Negeri 5 Menara (2012)
In mid 1988 Alif is about to graduate from the junior high school. With his bestfriend, Randai, he dreams to go to a famous high school in Bukittinggi and then to ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology). But his Amak (mother) wants him to go to Pondok Madani, a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in a corner of Ponorogo, East Java. Alif revolts but finally half-heartedly gives in to his parents’ wish.
Arriving in Pondok Madani, he sees the place as a backwater as well as a prison for its rigid rules and the obligation for an adaptation class for a year. Alif is often alone. But with time he makes friends with his room mates, Baso from Gowa, Atang from Bandung, Raja from Medan, Said from Surabaya and Dulmajid from Madura. The six of them always hang out together at the foot of the minaret and name themselves Sahibul Menara, or the tower owners.
In the first class, the atmosphere gets lively as Alif is jolted by spirited yells from the ustadz (teacher): Man Jadda Wajada! It means: whoever does something persistently will succeed. This mantra serves as the fuel for the six friends’ dreams. One afternoon they gaze at the clouds and say their wishes to go abroad. Alif sees the American continent from the clouds. Raja looks at Europe, Atang draws Africa. Dulmajid and Said see Indonesia while Baso Asia. Alif’s mantra then shifts its aim from the intention to get out of Pondok Madani to the persistence to pursue his dreams.