Shot over the course of 12 years, Standing on the Edge of a Thorn explores the rural origins of the Indonesian sex trade. The film is narrated by Lisa Ariyani, the daughter of Imam Rohani—a retired civil servant struggling with a mental disorder—and Tri Suryani, an unwed pregnant teenager.
Trapped by traditional values that stigmatize their relationship, Tri is eventually lead into a life of prostitution and violence. It is against this unstable family backdrop that Lisa matures into a young woman and the film documents her struggle to understand her parents’ predicaments while she herself is being drawn into the sex trade.
My wife is much younger, almost twenty-five years younger. She’s the same age as my oldest child from my first marriage.
I was forced to marry. The marriage was arranged by my parents. Back then, children couldn’t disobey their parents.
Don’t judge a prostitute…because a housewife isn’t always better than a prostitute.
My husband asked this wealthy man, “Sir, could you help me with five million rupiahs? In return, you can take my wife anywhere you want.”
Villagers saw my wife as a “bad girl,” and she felt ashamed.
I’m torn that I have to do this to feed my child.
Robert Lemelson is a cultural anthropologist, ethnographic filmmaker and philanthropist. Lemelson received his M.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles. Lemelson’s area of specialty is transcultural psychiatry; Southeast Asian Studies, particularly Indonesia; and psychological and medical anthropology. He currently is a research anthropologist in the Semel Institute of Neuroscience UCLA, and an adjunct professor of Anthropology at UCLA. His scholarly work has appeared in numerous journals and books. Lemelson founded Elemental Productions in 2008, a documentary film company.
Alessandra Pasquino is a filmmaker and producer of documentaries, commercials, and special projects. She has collaborated with many artists and celebrities including: Oliver Stone, Wayne Wang, Klaus Kinski, Gregory Colbert, Leonardo Di Caprio, Pietro Scalia and Matthew Rolston. She is currently developing documentary projects both with Elemental Productions and independently.
Wing Ko received his degree in film from Columbia College Chicago. He has been working with Elemental Productions for over 8 years. On 40 Years of Silence, Wing worked as an editor and found it challenging as well as rewarding to trim down the 400 hours of raw footage into an 86 minute film. Currently, he is working with Elemental Productions as a cinematographer and editor.
Born in Mie Prefecture, Japan. As a graduate of the University of California, Chisako began her motion picture career in Hollywood as an Editor’s Assistant. She met Oscar-Winning editor, Pietro Scalia, and has been involved with the editing of many memorable films such as; “Good Will Hunting”, “Gladiator”, “Hannibal”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Memoir of a Geisha” and “American Gangster”.
Malcolm Cross has been a professional composer for film, television and stage since 1996. He composed the score for “Oh Saigon” a feature-length documentary broadcast on the Sundance Channel. He scored the independent shorts “I Dream of Dog” and “Insomniac Obsession” and wrote the theme and incidental music for the television series “America’s Prom Queen” (ABC Family). Cross’s music has been featured in the television series “Road Rules” (MTV) and “Men in Trees” (ABC) and in the romantic comedy “Something New” (Focus Features).