Mbah Jhiwo

Mbah Jhiwo / Ancient Soul
The plot is simple, even archetypical, that’s why it lends itself so well to being repeated. Yono is a sulphur miner living in eastern Java. One day, his wife Oliv leaves him, and he tries to get her back. Another day, his mother falls ill, and he tries to get her well. The plot’s outcome is unchanged with every repetition, although the three resultant variants are far from identical, as one of the belief systems that usually inform life in conjunction is brought to the fore each time: animism, Islam and finally capitalism. Oliv is thus to be won back via magic, pilgrimage or Facebook, while the cure for Yono’s mother lies in ceremony, prayer or simple vital signs. Greenery gives way to billboards and neon, and cryptocurrency and mobile phones cast new spells, even if each fresh facet teased out of the setting contributes to a portrait of one and the same place. Regardless of what’s practised around it, the mountain keeps spewing sulphurous smoke, making outlines indistinct and boundaries blur, like the film itself: a billowing, uncategorisable cloud of anthropology, parable, metaphysics, observation and collaboration, where even the filmmakers themselves briefly come into view.
by Alvaro Gurrea
with Yono Aris Munandar, Sayu Kholif, Musaena'h, Ach. Efendi, Nurussalam
Spain 2021 Osing,  Subtitles: English 93’ Colour


  • Yono Aris Munandar
  • Sayu Kholif
  • Musaena'h
  • Ach. Efendi
  • Nurussalam
  • Roni Hidayat


Written and Directed byAlvaro Gurrea
CinematographyAlvaro Gurrea
EditingManuel Muñoz Rivas
Sound DesignAlejandra Molina Rios
SoundTommy Tomjar
Production DesignCarolina Díez-Cascón
CostumesCarolina Díez-Cascón
Assistant DirectorYopie Nugraha
Production ManagerNurussalam
ProducerRocio Mesa

Produced by

My Deer Films

Granada, Spain

+1 818 4413663

Alvaro Gurrea

Born in 1988 in Barcelona, Spain. He has a Master’s in Creative Documentary and spends extended periods of time in Indonesia, where he shot his first feature-length film Mbah Jhiwo with a rural community in East Java.


2016 Crossboundaries; 10 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021


Thu Jun 10 21:30

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