ManDove has been making the rounds.  The DVD can be purchased on this site for educational or personal use.  See the tab at the top.

Here is a clip from the Taiwan Ethnographic Festival page:

We will be screening at Tokyo University and Waseda University in October.  In addition we just wrapped screenings at Winthrop U. and the University of South Carolina and in the Ukraine.   More listings below:

•    Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies,  Oct 2013
•    Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka, Oct 2013
•    RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland June 2013
•    International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), Macau SAR, June 2013
•    University of Southern California, Los Angeles, June 2013
•    Asian Study Conference of Japan (ASCJ), Tokyo, June 2013
•    FIFEQ (Festival International du Film Ethnographique du Québec), Quebec City, March 2013
•    Association of Asian Studies Conference (AAS), San Diego, March 2013
•    San Diego State University, San Diego, March 2013
•    Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow International Festival of Visual Anthropology, Oct 2012
•    Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Oct 2012
•    Kazan [Republic of Tatarstan] Festival of Muslim Cinema, Oct 2012
•    Yale University, Council on Southeast Asia Studies, 2012
•    Colgate University, 2012
•    Flaherty Film Seminar NYC, 2012
•    Experimental Performance Art Center (EMPAC), 2012
•    University of Hawaii at Manoa / East West Center, 2012

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Taiwan Screening


Outdoor screening at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival Fall 2012

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February 23, 2013 · 7:04 pm

Flaherty Rough Cut Screening

Hi all –   Please read about the rough cut screening at the Flaherty FIlm Seminar here:  

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We may need a bigger theater! Last night’s installment of Flaherty NYC’s The Lives of Animals series played to an enthusiastic sold-out house, there for a sneak preview screening of Kian Tjong and Jim de Sève’s ManDove, followed by a discussion between the filmmakers and co-programmer Kathy High.


ManDoveTjong brings de Sève to his native Indonesia to filmManDove, which takes us inside the world of perkutut, a type of singing dove bred for potentially lucrative competition throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Held in Solo, the National Perkutut Championship takes place in a large field filled with hundreds of ornate bird cages hoisted high on metal poles; judges affix flags to the poles, assigning points to the perkutut’s song. The film offers an intimate look at several competitors and the daily care of their birds, including the waning practice of ‘tuning’ birds through the use of string in constricting the pitch of their song. Amongst these bird fanciers, we find a broad cross section of Indonesian society, ranging from common citizens to a former high-ranking general under the Suharto regime.


ManDoveThe filmmakers addressed questions about translation and subtitling, part of a broader discussion about modulating one’s focus between knowledge and wonder, as well as the filmmaker’s role in facilitating access into another culture. According to Jim, “part of the idea, the design of this film, is to keep you in the dark a little bit”, discussing their desire to give viewers some latitude for interpretation within certain scenes. Kian further elaborated: “We thought maybe the contact between them and Jim could be a start, to discuss colonialism… but of course, we don’t want to say that… instead of distilling, and presenting Vitamin C, we present the orange, the fruit, and you decide what part of it you want.”


For a fascinating day-by-day look into the production process, go to Jim de Sève‘s blog:MANDOVE

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ManDove Preview Screening at EMPAC

Please join us for a preview of some footage from ManDove at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at RPI,  April 13th at 6:30pm.

ManDove will take you into an ancient and mysterious brotherhood of singing dove competitors in Java, Indonesia.

Ancient Javanese wisdom prescribes five things a Javanese man should pursue for a complete life: garwo (wife), curigo (Javanese keris dagger, weapon),wismo (house, residence), turonggo (horse, transportation) and kukilo (bird, hobby). The last requirement can only be fulfilled by owning perkutut. Leagues of Javanese men hoist zebra doves 23 feet high for competition.  ManDove gives cinematic space for the audience to consider Islam, gender and the circularity of the modern camera.

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Puter, The Babysister Dove

Post by Kian

She was about 16, always in white uniform and holding a baby. She lived a few doors away from us in Jakarta.  In late afternoon when our side of street was in shade, she would come out with the baby, hanging out in her front yard. My friend Awie went over to chat and soon they’re dating. She was a babysister, a live-in nanny. In Indonesia, nannies are called babysisters, a bastardization of the word babysitter. It made perfect sense to me then: they cared for babies and they’re women, sisters.


Awie’s family heard the news and threatened to disown him. He was ethnic Chinese; she Javanese. Awie was heartbroken for weeks. One evening, he showed me her letter. I don’t remember all the words but I remember how she ended it, “You don’t have feelings, just like this photo.” She had attached a close-up picture of a chimp, cut out from a newspaper. I looked up. At that moment I could only see that Awie, eyes drooping from sadness and lower lips slacked, emoted the same way as the chimp. I let out waves of laughter. After saying something nasty about my mother, he too giggled reluctantly with me.


