Private Project

School of Monkey

Toboh Gadang Village located at Padang Pariaman, West Sumatera, has a "school" for primates which is called Baruak in local language. Baruak or most people known as monkey, often used by some people in a few different area in West Sumatera as coconut picker dan it has become a tradition which exist until today. Yuang Oroh (65), was born from Pabaruak family and ever since elementary school, he decided to quit school and proceed doing his parents profession. To be able to produce a talented in picking coconut and high-priced monkey, he began selecting, raising, training, selling and also trading monkeys which takes most of his time everyday. It is because of the profit gained is not equal as the hardwork, this profession has become extermely rare in West Sumatera. Moreover, as years goes by, Yuang Oroh's health condition has gotten worse, leaving his 2 sons, Ris and Masrizal as one of the few monkey trainer.

  • Gery Arsuma
  • Gery Arsuma
  • Gery Arsuma
  • Yuang Oroh
    Key Cast
  • Ris
    Key Cast
  • Masrizal
    Key Cast
  • Zal
    Key Cast
  • Jasman
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Sikola Baruak
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    39 minutes 44 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    185 USD
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Director Biography - Gery Arsuma

Gery Arsuma born in Padang 23 years ago. He is a writer and director of documentary films from Indonesia. He has won several awards as the best documentary film, best director, and best cameramen at several film festivals in Indonesia such as a Broadcast Movie Project, Anti Corruption Film Festival, and ISI Padang Panjang Short Movie Festival.

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Director Statement

I’m interested to the story “Sikola Baruak”, cause is not just to found the interest topic to made a documentary. But I realized, what I often encounter in childhood is rarely to found it again right now. That is the coconut picker monkeys. The people bring their monkey to help their work in palm plantations belonging to local residents.

I was born and grow up in the area where the traditions ongoing of the coconut picker monkey. That is West Sumatra. When I’m child, I’m very excited to see these attractions. The monkey climbs and picks the coconuts. Their attractions so funny and almost like a human. Short stories, when I’m grew up and migrate to java. When back to my hometown, I difficult to found these attractions.

Inadvertently, I try to figure out what is going on of these traditions. After I did a little research from the literature study and observation, I found the answer. Why the tradition since 1880 is reduce, because the reduction of monkey trainers due to several factors. One of them is the economic factor. To teach the monkey to be clever in pick coconuts is not easy. It must have a special ability to train the wild monkey to be the tame monkey that can help the human. It takes extra time and patience.

At the time, I think to make a documentary on the subject at a distance very close to the audience. From local wisdom, story in this film is formulated in such a way: the thick culture, strong confidence, the old advice, the atmosphere of minangkabau, the binding humor and the interpersonal relationship became the spices to the audience can feel they were present in the midst of this issue.