Tu Harimau (That's the Tiger)

Hearing, seeing and smelling are the avenues of perception that fundamentally shape the story of the rubber collector Edi Purnomo, just as the flora and fauna shape the Malayan jungle. The tiger can smell humans at a distance of two kilometres; its sudden appearance silences the birds and monkeys, and just catching the corner of the "eye of the tiger" makes them fall from the trees: Says Edi, who works to protect the forest on the Perak State Reserved Forest on the west coast of Malaysia, which is threatened by illegal loggers. In his narrative, which we hear in voiceover, his observations are intermixed with sensory knowledge and oral history. Katharina Copony presents his words in the form of a “poem” with three stanzas and a refrain: Tu Harimau (That is the tiger). It can be read on black text panels, which simultaneously serve as subtitles and caesura in the Super 8 footage.

Hearing and seeing are likewise the avenues of perception that shape the film. The soundtrack is in fact a soundscape of jungle noises which, although captured as a field recording, underpins the images like a written score. Tu Harimau, shot in March 2020 in grainy black-and-white on a trip to Malaysia, is a portrait of Edi. Copony accompanies the man during his work in the jungle, where listening to his surroundings is vital. He is shown scouting out the forest, collecting rubber, waiting patiently and smoking. As he leans against a tree and the shadows of the fan-like foliage cast tiger stripes on his face, camouflage flows into an emerging transformation.

Copony’s film poem was created in collaboration with the artist Shooshie Sulaiman and MAIX, a collective founded in 2014 that is dedicated to environmental issues. In 2017, MAIX bought a plot of land in the rain forest which also has a tiger trail passing through it, and entrusted it to Edi’s care. Tu Harimau takes this real story and lets it interact with the elements of the landscape and the cinema. (Esther Buss)

Translation: Malcolm Green

Orig. Title
Tu Harimau (That's the Tiger)
Austria, Malaysia
10 min 25 sec
Katharina Copony
Documentary, Experimental
Orig. Language
Indonesian Malay
Tu_Harimau_01 (Image)
Tu_Harimau_01 (Image)
Tu_Harimau_01 (Image)
Katharina Copony
Katharina Copony
Katharina Copony
in collaboration with
Shooshie Sulaiman, MAIX
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby 5.1.
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format