Jakarta. A special program highlighting the work of director Djenar Maesa Ayu will be featured during the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival, which is set to take place in Yogyakarta from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.
Famous as both a writer and filmmaker, Djenar is known for her strong opinions on sexuality and sensuality. She has published six anthologies of short stories and rose to fame after the release of her short story, "Mereka Bilang Saya Monyet" ("They Say I'm a Monkey") in 2001. She followed it up with "Jangan Main-main (Dengan Kelaminmu)" ("Don't Play [With Your Genitals]") in 2003 and a novel titled "Nayla" in 2005.
Djenar, 43, has starred in several movies, such as "Koper" ("Suitcase") in 2006, "Anak-anak Borobudur" ("Children of Borobudur") in 2007, "Cinta Setaman" in 2008, "Ai Lop Yu Pul" and "Dikejar Setan" in 2009, "Melodi" in 2010 and "Purple Love" in 2011.
She has directed four feature movies: "Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!" in 2007, "Saia" in 2009, in which she also starred in the title role, "Nay" in 2015 and "hUsh" in 2016.
In 2009, Djenar received the Citra Award for best new director and best adapted screenplay with Indra Herlambang for her work in "Saia." In 2015, "Nay" received the Netpac Award at the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF), an award that is presented by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) to films by Asian directors "who make important contributions to the new Asian cinema."
Program director Ismail Basbeth said the festival is eager to host a focus program on Djenar because there are not many film directors like her.
"She is a writer, which means she has her own work method and a different thinking process. She made films based on her own works, her own stories. It's like her own autobiography, and she managed to turn her own personal stories into something that a lot of us can see," he said.
Djenar's latest directorial work, "hUsh," will have its Indonesian premiere at JAFF. The film is a collaboration with Australian film director Kan Lume, which follows an aspiring singer from Bali who moves to Jakarta in search of better opportunities in the music industry.
"For the first time, she is not turning her own story into a movie, and it should be interesting to see," Ismail said.
"hUsh" is competing with nine other Asian movies, including the Nicholas Saputra-led supernatural drama "Interchange" by Malaysian director Dain Iskandar Said and the Wiji Thukul biopic "Istirahatlah Kata-Kata" ("Solo, Solitude") by Yosep Anggi Noen, to win the festival's Golden Hanoman and Silver Hanoman awards.