Indonesian Film Festival 2011: A sneak peek

Rudi Soedjarwo's Border will open the Indonesian Film Festival

Rudi Soedjarwo's Border will open the Indonesian Film Festival

THE largest celebration of Indonesian screen culture in Australia is about to hit town.

Screening nine movies in seven days, the sixth Indonesian Film Festival will give movie lovers a chance to see what Indonesian cinema has to offer. The program includes a diversity of genres, including drama, thriller, religious, romance, family, documentary, as well as short films.

Festival manager Yolanda Yasinta says the week of screenings at ACMI cinema is a huge step from the festival’s humble beginnings, when it was founded by Melbourne University’s Indonesian Students’ Association in 2006.

“It’s amazing how we have come this far,” Yasinta says.

Sixth Indonesian Film Festival manager Yolanda Yasinta

Sixth Indonesian Film Festival manager Yolanda Yasinta

Going back to volunteer with the festival for the second time, the final year Melbourne University actuarial studies major says she enjoyed volunteering as the event documenter last year.

“I have developed a passion for movies since I was young,” Yasinta says.

“When my friend, who was the fifth Indonesian Film Festival manager, asked me whether or not I wanted to join, I just simply said yes.

“It is one of those golden opportunities where you can ask questions and learn straight from the pros.

“Now, it’s just days away from the event, and life’s never been so hectic. I receive endless emails and phone calls, slept at 5am yesterday…but I am so excited to see what the festival will be like.”

When asked about the recommended movies, Yasinta says with a laugh, “well technically, every movie is recommended, for sure.”

Judging by the high demand, Yasinta says Boy’s Diary (Catatan Harian si Boy) by Putrama Tuta has been one of the favourites. It tells a fictional story of romance and friendship between a group of young adults. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with the director and the main actors.

“It’s a very energetic movie, highly recommended,“ she adds.

The festival’s opening night will be marked by the screening of Border (Batas) directed by Rudi Soedjarwo, one of Indonesia’s most prominent filmmakers. The movie tells the story of Jaleswari, who is sent from Jakarta to the rural area of Kalimantan to promote modern education, but finds her assumptions challenged when she sees the value of the community’s traditions.

The film is largely based on real-life tensions.

“Conflicts happen, and they still happen between the local people living in rural areas of Kalimantan and the business politicians of metropolitan cities,” Yasinta says.

Another of the festival’s offerings, Question Mark (Tanda Tanya), is a spiritual yet controversial movie. Producer and director Hanung Bramantyo and casting director Zaskia Adya Mecca will attend the question and answer session after the screening.

“In this movie, we will see many scenes from the angles of Catholics, Muslims, Chinese, Javanese, and thus taste the rich diversity of elasticities and religions in Indonesia. However, instead that ideal ‘unity in diversity’, the film proposes conflicts between them,” Yasinta says.

Belkibolang, a combination of nine short movies directed by nine different producers, centres around the theme of nightlife in Jakarta. This movie has traveled the world well, from the Hong Kong International Film Festival to the Rotterdam International Film Festival to the Jakarta International Film Festival.

Belikbolang, a collection of nine short films, will screen at this year's Indonesian Film Festival

Belikbolang, a collection of nine short films, will screen at this year's Indonesian Film Festival

The Perfect House, a psychological thriller by Affandi Abdul Rachman, tells the suspenseful story of unexpected happenings in a house where a child and private tutor reside. The producer, Vera Lasut, will be coming for the question and answer session.

In addition to the screenings, a movie workshop will be held on Sunday, August 21. It will be lead by well known Indonesian director Aditya Gumay and scriptwriter Adenin Adlan.

Then comes the shorter movies.

Red Umbrella (Payung Merah), which has won the Asian Short Film Award 2011 in Singapore, is such a breakthrough, and we are so proud of it,” Yasinta says.

“Directed by Edward Gunawan, the 10 minute supernatural thriller narrates the story about a taxi driver at night, who was about to go home, but decided to take one last passenger.”

The other short movie is a documentary by Wisnu Adi titled A Story from The Border (Catatan dari Tapal Batas).

Further on the program, Indonesian Film Festival will also hold an educational session, screening A House Without a Window (Rumah Tanpa Jendela) for high school students who study the Indonesian language.

“We have chosen a G-rated movie on purpose, so that it will be suitable for all audience,” Yasinta says.

With a combination of movie genres, workshop and events, Yasinta hopes  the festival will have even higher standard this year, reaching out to Indonesian audiences as well as international ones.

“Through Indonesian Film Festival, we aim to promote and introduce Indonesia’s cultural diversity towards Australian crowd,” Yasinta says.

“Not only that, we also aim to change the views, especially the negative ones, about Indonesia,” she says. “Even though we are miles away from home, we can still support and show our love by promoting a piece of our culture towards the world.”

The Indonesian Film Festival 2011 runs from August 19 to August 25. Check out the festival website for more information.

The Indonesian Film Festival is giving a lucky Meld Magazine reader a double pass to The Perfect House, to be screened at ACMI cinemas, Federation Square, at 7:15pm on Sunday August 21. To enter the draw, simply email your name, address and contact number to pickme@meldmagazine.com.au, with the subject heading “Indonesian Film Festival”.

Deadline for entries is Tuesday August 16. Winners will be notified by email.

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