They Call Me Babu | © Peter van Huystee Film
© Peter van Huystee Film

They Call Me Babu

    All titles (2)
    Documentary Feature | 2018-2019 | Netherlands

    Project data

    Length of movie78 Min.

      Brief synopsis

      Alima worked for a Dutch family as their babu—nanny—in the former Dutch East Indies. In voice-over, we hear the story of how she came to the family to care for their baby and accompanied them for a short stay in the Netherlands. Upon her return, she lived through Japanese occupation (during which the Dutch family was put in internment camps) and the battle for Indonesia’s independence. Throughout these years, Alima never let go of her dedication to the child, but at the same time remained loyal to her lover Riboet, an independence fighter.

      Told from Alima’s perspective, the film is more than an account of changing relationships in Indonesia: first and foremost it’s about Alima’s development as an individual, breaking free of social restrictions to become an independent woman. Using unique, never-before-seen images from various archives in the Netherlands and Japan, it tells a universal story about the empowerment of women.



      DirectorSandra Beerends
      EditorRuben van der Hammen
      ComposerAlex Simu
      ProducerPieter van Huystee
      ScreenwriterSandra Beerends
      Sound designerTom Bijnen
      Sound designerMark Glynne

      Production companies

      Pieter van Huystee Film [nl]

      Distributing companies

      Pieter van Huystee Film [nl]


      Award winnerYearAwardCategory 
      Sandra Beerends2020DOK.fest München (@home) [de]DOK.horizonteWinner


      PremiereSaturday, 23/11/2019IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary (World Premiere)