Project Description

They Call Me Babu

Sandra Beerends

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, They Call Me Babu tells a universal story about the empowerment of women.


line producer and postproduction manager.

This feature length documentary is entirely composed of archival footage from over 300 films from various archives. We recorded a voice over in Indonesian to narrate the story of an Indonesian nanny in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. The postproduction team worked closely together to create this film under a tight schedule. Working closely with the researchers at the archives, supervising the delivery of materials and the clearances was a great experience. Working on the EPK and the trailer.

The documentary premiered at IDFA 2019 in competition. Taking care of the deliverables for the sales agent, broadcaster and financiers. Creating a roadmap for Film Festivals after the release at IDFA.


Cristal Film in 2020, Golden Calf for best feature length documentary, Golden Calf for best editing, and Focal Award for Best Use of Footage in a History Feature