The twins in an energetic dance mimicking chickens. (Photo courtesy of Treewater Production and Fourcolours Films)

Indonesian Cinema Takes Center Stage at Singapore International Film Festival


NOVEMBER 02, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia will be the "country-of-focus" at the 28th Singapore International Film Festival, or SGIFF, from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, with the country's burgeoning independent film scene this time taking center stage.

The full festival line-up was announced on Tuesday (24/10) and the Indonesian contingent includes Mouly Surya’s "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts," the only Southeast Asian film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and Edwin’s new teen romance-thriller and surprise box-office sleeper hit "Posesif."

Three Indonesian films are in competition at the festival: Kamila Andini’s "The Seen and Unseen" in the Asian Feature Film Competition, and Makbul Mubarak’s "The Malediction" and Suryo Wiyogo’s "Joko" in the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition.

Legendary avant-garde filmmaker Garin Nugroho is also set to receive the Honorary Award from SGIFF's Silver Screen Awards.

Indonesian Cinema After the New Order

A special programme called "Focus — Histories of Tomorrow: Indonesian Cinema After the New Order" will screen 15 Indonesian films to mark the post-Suharto era as a turning point when Indonesian films started becoming more diverse and expressive.

One of the films is "The Ballads of Cinema Lovers," a 2017 documentary by Yuda Kurniawan on former journalist Bowo Leksono and a film club he started in Purbalingga, a sleepy town in Central Java.

Bowo also founded the Purbalingga Film Festival, screening independent films in remote villages around Purbalingga and inspiring a new generation of filmmakers.

Hari Suhariyadi’s 2016 movie "The Talisman," also screened as part of Focus, is an interesting take on the problem of religion in Indonesia, shining a light on "alternative" beliefs outside the country's six official religions.

"A Goat" by young avant-garde auteur Tunggul Banjaransari will have its world premiere in Focus. The film's surreal plot involves a water trader getting entangled in a plot against the military and martial artists, both of whom he suspected of stealing his neighbors' goats.

Focus is co-curated by one of the founders of film criticism website Cinema Poetica, Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu.

Exploring Cinema’s Future

The festival this year also features forums to highlight the evolution of cinema due to technological changes in cinematography, production and even the way we consume film.

The festival will also introduce the inaugural Southeast Asian Producer’s Network this year. Eleven regional commissioners and producers, including Singapore’s Fran Borgia, Indonesia’s Mouly Surya and representatives from HBO Asia and Astro Shaw, will meet to chart the future of collaborative filmmaking in the region in a public talk.

"Our movie-going culture has entered a new stage. Filmmakers and producers are producing great content that are played across multiple screens from cinemas to television to online platforms," SGIFF's executive director, Yuni Hadi, said in a statement.

The Future of Cinema Forum will also show scenes from films shot in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technology – including "Manic" and "The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes."

SGIFF's tickets start from $12 per screening session and are now on sale from Sistic.