INDONESIAN cinema has typically been associated with “weird movies” like sensual horror films. But the organisers of the Indonesian Film Festival tell Marcella Purnama they’ve witnessed a breakthrough.
Indonesian cinema has long been associated with sensual, horror, and irrelevant content. But the managers of this year Melbourne’s Indonesian Film Festival, Andrew Aditya and Kemal Cesar, have witnessed a breakthrough.
“Honestly, I think that Indonesian cinema has been going through a lot of vast improvements,” Andrew says.
“Looking a couple of years back, sure, there are a lot of weird Indonesian movies such as sensual horror films.
“However, if we see the trend now, it’s like the producers and directors have been getting their momentum. For example, last year’s Boy’s diary and The Raid have been screened internationally. One even went to Hollywood!”
Kemal shares this view, saying Indonesian producers and directors are ready to go to the next level.
Indonesian producers and directors are eager to make movies that are more insightful and meaningful concerning issues around the country.”
“And year after year, the progress keeps on increasing.”
While there has been warm reception to Indonesian movies by international crowds, the industry hasn’t been receiving much support back home.
“We acknowledge that one of the problems of Indonesian cinema not progressing is not from the supply side, but from the demand,” Andrew says.
“Our Indonesian market itself is not ready yet for something that is quite sophisticated.
“Let’s say, even in terms of revenue in business, with a budget of 500million Rupiahs, a producer can make a horror movie that is able to generate revenue three times the size of their budget.
The supplier is ready, but the market is not.”
Andrew further emphasises how popular horror movies are in Indonesia. While there are a lot of good, meaningful Indonesian movies, they are not able to compete with others just yet.
“For example, cinemas in suburban areas are likely to screen horror movies, as they target low to middle class people,” Andrew says.
“On the other hand, cinemas in the city are more likely to screen Hollywood movies. So good Indonesian movies have hard competition in both the city and suburban cinemas.
“However, there is good news. Statistically, Indonesian film productions have increased its numbers compared to the imported movies.
Slowly, Indonesians will be aware of their own local, good quality movies.”
Nevertheless, as Melbourne is a multicultural city, Indonesian movies are always accepted with open hands.
“Seeing from previous years’ experiences, the reception is good, both from the locals and Indonesians,” Kemal says.
“Indonesians themselves miss watching Indonesian movies, and they come to IFF.
And the locals, especially the ones who appreciate and love movies, are curious to know about Indonesian culture – what lessons can be learned, what issues are presented, and what characteristics does Indonesian culture present.”
One only needs to look at the various film festivals Melbourne has hosted – including Macedonian, Korean, Indian, and Singaporean, among others – to know he’s right. Melbourne has a large, segmented market that can consume different types of cinema – including Indonesian.
This year, the Indonesian Film Festival hopes to showcase the archipelago’s culture beyond the big screen as well.
“We are not here to just offer our culture through movies, but we also want to show our hospitality when the screening is held,” Kemal says.
“Being friendly and hospitable to the audience is an important thing for us as IFF committees.”
Meld Magazine is a media partner for the Indonesian Film Festival and we have double passes to Dilemma, Lovely Man, and Mama Cake to give away. Find out more here.