Tales of the Waria

Four transgender women search for love and intimacy in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
56 mins
Closed captioning available Audio description available
Remote video URL


Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population. It is also home to the "warias," a community of biological men who live openly as women. In this eye-opening PBS documentary, four warias search for romance and intimacy. They encounter a host of obstacles-- family pressures, economic burdens, aging-- but strive to stay true to themselves and to find lasting companionship. Shot over three years with the local queer community serving as story consultants and film crew members, the film provides an unprecedented look into topics rarely discussed in Western media: Indonesia, Islamic culture, and the daily life and struggles of transgender communities around the world.

Featured review

A fascinating exposé.
The Advocate
The Advocate


The beauty and honesty are heartbreaking.
The most realistic depiction of transgender Indonesians I have ever encountered. The film has much to teach us about love, belonging, and the diversity of ways to live a human life.
Tom Boellstorff
Professor of Anthropology, UC Irvine, and author of Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia
Beautiful, unsettling and thoroughly engaging.... the best film I have seen for teaching about the cultural construction of gender and sexuality.
Leslie Dwyer
Professor of Conflict Analysis and Anthropology, George Mason University

Awards and Screenings

PBS National Broadcast, Global Voices
Best Documentary Feature, San Diego Asian Film Festival
Audience Choice Award, Asian American International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award, Barcelona Int’l Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Frameline Film Festival
Society for Visual Anthropology Film & Video Festival
Association for Asian Studies Film Expo

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Audio Description
  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Subtitles
  • Transcript
  • Resources for Educators

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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