The Netherlands has a long and complex relationship with Indonesia. For 350 years, it was the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized. As a result of this history, a great part of the Dutch population is connected through blood to the people in the world’s largest archipelago. While history lessons in the Netherlands focus mostly on the positive side of this period, a turning point occurred when researchers and Indonesian Dutch uncovering untold stories of our nation’s darker side of history. One of them was award-winning director Jim Taihutu, who explored the story of his great-grandfather, a Moluccan KNIL-soldier serving the Dutch crown during the Indonesian War of Independence. After the Netherlands had to give up Indonesia, he was ordered by the Dutch government to travel to the Netherlands, where he was stripped of his rank as were his compatriots. Taihutu was determined to tell this part of history that was barely taught in schools while he was growing up.
THE EAST is the first film of its kind, telling an untold story based on true events that touched the lives of millions of Dutch people.
THE EAST takes place during the Indonesian War of Independence and tells the story of a young Dutch recruit named Johan (Martijn Lakemeier) who joins an elite army squad led by a man known as “The Turk” (Marwan Kenzari). As the fight against Indonesian freedom fighters becomes increasingly brutal under the helm of the infamous captain, Johan is forced to reconsider his beliefs to the point of complete disillusionment. THE EAST is the first film of its kind, telling an untold story based on true events that touched the lives of millions of Dutch people. With its release, THE EAST put a major question mark behind all 2020 festivities that celebrated 75 years of freedom in the country that started a war of its own only months after the biggest war in European history came to an end.