Ininnawa: An Island Calling is a story of obligation and sacrifice, told through the perspective of a family dedicating their lives to providing healthcare on the remote islands of Indonesia’s Flores Sea. With an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach failing her people, the film explores the difficulties the world’s largest archipelago faces in providing health care to its people.
MIMI is a mother of two, who until recently had left her first child at school in the city and together with her youngest child, worked on the islands located 30 hours sea travel from South Sulawesi. Her husband HASRI also separates from his family to pursue his calling and work the neighbouring islands. Family reunions are rare. As veteran nurse and Mimi’s mother RABIAH is forced into retirement, she attempts to pass the baton to her daughter, yet she finds herself once more on the islands in an unofficial caretaker role, as the Covid pandemic takes hold and Mimi gives birth to her 3rd child.
Mimi’s challenges, fears, and anxieties unfold on screen as she returns to work as an independent remote area nurse. But for how long can she stay strong and separate from her young family? And for how long can Rabiah resist the call of her islands?
Having spent 15 years documenting Rabiah and Mimi’s lives and collecting more than 100 hours of footage detailing their time serving remote communities, I have developed a close relationship, extraordinary access and seen with my own eyes the consequences of a failed health system. The personal struggles these protagonists face are both unique and universal.
My personal motivation to tell this story runs deep. I am a filmmaker, but I am also the husband of a health worker and a father living apart from his children. My wife is a doctor and works on the island of Kalimantan where she stays with our two children. 500km of sea separates us and we too must plan our family reunions carefully. When I turn my camera on Mimi and Rabiah, I am in many ways turning it on my own family and asking myself whether I too, am doing everything possible to keep my relationship with my children strong and hoping they do not resent the life choices we have made.