Garin Nugroho is closely involved in questions of politics and freedom and in his films he often tackles the complex relationship between the various ethnic groups in Indonesia and the central government in Jakarta. A Poet for instance, screened in 2001 in Rotterdam, was largely set in the rebellious province of Acheh in the 1960s. The poetic Birdman Tale focuses on a different topical issue in Indonesian society. It is a committed yet light-hearted quest for the identity of the Papuans, their desire for freedom, their customs and idiosyncrasies. The mysterious and fairytale Birdman from the title is Bertold, a teacher of traditional dance and supporter of Theys Eluay, the advocate of independence for West Papua who tried in a non-violent way to find a solution and who was killed in 2000. When Eluay is arrested, Bertold also has to go into hiding. His son Arnold (15) becomes fascinated by a mysterious, confused Javanese woman he met at the harbour. Parts of the film are documentary, such as an encounter between Nugroho and Theys Eluay, but the poetic, fictional parts are set against a background of historic facts. This is the first Indonesian film with Papuans in the leading roles and filmed on location. Nugroho uses Papuan storytelling styles, images and motifs to tell their own story, celebrating them at the same time. The result is unusual and quirky, captivating in an unexpected way.