Getting to school is usually such a trivial activity that most parents and children do not pay major attention to it. However, there are some remote areas in the world where a child has to travel a significant amount of distance in order to receive the desired education. Rian Apriansyah’s short film called “15.7 KM” tackles this issues in an original way.
The 15-minute-long story presents us with a young boy named Budi from Banka Isle in Indonesia. We observe how he prepares himself in the morning and eventually sets out on a long journey to school. In order not to damage his socks and shoes, he walks barefoot through forests and plains. After crossing a lake in a small boat, there is a slight chance that he may hitchhike. Ultimately, the boy arrives at his destination, puts on the socks and shoes, and begins his school day.
The most striking aspect of the film is an almost complete lack of any dialogue, apart from occasional interjections uttered by the passers-by on Budi’s route. In the style resembling that of Yasujirō Ozu, the film exposes the stillness and beauty of Indonesian nature which serves as the setting for Budi’s repetitive journey. In order not to confuse the viewers about the compression of space within the 15-minute time span, a distance counter pops out once in a while.
Even though there is not a lot of stuff happening in the film, director Rian Apriansyah provides a sensitive portrayal of an (in)visible problem, not only prevalent in Asia, which should be resolved in some way. Until then, Budi and many other children are forced to travel the way they do so that they could properly educate themselves.
Towards the end of the film, one feels as if the story could have been continued. I strongly hope that there is a possibility for a full documentary feature. Maybe then the message about building standard education facilities for children would resonate more. To conclude, “15.7 KM” is a very informative and eye-pleasing little film. We need more dialogue-free pictures in modern cinema.