Selling a Colonial War

Directed by In-Soo Radstake
Monday, May 27 , 7:30 PM - 9:45 PM
Tuesday, May 28 , 7:30 PM - 9:45 PM
Wednesday, May 29 , 7:30 PM - 9:45 PM
Filmhuis De Zwarte Doos
Price: € 4.50 incl. vat (Student) € 9.00 incl. vat (Others)

This eye-opening documentary offers the perspective of global historians and academics on the Indonesion War of Independence (1945-1950) between the newly-declared independent Republic of Indonesia and the Netherlands. In a world awakening to the sins of colonialism, the Netherlands' reluctance to confront its dark legacy is exposed, no longer shielding the nation from the shadows of its past. 

Note: Unlike the trailer shown above, the film will have English subtitles.

Genre: documentary, history
Language: English, Indonesian, Dutch, subtitles: English

The power of representation is demonstrated clearly in the way the Dutch government chose to present the Indonesian War of Independence and its violent aftermath (1945-1950). Even after three quarters of a century, competing perceptions of the events remain. Moreover, contemporary parallels can be drawn. Some of the strategies used “to sell a war” are still being used, for instance, by the current Russian regime.

Filmmaker In-Soo Radstake casts a broad view as he investigates a multitude of perspectives, including those of the Dutch government, servicemen in the Dutch and the Royal Netherlands East Indies armies, Indonesian independence fighters, the international community, and several population groups in the former Dutch East Indies. Extensive interviews with international experts provide insight into the complex relationships in the former colony and the global context. The Bersiap killings, a neglected episode in which specific groups of citizens were collectively considered as enemies of the revolution, is among the subjects touched upon.

Thanks to the participation of international researchers and the focus on how a war is framed, this documentary is not only an important addition to films already made on the subject, but also a must-see for anyone interested in propaganda as it is still used today. And although there is a lot going on, Radstake makes it easy to follow with on-screen information about key dates and events, and regular reminders of the interviewees and their specialties.

The film was nominated for “Best Feature-Length Documentary 2023” at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

It has also received a prestigious “Tegel”  (category research) for its comprehensive exploration of the Indonesian War of Independence and its aftermath. Through extensive research and interviews, Radstake presents diverse perspectives, shedding light on overlooked tragedies like the Bersiap killings. 

Winners of “De Tegel” receive an actual tile!  The prize is named after the book "Tegels lichten" (1972), in which journalist H.J.A. Hofland compares exposing misconduct in Dutch governance to shining a light on pests lurking beneath tidy garden paths. De Tegel is the most important Dutch prize in journalism.

“The film also makes the point, through various images of recent uprisings and toppled statues the world over, that issues of colonization, race and power are not consigned to the past; they remain very hot topics of debate.” Screen Daily

“This Will Be Dynamite in the Netherlands.” Variety

Radstake is not seeking a straightforward answer. He simply aims to untangle the web of imagery, points of contention, and opinions a bit further.” Dutch review in De Volkskrant

SG & USE/ITEC registration
Please register for SG & USE/ITEC by scanning your student ID card at the venue.
More information about SG & USE/ITEC can be found here

Ticket information
This film will be shown at Filmhuis De Zwarte Doos. Buying a ticket online in advance is mandatory if you want to attend this film. You can buy a ticket by clicking on the black “order” button on this page.
Please note: you can only buy a ticket online; tickets cannot be purchased with cash or bank card at the ticket counter. 
For more general information about tickets, refund policies, etc., please click here.

Please be on time
The screening of the film starts at 19:30 sharp (no pre-film commercials) and the cinema hall opens at 19:10. We kindly ask you to be at the ticket counter at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the film. This is to ensure the film starts and ends on time. 

The Studium Generale film program is selected in collaboration with the Student Film Committee and Natlab.

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