About 17.000 Islands

17000 Islands is an interactive documentary experiment in image making. Set in the Indonesian museum park called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park – a manicured synopsis of the country’s 17,000 islands – the project explores models of reality by looking at how an image of a nation is created and how documentary filmmaking takes part in this process.


Taman Mini was built by the Suharto regime in the 1970s to represent the idea of a diverse country living in harmony under a national ideology – regardless of the opposite reality. In 1998, the corrupt regime was overturned but the park remains open and popular. While the majority of people see it simply as an amusement park, to some it represents a painful manifestation of past militarist and conformist propaganda.


Fascinated by this idealized representation of culture, directors Edwin and Thomas Østbye set out with a camera to capture life unfolding within this controlled setting. Their film is presented here as an archipelago of impressions.


You, the audience, are invited to build new islands by stealing clips for your own film, using our custom-built editor. As you steal our clips, the original film will be destroyed and the archipelago will gradually disintegrate making way for a new living map. At 17000 Islands, people enter into dialogue by bringing their unique perspectives on reality.


17000 Islands lets Chrome and Firefox users on desktop computers and laptops tell their stories through image, text, and recorded voice-over. To learn more about Taman Mini and take part in discussions around this project, follow our blog and like our Facebook page.


This project is supported by the Norwegian Film Institute / Stig Andersen and CPH:DOX:LAB. Produced by Thomas Østbye PlymSerafin