Jakarta. After the critically-acclaimed film "Siti," which won the best picture prize at the 2015 Festival Film Indonesia, filmmaker Ifa Isfansyah returns with another character-driven drama called "Turah," or "Leftovers."
The 83-minute drama is a feature debut by Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo, who is better known as Wisnu, Ifa's long time assistant director since he directed "Sang Penari" ("The Dancer") in 2011.
It won two awards at the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, or JAFF, and received a special mention at the 2016 Singapore International Film Festival.
The film will be featured at Film Musik Makan on March 4 at Goethe-Institut in Jakarta.
Ifa, who is also a film producer, said he is always looking out for aspiring directors to help them cultivate their talent. Speaking at a media gathering in Jakarta on Thursday (16/02), Ifa said the film almost did not go into production because he could not trust Wisnu with the project.
Wisnu handed his first script of "Turah" to Ifa when they were filming "Pendekar Tongkat Emas" ("Golden Cane Warrior") in 2014.
"Turah" puts the spotlight on Kampung Tirang, a small village in Tegalsari, a port town in Tegal on the north coast of Java, where ten families live with no clean water and limited electricity.
The villagers live in dilapidated shacks in a patch of land surrounded by sea water with no proper access to the mainland.
The story follows Turah, played by the actor Ubaidillah, a diligent, hard-working man, and what happened to him and his fellow villagers after he was appointed as a village headman by the local co-op leader, Darso, played by Yono Daryono.
When alcoholic neighbor Jadag, played by Slamet Ambari, heard the news, he questioned Turah's credentials as a headman, an act that eventually leads to unexpected drama for the villagers.
However, the plot failed to impress Ifa.
"I always see Wisnu as a very funny guy from Tegal [in Central Java], so I thought 'Turah was quite pretentious. I thought Wisnu was just trying to make a movie that would make him look cool. I wanted to produce director-driven films so I wanted directors to stay true to themselves," he said.
He suggested that Wisnu abandon the project and work on something else. In the two years that followed, Wisnu wrote four other scripts ranging from drama to comedy, but Ifa was still not satisfied.
"We somehow kept returning to 'Turah,' so when Wisnu could not seem to deliver other stories of substance, that's when I knew he really put his heart in 'Turah.' So the problem was not really Wisnu, but was with me, as a producer," Ifa said.
Ifa said "Turah" is unlikely to open in theaters nationwide as he prefers to present the film at film festivals or at events such as Film Musik Makan.
Film Musik Makan tickets cost Rp 200,000 ($15) per person.