Standing on the Edge of a Thorn

A family grapples with poverty, mental illness and the sex trade

Shot over the course of 12 years, Standing on the Edge of a Thorn explores the rural origins of the Indonesian sex trade. The film is narrated by Lisa Ariyani, the daughter of Imam Rohani—a retired civil servant struggling with a mental disorder—and Tri Suryani, an unwed pregnant teenager.

Trapped by traditional values that stigmatize their relationship, Tri is eventually lead into a life of prostitution and violence. It is against this unstable family backdrop that Lisa matures into a young woman and the film documents her struggle to understand her parents’ predicaments while she herself is being drawn into the sex trade.

33 min

Director: Robert Lemelson
Producer: Robert Lemelson, Alessandra Pasquino
Director of Photography: Wing Ko
Editor: Chisako Yokoyama
Consulting Editor: Pietro Scalia
Music Composer: Malcolm Cross



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Standing on the Edge of a Thorn