia
and the thirst for profit from the palm industry.
screening, the crowd were treated by traditional snacks and live musical
performances inside the office space with EngageMedia’s very own training and
project coordinator/hip hop artist Nova Ruth, guitar guru Toto Tewel, Rustique Kollektiv,
Jalan Surabaya, Technoshit and Marginal.
The event inside was also screened outside at the tent via live web feed.
As the night
went on, people started to realise that SEL 49 is a different kind of place. In
the later days, the office was filled with more paintings and art installations
donated and loaned by artists. SEL 49 is open for anyone and welcomes ideas
from anyone with the thought of making a bit of difference. See you at SEL 49!