CPH:DOX Reviewed: 'You & I' by Fanny Chotimah

by Olivia Hird

"Pictures of the two elderly women, serve as a reminder of all they have lived through together."
'You & I' dir. Fanny Chotimah (Still: KawanKawan Media, 2021)

Winner of CPH:DOX’s NEXT:WAVE award, You & I is a gracious documentation of female friendship between two political prisoners nearing the end of their days. Contributing to the recent canon of observational documentaries exploring old age, including América (dir. Chase Whiteside & Erick Stoll) and Island (dir. Steven Eastwood), Fanny Chotimah’s sensitive portrait is a welcome addition.

74-year-old Kusdalini and 70-year-old Kaminah met in 1965 when, following political conflict and mass killings in Indonesia, they found themselves sharing a prison cell due to their involvement in the communist youth organisation. Since their release, they have lived and worked together in Surakarta, Central Java. Now selling homemade rice crackers to make a modest living, we meet the women as Kaminah cares for Kusdalini’s ever evolving needs.

Their weary home is speckled with pictures of them both, smiling side-by-side, just as they have done for more than half a decade. The young, capable bodies frozen in time behind the two elderly women serve as a reminder of all they have lived through together. The concept of platonic partnerships has yet to find its place within society’s construct of the norm; Rhaina Cohen’s 2020 longread “What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Centre of Life?originally published by The Atlantic, explores this seemingly sensible relational dynamic and the film sustains the article’s stance, with the two women exclusively referring to ea