Jakarta. Lola Amaria's latest project, "Lima" ("Five"), brings five directors, including herself, to weave together five stories about Indonesia's five-tenet state ideology Pancasila into a moving family drama. The movie, after a brief delay at the censors, was released in time for Pancasila Day on June 1.
Aside from Lola, the directors involved in the omnibus are award-winning documentary filmmaker Salahuddin Siregar ("The Land Beneath the Fog") making his fiction debut, Tika Pramesti, Havan Agustriansyah and Adriyanto Dewanto.
The script is written by Sinar Ayu Massie ("Tiga Hari Untuk Selamanya") and Titien Wattimena ("Mengejar Matahari").
Salahuddin opened Lima, a 90-minute feature, with his take on Pancasila's first tenet, "Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa" ("Belief in One God"), telling the story of a family grieving from the death of its matriarch, Maryam (Tri Yudiman).
Drama ensued after Maryam's death – note that her name is the Islamic name for the Virgin Mary – with the local mosque refusing to hold prayers for her since she had once converted to become a Christian, though she had come back to her Muslim faith before her death.
Her three children Fara (Prisia Nasution), Aryo (Yoga Pratama) and Adi (Baskara Mahendra), who are Muslims and Christians, also fought over which religious rituals should be performed at Maryam's funeral.
This section of Lima ended with Maryam's Christian relatives singing a church song as her body is lowered into the ground and her Muslim relatives chant Islamic prayers.
Elisa Laura, who saw the movie at Plaza Senayan on Wednesday (06/06), told The Jakarta Globe she relates most to the first story in Lima.
"I grew up in a family with different religions and I've faced the same challenges. I've learned that when we're faced with differences we have to learn about them and understand them. There's really no place for ignorance and intolerance," she said.
The other stories in the film, which are seamlessly woven together with Maryam's family as the main thread, also expose racial discrimination against Indonesian-Chinese, human rights violations, corruption and injustice in Indonesia's legal system.
Some of the stories were based on popular media reports, including a shoplifter being burnt alive by a mob and a boy being threatened with a jail sentence for stealing cacao fruits.
Baskara who plays Maryam's youngest son, the sensitive boy Adi in the film, told The Jakarta Globe Pancasila is not just a set of principles to be committed to memory, it has to be practiced in real life.
"Pancasila is the foundation of our country. We need to understand it, and then practice it. This film is part of that [effort to understand Pancasila]. The stories are relatable to everyone. I hope people can learn as much from them as I did," Baskara said.
Deus, who also saw the movie at Plaza Senayan last Thursday, said Lima sheds light on many recent events in Indonesia.
"Lima perfectly describes our society now. It's such an eye-opening story, reminding us that we need to be more tolerant of others," he said.
Andika Rinaldo, the marketing manager of messaging app LINE Indonesia, who collaborated with Baskara for a LINE web series titled "Ramadhan Terakhir" ("Last Ramadan"), said Lima is a breath of fresh air in an Indonesian film industry dominated by commercial box-office affairs.
Lima has to share screen space with the latest installments in the Indonesian horror franchises "Jailangkung" and "Kuntilanak" during the Lebaran holiday season this month.
"I've never seen an Indonesian movie that digs so deep into all the principles of Pancasila. The film gives us a very thorough explanation of what Pancasila is all about and fine examples of how we can practice it in real life," Andika said.
Problem With Censors
Days before Lima's premiere, Indonesia’s notoriously heavy-handed Film Censorship Board (LSF) reportedly was still complaining that the multi-faith theme of its first part might be too controversial for some.
According a Tempo magazine interview with Lola last month, LSF had asked the director and producer to revise the first story in the movie for fear of "causing a controversy."
In the end the board decided to give Lima a 17+ rating, which meant primary and high-school students – the film's main target market – will not be able to see it legally.
Lola said she was not given an explanation why LSF had decided on the more restrictive rating.
"They didn’t tell me. I wanted the less restrictive 13+ but they gave us 17+," she said.
Despite its problems with the censors, Lima has been doing surprisingly well at the box office.
Since its premiere on May 31, the film has attracted more than 58,000 viewers and been shown on 30 cinema screens all over Indonesia.
"We had 58,000 people seeing Lima in the first three days. That number should be even higher now," Lola said last week.
Prior to the film premiere, a number of community organizations also held their own screenings of Lima. They include Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (Ansor Youth, the youth wing of Indonesia's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama), Ibu-Ibu Bhayangkari (organization of police officers's wives), a group from the Ministry of Finance and school groups.
"I didn't organize the community screenings. The organizations did it themselves. I found out about them on social media after Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held her own screening for Lima," Lola said.
Lima is still playing at XXI cinemas in Jakarta, Bekasi and Bandung. In Jakarta, it's playing at Blok M Square, Gading, Kemang Village, Plaza Senayan, St. Moritz and TIM.
Additional reporting by Dhania Sarahktika