A Boarding School offers a deep insight into a traditional Islamic educational system based on a peaceful religious teaching that has been practiced in Indonesia for centuries.
The film is set in a large traditional Islamic boarding school in Cirebon, West Java—one of the few traditional Islamic boarding schools in the country run by a woman, Nyai Masriah Amva. Traditional Islamic boarding schools, known locally as pesantren, emphasise the autonomy of the students to think for themselves and to interpret scripture and modern knowledge in a way that is consistent with the teachings of Islam, rather than organise its studies as mere academic progression leading to graduation. Indonesia has been the world’s role model for the coexistence between Islam and democracy. Sadly, this peaceful home of diversity and tolerance is under threat, as conservative politics, fake news and religious extremism is growing its exponential influence. Contrary to common belief, many boarding schools are not the breeding place for terrorists. They are actually Indonesia’s last defense from turning into an Islamic state. A Boarding School aims to spark meaningful reflection on the wealth of wisdom in Islam that should not be single-mindedly defined by certain groups. The film also wants to advocate for an education system that is not based in academic results but also character-building and civic responsibilities. More importantly, the film wants to promote and strengthen peace and tolerance so we can build an inclusive future in Indonesia and all over the world.