Maria (Maria Umboh) and Suzy (Suzy Mambo), the main characters of 'Bintang Ketjil,' a 1963 children's movie by Wim Umboh and Misbach Jusa Biran that has been restored by Education and Culture Ministry's Film Development Center (Pusbang Film).

Classic Children’s Film 'Bintang Ketjil' Sees Light of Day Again


DECEMBER 19, 2018

Jakarta. The restored version of "Bintang Ketjil," or "Tiny Stars," a 1963 children’s film by Wim Umboh and Misbach Yusa Biran, was screened for the first time at CGV FX Sudirman in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday (18/12).

The film was restored by the Education and Culture Ministry’s Film Development Center (Pusbang Film), which also organized the public screening.

Bintang Ketjil is the third film restored by Pusbang after Asrul Sani's "Pagar Kawat Berduri" last year and Usmar Ismail's "Darah dan Doa" in 2013.

The film tells the adventure of two elementary school girls, Maria (Maria Umboh) and Suzy (Suzy Mambo), and their friend, a shoe shiner boy named Nana (Nana Awaludin).

The girls keep following Nana around in the movie, demanding he take them to the zoo because their parents were always too busy.

Pusbang's film appreciation division head M. Sanggupri said Bintang Ketjil should be seen as a reflection of Jakarta’s social and cultural landscapes in the 1960s.

The film shows some of Jakarta’s famous landmarks, including an eerily shorn of cars Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.

There was also a scene that supposedly took place during the 1963 Games of the New Emerging Forces (Ganefo).

Legendary pop rock "ngak-ngik-ngok" band Koes Bersaudara – Indonesia's The Beatles – also made an appearance in the film, performing the song "Doa Ibu."

Sanggupri said the film could be an inspiration for today’s filmmakers.

"We still don’t produce enough children’s movies. We decided to restore Bintang Ketjil so they get inspired to make more," he said.

Restoration Process

In May this year, Pusbang gathered a band of curators to make a "priority list" of films that should be restored.

After Bintang Ketjil was selected for immediate restoration, a bid was launched to select the best restoration company to work on the film.

Jakarta-based Render Digital Indonesia, previously responsible for Pagar Kawat Berduri's restoration, won the bid and was given 100 days to complete the project.

Sanggupri said Pusbang spent Rp 1.4 billion ($97,000) to restore Bintang Ketjil, less than the Rp 2.2 billion spent on Pagar Kawat Berduri.

This is mainly because Bintang Ketjil's original film reels were in much better quality.

Render Digital Indonesia's director, Taufiq Marhaban, said the Bintang Ketjil celluloid only had scratches from repeated plays, and very few moldy patches.

Two Versions

Pusbang took hold of two celluloid copies of Bintang Ketjil, one owned by Sinematek – the privately run Indonesian Film Archives – and another one belonging to the Indonesian National Archives (ANRI).

Taufiq said they were two different versions of the same film.

The Sinematek version told a darker story that was more PG-13.  Render Digital's project director Rizka Akbar said one of the scenes showed men drinking and singing in a bar.

ANRI’s version, the one that was restored and shown on Tuesday’s screening, was considered more suitable for children.

"We don’t know why these two versions exist. Hopefully one day we can find out," he said.

The ANRI version, unfortunately, has some scenes that seem to be in the wrong order and were left untouched by the restorer, which befuddled some of the audience.

"The other [Sinematek] version actually has a clearer plot structure, but the story doesn’t suit children [of all ages] and there are no title sequences in the beginning and the end. This one has everything though the structure is a bit odd," Taufiq said.

Taufiq said his team noticed this issue from the start, but decided not to make any revision without input from film historians or people who were involved in the making of the original film.

The only modification they made was adding an Indonesian subtitle to the film.

The subs were done by Typist Bergerak Indonesia, a community of volunteer subtitlers.

Maria and Willy Umboh, children of director Wim (Maria also played one of the sisters in the film), attended the screening but said even they didn’t remember the original order of the scenes.

Film critic Yan Widjaya said it was unlikely that Wim Umboh was responsible for the currently non-linear plot structure.

He said Pusbang should consult Bobby Sandy, Wim's assistant director who is still alive and reportedly lives in Jakarta.

How Can We Watch the Film?

Since the restoration project was government-funded, the film will not get a commercial release.

Communities or schools can submit a request to screen the movie to Pusbang, which will then make a copy of the film available to them.

"We had the same system set up for Pagar Kawat Berduri and that film has now been shown in more than 10 cities," Sanggupri said.

He said the Education and Culture Ministry’s headquarters also has a film library and a mini cinema that can fit up to 30 people. Bookings can be made for groups of at least 10 people.

Pusbang has planned a month-long program in March next year to celebrate National Film Day on March 30, which will include a week of classic film screenings and discussions.

Details are not available yet, but the three films that Pusbang has restored will definitely be in the mix.