Garin Nugroho Goes Into Ethnicity in New Film 'Mooncake'

Garin Nugroho, second right, returns to the big screen with "Mooncake." (JG Photo/Lisa Siregar)

By : Lisa Siregar | on 9:31 PM March 21, 2017
Category : Life & Style, Arts & Culture

Jakarta. Filmmaker Garin Nugroho tells the lives of two families of different ethnicity and social status in his upcoming drama "Mooncake."

Starring Morgan Oey as David and Bunga Citra Lestari as Asih, "Mooncake" looks into the bonds of friendship, which are possible even in the most adverse circumstances.

The film is set in 2016, jockeys are seen working on Jakarta roads during the peak hours of the three-in-one traffic (the "three-in-one" rule used to restrict cars' access to certain streets based on their number of occupants). Asih is a single mother who spends her mornings and evenings working as a jockey. She encounters David when the young businessman from a successful Chinese Indonesian family is in need of an extra passenger.

Before Asih accepts her fee, a police raid on jockeys forces her to run away. Driven by guilt for not paying the jockey, David makes an extra drive around Jakarta's poor neighborhoods to find Asih's home and fulfill his responsibility.

The title of the drama refers to a traditional Chinese cake made and eaten during the lunar New Year. Eating a mooncake is believed to bring good luck. After seeing the conditions in which Asih lives, David advises her to bake and sell mooncakes to earn extra money. He is willing to share his mother's recipe and rent a shop for Asih.

The most important in making the movie was, according to Garin, showing the status difference between David and Asih in the most natural, not cartoonish, way.

The cake symbol, however, remains ambiguous.

"The cake has various meanings, but it is mostly about survival. At its core, this film talks about the love for mankind," Garin said.

He added that mooncakes were made by warriors who attempted to fight the Mongolian rulers of China.

According to Bunga, the drama takes an unexpected turn, because it is not a love story in an ordinary sense.

"Well, it is a love story, but in a different form, and not a romantic one. This film depicts friendship between two persons of different religions, social status and ethnicity. The message is diversity and I am happy I could take part in it," she said.

Later in the story, David has to deal with Alzheimer's disease. Morgan said this required him to dig deeper into the role, for which he spent two weeks on workshops and meetings with Alzheimer's patients.

"I didn't know of the phases the Alzheimer's patients have to go through. I am glad I could help in spreading the awareness. After all, film is a  portrayal of life, while acting we learn about life," he said.

"Mooncake" is produced by MVP Pictures and Tahir Foundation. Executive producer Dato' Sri Tahir said saw the story as a call to solve the problem of poverty in Indonesia.

He also said that he did not seek to produce a commercial romance film.

"This is not a romance film, we see films as something more than just entertainment. Films must be able to inspire the audience," Tahir said, adding that 50 percent of the movie revenue will be donated to Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

"Mooncake" will enter Indonesian cinemas on Thursday (23/03).

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