A family grapples with poverty, mental illness and the sex trade (34 min)

Shot over the course of 12 years, Stand­ing on the Edge of a Thorn explores the rural ori­gins of the Indone­sian sex trade. The film is nar­rated by Lisa Ariyani, the daugh­ter of Imam Rohani—a retired civil ser­vant strug­gling with a men­tal disorder—and Tri Suryani, an unwed preg­nant teenager.

Trapped by tra­di­tional val­ues that stig­ma­tize their rela­tion­ship, Tri is even­tu­ally lead into a life of pros­ti­tu­tion and vio­lence. It is against this unsta­ble fam­ily back­drop that Lisa matures into a young woman and the film doc­u­ments her strug­gle to under­stand her par­ents’ predica­ments while she her­self is being drawn into the sex trade.

I feel my life isn’t going anywhere. Javanese people say it’s like ‘Standing on the Edge of a Thorn.’ I could fall at any time.
— Tri



Robert Lemelson

Robert Lemelson is a cultural anthropologist, ethnographic filmmaker and philanthropist. Lemelson received his M.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles. Lemelson’s area of specialty is transcultural psychiatry; Southeast Asian Studies, particularly Indonesia; and psychological and medical anthropology. He currently is a research anthropologist in the Semel Institute of Neuroscience UCLA, an adjunct professor of Anthropology at UCLA., and a visiting professor at USC.

Alessandra Pasquino

Alessandra Pasquino is a filmmaker and producer of documentaries, commercials, and special projects. She has collaborated with many artists and celebrities including: Oliver Stone, Wayne Wang, Klaus Kinski, Gregory Colbert, Leonardo Di Caprio, Pietro Scalia and Matthew Rolston. She is currently developing documentary projects both with Elemental Productions and independently.

Wing Ko

Director of Photography

Wing Ko has collaborated with a who’s who of modern artists, musicians and filmmakers. He worked with Spike Jonze on several music videos and edited the pilot for MTV’s “Jackass.” Wing helped create more than 80 music videos for Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Public Enemy and other top bands of the time. For more than 15 years he has traveled around the world and crewed skateboard videos.

Chisako Yokoyama


Born in Mie Prefecture, Japan. As a graduate of the University of California, Chisako began her motion picture career in Hollywood as an Editor’s Assistant. She met Oscar-Winning editor, Pietro Scalia, and has been involved with the editing of many memorable films such as; "Good Will Hunting", "Gladiator", "Hannibal", "Black Hawk Down", "Memoir of a Geisha" and "American Gangster".

Mike Mallen


Mike Mallen is a New York based Editor and Motion Graphics Artist. His knowledge in production is grounded by 10 years of professional experience in Los Angeles, during which time he collaborated on a Documentary with two-time Oscar award winning editor Pietro Scalia, edited a series nominated in the 2010 International Documentary Association awards, helped clear the music for The Darjeeling Limited and directed a short film which premiered with professional surfer Rob Machado's The Drifterat the New York Surf Film Festival. Mike has worked for such brands as Jack Daniels, New Balance, Krave, Progressive, PUR Water Filters, Angie's List and American Eagle and Networks including Showtime, VICE, MSNBC, MTV and VH1.

Malcolm Cross

Music Composer

Malcolm Cross BSc Mus. Studied music performance and composition in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, additional Post Graduate studies in Jazz and Studio Music. Malcolm has been a professional composer for film, television and stage since 1996. His original film scores include ‘Insomniac Obsession’ (directed by Paul Cameron Carter/PS Films) and ‘Oh Saigon’, a feature-length documentary for Sundance Channel directed by Doan Hoang, ‘I Dream of Dog’ an independent comedy short directed by Jessica Rice and ‘The Grey’, a supernatural thriller directed by Norman Trotter IV.