City nomads: the street musicians of Jakarta

Jalanan which in English means ‘the street’ is a film documentary directed and produced in Indonesia by the Canadian Daniel Ziv. This production from 2013 tells the story of Bo, Ho and Titi, three buskers who make their living playing on the buses in Jakarta. The film reproduces the marginal life of the musicians who seek freedom while facing the law and their unstable situations. Furthermore, the documentary shows the reality of the hectic and changing Jakarta from the last 5 years, putting the stress on the political issues, the social differences and the effects of the globalization.This production follows the musicians to their home villages and traces their search of identity, legitimacy and affection for the city that adopted them to try to make a living, Jakarta. It also portrays the fact that Indonesian people love their country no matter what is looming. There is a big unity sensation even if Indonesians follow different religions and traditions along the islands that make up the country.

Jalanan has won the best documentary award at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2014 as well as in Busan the previous year. The producer Daniel Ziv is based in Bali and is a connoisseur of the Indonesian culture and language. He pointed out that with this documentary his goal was telling a true story based on a vibrant and current topic.

The argument of this production is the music so the soundtrack of the film is created using Bo, Ho and Titi’s real songs.

The musicians must leave their homes, their children and go away from their families. They live different situations yet their contexts are common since music is their passion. The meaning of this trip also happens to be a question relating to choice, poverty and resignation; still Bo, Ho and Titi love the little they have being nomads in the city.


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