Banned Movie Promised Paradise

Mar 21st, 2008, in News, by

Lairedion on the banned movie about the Bali bombings, “Promised Paradise”.

Promised Paradise (2006)

Last week I was checking the hard disk of my DVD recorder and I rediscovered one of my favourite small independent movies I recorded from Dutch television back in November 2006.

Promised Paradise is a movie made by Dutch filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich and portrays Agus Nur Amal, a Jakarta-based puppeteer and troubadour of Acehnese descent. Like in his theatre shows, humour is his main weapon. Before an audience of children, we see him enact the attack on the World Trade Center inside a gigantic “TV set”. The doll of Osama Bin Laden swaying his hips gets his audience roaring with laughter. But people stop laughing when his shadow play about the WTC disaster changes into images of new bomb attacks in Indonesia – first on the Australian Embassy in September 2004, and later in Bali in October 2005. Agus travels to Bali to call to account the people who were responsible for the bomb attack on the Sari Disco Club in Kuta on 12 October 2002.

Agus Nur Amal making fun with a puppet Osama bin Laden

Director Leonard Retel Helmrich uses ingenious editing to have Agus talk with Imam Samudra, the brain behind the attack in a “TV interview”. Later Agus consults Leo Lumanto, a paranormal advisor and asks him about the ultimate fate of the perpetrators of the suicide attack. “Their heaven is our hell”, is the conclusion. But while Agus is in Bali, his friend Endang, who is still in Jakarta, falls prey to intolerance and violence.


The movie premiered in Asia at the Jakarta International Film Festival in December 2006 but was forbidden immediately by Indonesian authorities because of the displaying of Imam Samudra and the alleged spreading of dangerous and bad ideologies.

Leonard Retel Helmrich

Leonard Retel Helmrich, with mixed Dutch-Indonesian-Jewish blood, also directed The Eye of the Day (2001), Shape of the Moon (2004) and the upcoming Shape of the Stars, a trilogy about an Indonesian Christian family in Jakarta against the background of reformation protests and growing influence of Islam in the world’s largest Muslim nation. Promised Paradise, as well as other movies of Helmrich, can be watched online (see link). A broadband internet connection is required to watch the streamed content smoothly.


Watch Promised Paradise online on Holland Doc Docs on demand: Indonesië

Leonard Retel Helmrich on

Interview with Agus Nur Amal

Leo Lumanto homepage

13 Comments on “Banned Movie Promised Paradise”

  1. Mehameha says:

    Thanks for the lead. I tried to watch the movies. It started out fine but after a few minutes it froze and the screen kept on flashing ‘buffering’ message. Tried both on my Mac and PC, same results. Could you possibly know the reason? PS: I am using 100Mbps fibre connection.

  2. Lairedion says:


    I don’t know. It’s an external link. I expected people having trouble watching the movie, at least those Indonesia-based as IT-infrastructure is not fit yet for widescale broadband internet. As for you with a 100 Mbit connection that shouldn’t be a problem so I cannot tell you why it’s buffering.

    I call upon everybody having trouble watching the movie to report this at my e-mail address I will burn the movie to a DVD (my DVD recorder doesn’t have a LAN-connection :-() and put the DVD online on several platforms (usenet, public torrent) and just an plain image file from my own pc at home. I will shrink the output file to keep the amount of MB’s acceptable. Once the movie is downloadable I reply to you with links to the download sites.

  3. Riyoz says:

    hmm….downloadin’ time…:)

  4. Pena Budaya says:

    Thanks for the link! Hartelijk bedankt!

  5. Lairedion says:

    No thanks. Did you manage to watch the movie?

  6. Peter says:

    Hey I saw that movie on satellite tv last year, it was really good. But wait Agus didn’t actually talk to Imam Samudra – it was just editing? That is probably the most powerful part of the film, especially when Agus asks Samudra: “You knew some of the bombers well. So tell me, do you sleep well at night? Or do your dead friends visit you?”

  7. Lairedion says:


    Agree. That was the best part. Watching Imam Samudra silenced with tears in his eyes after all his crap talk about Islam, jihad, crusades etc.

    I do believe Agus talked with Imam Samudra. The editing made this part indeed so powerful.

    Thanks for your comment.

  8. Lairedion says:

    It seems that too many people located outside the Netherlands have trouble watching the movie so I put it online on the following link:

    First you must download all 4 parts and extract them with Winrar ( The movie itself is in .ivr format which can be viewed with the free Real Player (

    Later I will put other Helmrich movies online.

    Peter, I’m not quite sure Agus actually talked directly to Imam Samudra…

  9. Merja says:

    You wouldn’t know of the chance for English subtitles? I saw this once on a documentary film festival, where they had them.

  10. loco says:

    Thx a lot for sharing this great film. I was in Nyon last year and Helmrich said, thrde was no contact between Agus and Samudra. He did it with editing…

    Could you put other film of Helmrich online? It is almost impossible to have his movie..

  11. Lairedion says:


    I will. I need to find time to upload the other movies. Send me an e-mail to and I will notify you once they have been uploaded.

  12. rani says:

    Thank you so much for the link. I’m looking for these movies for ages. Well, two and a half year, actually, since I watched Stand van de Maan in Jiffest. Love his works!

  13. Pak G says:

    Just saw Promised Paradise on cable LinkTV, here in San Francisco.
    It’s a powerful and beautiful movie.
    I want to watch it again on the link on this page.

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