Short Film Review: Dear Daddy (2019)

Director Patar Simatupang’s father was a long absent figure in his childhood. Meeting him again at 8 years of age, Simatupang called him “brother”.

Dear Daddy (Kepada Bapak di Rumah) records Simatupang’s reminiscences of his father and the decision to forgive him. Narrated as a letter to his father, the 12-minute documentary is illustrated with photo montages, recordings of Simatupang at work and at church, and scenes from the streets.

Both the letter and the film are private and unembellished. It doesn’t have a point to make about sons and fathers, and it doesn’t speak to the viewer. The viewer enters, almost unobserved, into a personal conversation.

That means the significance of things can be lost, and events and actions are not clarified. “Daddy” is the singular audience. The film leaves little room for spectacle or sympathy.

Simatupang does what he sets out to do – compose a letter to his father. The documented Simatupang is at the beginning rather than the end of his reconciliation. What comes across at present is muffled pain and dull clarity. There is no means to surface what is hidden, to drown or to emerge, without the intent of either Simatupang the subject, or Simatupang the director.

Dear Daddy (Kepada Bapak di Rumah) screened at the Minikino Film Week (MFW) under the A Touch section.

Written by Teenli Tan

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