The ever-cheerful Nur works as a cook at the Islamic boarding school Al Fatah in Yogyakarta, where all the adult students are transgender. Here they can live the way they choose to—in stark contrast with the hostile world outside, where transgender women are abused because their lives are said to be incompatible with Islam. “Say no to LGBT,” instruct the posters in the street, warning of a “contagious disease.” During their street performances, the women have to be constantly on the lookout for the police.
Even when an Islamic extremist group comes to the school to forbid their activities, they cheerfully go on with daily life—cooking, praying, singing and occasionally taking an HIV test, all enlivened by self-deprecating jokes. Nevertheless, Al Fatah was closed down by the government in 2016, supposedly because the neighbors felt uncomfortable. But activities gradually resumed in 2021.
Tonny Trimarsanto, who also made a previous film about transgender people in Indonesia (The Mangoes), filmed these slices of life in a relaxed style. His camera observes everything, without judgment.