IT was the biggest celebration of Indonesian screen culture in the city. Regina Karis shares the highlights from the recently concluded Indonesian Film Festival.
Founded in 2006 by Ronald Wicaksana and assisted by Zendi Tjandra, the Indonesian Film Festival (IFF) was started as a way of boosting cultural interaction between Australia and Indonesia.
Today, the film festival boasts a loyal following, and has carved out a place for itself on Melbourne’s multicultural events calendar.
A week-long affair, there was barely enough days in the week to catch the eight films that were showing at the film festival this year.
From heartrending romances to psychological thrillers and social-political documentaries, the handpicked selection of films certainly did not disappoint.
A man awakes in a dark and mysterious forest in Modus Anomali. Two unlikely people bridge the distance between them to friendship and eventually love in Hello Goodbye. Di Balik Frekuensi revealed the state of the Indonesian media in an artistic, captivating way. In Mika, a girl with scoliosis and a boy with AIDS fall head-over-heels for each other and enter a relationship that can only be tragic.
At the screening of Mika, spotted among the audience were local university students Chloe Dallas, Jack Shepherd, and Jack MacKintosh – all of whom have a passion for the Indonesian language. For Chloe and Jack, it was their second time attending IFF, and they tell Meld they expect this to become an annual tradition.
At the IFF film workshop, Joko Anwar, Sheila Timothy, and Tia Hasibuan of Modus Anomali talked at length about film production. Drawing from their personal experiences, they led workshop participants on their journey – from the film’s inception to the process of brainstorming, writing, directing, producing, to the marketing of the film.
Anwar, who has always resisted being ‘boxed’ as a single-genre director, has worked hard to work on films across a range of genres. He had a sound piece of advice he has for all budding filmmakers out there – know what you want and work towards the goal you’ve set for yourself.
“Planning is crucial. You have to have a goal, what kind of filmmaker you want to be remembered as when you die,” he told participants.
To prove his point, he showed a short film he produced in a day with the help of Hasibuan and a crew of only eight people: Durable Love, which is thematically and atmospherically different to his psychological thriller title, Modus Anomali.
One didn’t have to be a film aficionado to take away something from this workshop session. The trio’s passion for their work and their contribution to the Indonesian film industry along with the depth of their knowledge and their utmost willingness to share it with those interested, was very inspiring.
Actors, directors and producers paid a visit to Melbourne specially for the film festival.
It was exciting to see so many faces virtually every night of the festival, including Titien Wattimena, director of Hello Goodbye, Ucu Agustin, director of media documentary Di Balik Frekuensi, Vino Bastian, lead actor in the film Mika, and Marcella Zalianty, director and producer of IFF’s closing film Rectoverso.
Visitors had the chance to poke fun at plot points in a friendly open-discussion setting, rub shoulders and have their photos taken with these industry big names. More importantly, they had the chance to ask questions and raise issues about the films they had just watched, such as reception by the Indonesian audience, the implications the films had on Indonesian cinema, and others.
Michelle Mulyono, Project Manager of IFF was very happy with how the festival turned out this year.
“We are glad that not just Indonesians, but also locals, are giving out lots of support towards this annual event,” she said.
“Next year, hopefully IFF can attract more locals so that it can achieve its long-term goal of strengthening the ties between the two neighbouring countries—Indonesia and Ausralia—and of course to expand to other Australian states in order to achieve that goal.”
Missed the 8th IFF? Don’t worry, the festival will be back next year and organisers have promised it will be even better than this one. For updates, subscribe to IFF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, or check the official Indonesian Film Festival website.