Twelve years later I found myself back in Jakarta. Jim and I were visiting Gunawan’s perkutut (zebra dove, Geopelia striata) breeding farm in Bekasi, on the outskirt of Jakarta. “These are babysisters for perkutut,” Pak Gun was pointing to the slightly larger grey doves, puter, also known as brown-spotted dove (Streptopelia bitorquata). They were raised to become nannies for perkutut. Pak Gun told us puters had overwhelming maternal instinct. Puters’ own eggs were replaced with two decoy eggs made from stone. They would sit on the stone eggs and after 12 days, perkutut chicks were brought in to replace the decoy eggs. Puter would not hesitate to feed regurgitated food to these chicks. “You have to let puter dove sit on the eggs for 12 days for the milk to develop, “ Pak Gun was referring to the regurgitated food. Puter birds produce pigeon-like cooing and contagious laughter “Ha ha ha ha ha.” As a result, our footage has a strange laugh track.



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Getting to Know Perkututmen

post by Kian

Watching competitions is a great way to meet Indonesian perkututmen. The opening ceremony is formal and bureaucratic but if you stick along, you’re in for a treat. You meet all kind of characters hanging out all morning, albeit under tropical sun.


The presence of a white man, Jim, attracted so much interests that all we needed to do was waiting. We met Yoseph who apparently was assigned to assist us with hotel and transportation. But Yoseph took things too seriously, interrupting our interviews whenever he spotted another perkutut high official. Sometimes, I signaled him to wait but to no avail. “Come here, you should interview Mr. Yan Sutta, the head of Central Java chapter of the perkutut organization,” Yoseph told me in the middle of another interview.


Then there is Rofid, perkutut journalist from an avian tabloid who tried very hard to impress Jim with his perkutut knowledge. Rofid kept a very busy schedule following every big perkutut competition all through Java. Rofid had a rival Chris, who reported perkutut news on his website. The perkutut organization made sure that both men had accommodations wherever they travelled to.

Cagemakers, dealers, and feed suppliers also travelled along. In Surakarta, we saw a perkutut store in a van, selling all kinds of perkutut needs and paraphernalia. I bought hats, perkutut nest from bamboo and pine needles, squid bones for calcium and CDs of former perkutut champions.

A Chinese boy, Arief, approached and spoke to Jim in English. He came with his father from the city of Kudus, famous for its huge kretek (clove) cigarette factories, to compete in the juvenile perkutut section. Jim was happy, I could tell, speaking on his own without my translation.

Henry saw one Eurasian and immediately thought that we’d be interested. He said, “This is quite rare. Usually only Chinese and Javanese are into this.” But the Eurasian was indifferent and didn’t seem to return any eye contact.

Yuma was caught in bad traffic jam and took 18 hours to drive from Jakarta to Surakarta. His bird, Bimo Sakti (Milky Way) didn’t get the one-day rest but still took the fourth place. Haji Imam, one of the best cagemakers, came from Surabaya with a novice bird Putra Indonesia who created the biggest upset -shooting to the first place in the last round. Henry quietly offered U$5,500 but Haji Imam decided to sell to Haji Muhammad, the scrap metal businessman from Surabaya for $6,000.

Haji Muhammad was a legend himself. In past years his bird Susi Susanti won the grand championship three years in a row. People still talked about him.

At about eleven in the morning, lunch boxes were handed out to all competitors. Henry went to the organizers and came back with two more lunch boxes for us. We took a break, savoring the fried chicken and rice in the shade.


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A Short History of Perkutut


A Short History of Perkutut, the Singing Dove.  By Kian.

By the time of the Hindu Majapahit Kingdom (1292-1468) the Javanese aristocrats were already raising perkutut. When Prabu Brawijaya, the last king, travelled from East Java to Yogyakarta, his perkutut, Joko Manggu escaped from the cage. The bird reappeared in front of him at his destination near Yogyakarta. His descendants, who founded the Muslim kingdom of Mataram, kept raising perkutut in their courts into today. When perkutut sings, the Javanese use the word manggung, “to sing on stage.”  When other birds sing, they merely ngoceh, “chatter.”  Ancient Javanese wisdom prescribes five things a Javanese man should pursue for a complete life: garwo (wife), curigo (Javanese keris dagger, weapon),wismo (house, residence), turonggo (horse, transportation) and kukilo (bird, hobby). The last requirement can only be fulfilled by owning perkutut. Prince Prabukusumo, brother of Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, told us that Sultan Hamengku Buwono VII (1877-1921) started Sanden, a perkutut listening event, in the palace. His son, Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII (1921-1939) grew it into Lurugan Beksi Perkutut, a perkutut competition, wh ere aristocrats and the upper class would be invited to bring their perkutut. This is the precursor of the modern perkutut competition. The biggest perkutut competition today is the Sultan Cup, held in August in the Yogyakarta palace square. It is in its 21st year. It might seem like yesterday but Indonesia only grabbed their independence from the Dutch in 1945 after 350 years of brutal colonialism.

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