The Netherlands


THEY CALL ME BABU is a film about native Indonesian girls working as nannies (pembantu) for the colonial Dutch in a rapidly changing world in the 1940s against the backdrop of WWII and the struggle for independence in Indonesia. The film is told from the perspective of Alima and begins with her decision to flee from an arranged marriage to work as a pembantu for a Dutch family. Through all her new impressions and thoughts, she looks critically at colonial society and her own position. The film is told through the use of archive footage.

Director's Biography

Sandra Beerends is a script editor/creative producer and writer/director who runs her own company, Beruang and works for the dramadepartment of the Dutch broadcaster NTR . She has been on the juries of Prix Europa, Prix Jeunesse, Cinedans, Klik! and IFFR.

She wrote and produced the short ARIGATO (audience award Film by the sea 2012) about the Dutch Indonesian wartrauma. Her first documentary THEY CALL ME BABU premiered successfully at IDFA, was among the audience favourites and received the Crystal prize for selling more than 10,000 tickets in its initial theatrical run. At the same time the film is travelling the international festival circuit and was called ‘the Indonesian version of Roma’ in the Sydney morning Herald.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Sandra Beerends

Written by: Sandra Beerends

Produced by: Pieter van Huijstee

Editing: Ruben van der Hammen

Original Score: Alex Simu

Sound: Mark Glynne, Tom Bijnen

Main Cast: Denise Aznam (Alima)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Documentary Selection 2020