Yogyakarta. Actress Tutie Kirana knows that in countries like Indonesia, there is no easy way around the topic of mature women's desires for physical intimacy.
The star of "About a Woman," which was screened during the special program Teddy Soeriaatmadja's Way at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (JAFF) in Yogyakarta on Sunday, showcases her most vulnerable side as she plays Dayu, a 65-year-old widow who falls in love with Abi, a young man played by actor Rendy Ahmad.
The 63-year old actress has been acting in numerous television and feature films since the 1970s, but she said the theme in About a Woman is the first of its kind for her.
Tutie talks to Jakarta Globe about the challenges of the role and her decision to restrain from filming certain intimate scenes.
Q: Did you overcome any challenges to play Dayu?
A: It was difficult because I am a woman from an Eastern culture. My husband and son kept reminding me that I am an actress, and I am not in the film as their wife or mother. It was hard. I was always negotiating about the techniques with Teddy the entire time we were filming. It was supposed to come out stronger (then the final version on screen) and there were intimate scenes, such as kissing, but I told him it was not possible. I cannot do much about the content of the script because it's Teddy's prerogative as the director, but in terms of techniques, I always tried to tone it down.
What were the scenes that you decided not to film?
I made sure there were cut scenes. It would not be possible to film the entire thing. ... But I suppose people will understand what the scene is trying to suggest.
There were giggles from the audience during the screening. How did you feel about it?
Well, it is an interesting theme. Women at my age are often put in a box where we are supposedly just waiting for the day we die. If people laugh at those intimate scenes, well, I don't know, it has something to do with their background, knowledge and soul. For me, when I put myself in Dayu's shoes, I felt heartache. The story is a really sad one for me, because I myself would not be able to bear such loneliness. Even now, when my husband is away, I will not stop calling him and asking him about his whereabouts.
What kind of message do you hope to deliver by taking this role?
I hope the younger generation will be able to appreciate their mothers and grandmothers and give them the affection they need. In the film, Dayu acts like she does not want attention, and that she is fine all by herself, but it was actually a lie. And because Dayu and Abi see each other every day, they started to feel something, and for Dayu, sexual desire is something that has been long dead for her and now she is sort of awakened, and that is possible to happen.