Tales of the Waria

Tales of the Waria

67 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Asian / Pacific Islander, Documentary, Male-to-Female, Religion / Spirituality, South East Asian, Transgender
Programs: Documentaries, Transgender Film Focus

The vast island nation of Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, part of which is a singular community of men who live openly as women—the waria.

Before Islam came to South Sulawesi in the 17th century, it is said that the waria’s historical role was to care for the king. Despite their past prestige, the waria today are not as respected when it comes to love and marriage. Beauty salon worker Ria is one of many country boys who, ostracized in their villages for dressing as women, arrived in the city of Makassar to find many others like herself: biological men who identify as women but abide by the dictates of Islam not to undergo sex-change surgery (Botox, however, is fine). This intimate and engaging documentary follows four waria as they negotiate complicated personal lives in unexpected configurations. Can one be pals with the knowing wife of her policeman lover? With the temptation of a lucrative affair with a Westerner, how will a work stint in Bali turn out?

Tales of past and future heartbreak haunt them, but they all pursue love and happiness in the waria spirit. Tiara, who instructs contestants in catwalking at a waria supermodel pageant, sums it up: “God created me and my fellow warias to make this world more beautiful.”

Preceded by

Lesbian features the voices of four Muslim lesbians who are crossing barriers by speaking honestly about their sexual orientation and living their lives honestly while continuing to practice Islam. — FRAKO LODEN

Text Voting Codes:

Tales of the Waria: D327
Lesbian: S583

Co-presented by:


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