Short Film Showcase: Backpack Through Indonesia in Under 5 Minutes

Follow these backpackers on an epic journey across Indonesia. Filmmaker Marco Santi shares highlights of his 16-day adventure in Backpackers Memahami Indonesia. Roughly translated from Indonesian, memahami means “to understand or comprehend.” Travel from the top of Gunung Bromo, an active volcano, to the depths of the Indian Ocean in this stunning short. I spoke with Santi about the film and his travels.

How long were you traveling and how long did this piece take to film?

I traveled 16 days around Indonesia, and during that time I filmed
all the things that captured my attention.

Can you tell me about the locations featured in your short?

I visited three of the main islands in Indonesia: Java,
Bali, and Flores. In Java I visited the city of Yoghiakarta, Borobudur (a Buddhist temple), Prambanan (an archaeological site with many Hindu temples), Gunung Bromo (an active volcano), and Ijen (a mountain with a sulfur mine and volcanic lake).

In Bali I stayed only three days, and the most exciting things I saw were a traditional Balinese dance and Ubud, the cultural center of Bali.

Then I moved to Flores, and there I visited Kelimutu Volcano (where there are three lakes of three different colors, one next to the other), Seventeen Islands (small islands of white sand in the middle of the sea), Bajawa (a traditional Indonesian village), and Komodo National Park.

Any memorable stories you can share?

Luckily we had a lot of memorable and also funny stories that my friends and I could tell. Maybe the episode that most impressed me was during the visit to Kelimutu Volcano. We were walking to reach the panoramic view from which [we could] see the three volcanic lakes when we met a group of young Indonesian students who literally attacked us because they wanted to take a picture with us. They were so excited because of the meeting with European people. It was a very funny moment.

Do you have a favorite place from the trip?

For sure it is Gunung Bromo: It’s true, it’s so famous, but it deserves its popularity.

It’s simply one of the best landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. It is totally breathtaking. This was the most impressive thing I saw during our journey. But I sincerely have to see much more [around] that country, so I hope to go back there in the next years.

What’s your approach to travel?

I don’t exactly have an approach to travel. When I can, I just take the plane
to reach the place that, in that moment, can inspire me more. I go there and
I try to see and shoot as much as I can. In my earlier trips I usually took a guidebook [around] the country with me, and I read it on the way to help me choose the best places to see. But that isn’t the best way to do backpacking, in my opinion. Yes, it’s important to have some information about what you want to see, especially if you haven’t got a lot of time. But it’s a million times better to just go there, get lost, and speak with locals or with other backpackers, as you’re without any specific destination.

What are you working on next?

Traveling is one of my biggest passions. But filmmaking is the first of all. I want
to make a movie as soon as possible. I have to tell all I feel inside, and the best
way to do it for me is to film it. To do so, I’m starting with two short movies I have to shoot in the next months. And I hope that they can help me to start a director career. Anyway, I will continue with my backpackers project very soon too. I’d like to go in the next months to Myanmar or Japan. I love Asia, and I want to go back there in the next months. I hope to do a trip before the middle of summer, and for sure I will make another travel video there.

See more from the Short Film Showcase.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic’s mission of inspiring people to care about the planet. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of the National Geographic Society.

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Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Rachel Link curates content for National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. Each week she features films from talented creators that span a range of topics. She hopes that this work will inspire viewers to explore the world around them and encourages filmmakers to keep pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.