Participants have a chance to showcase their work at the PopCon Asia event this weekend. (The Peak Photo/Sylviana Hamdani)

Jakarta School Kids Blitz Indonesia's Film Industry

AUGUST 04, 2015

Jakarta. "You'll never be anything in life," said Mrs. Reni, a high school teacher, to a student named Chiko. The recalcitrant student hung his shoulders and walked out of the teacher's office.

The boy then grew up to become a highly successful businessman. In a TV interview, Chiko dedicated his success to Mrs. Reni, who had said that he would never amount to anything.

The six-minute movie faded with a scene in which Mrs. Reni was watching Chiko's interview on TV, dumbfounded.

The short movie, titled "Poin" ("Point"), is the work of students of SMAN 70 state high school in Bulungan, South Jakarta.

"It's a criticism against our school’s point system," said Lutfia Triwahyuni, a 10th-grade student of SMAN 70 and director of the movie. "Those who are expelled from school by the point system don't necessarily fail in life."

Under the point system in effect at the school, students are given points for breaking the rules and when they reach a certain number, are expelled.

The high school, together with SMAN 78, vocational school SMKN 6, SMA Kanisius and SMA Gonzaga, was selected to take part in Toto's Filmmaking Class held in mid-June by Blitz Megaplex. Their final works were screened in Blitz studio Jakarta's Pacific Place mall.

Toto's Filmmaking Class is a corporate social responsibility program by the cinema, which is also supported by the South Korean cinema chain CJ CGV and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The filmmaking class is held in a number of other countries in Asia as well, including in South Korea, China and Vietnam. In Indonesia, the program has been going on since 2013.

"We keep improving the program each year," said Dian Sunardi, chief marketing officer of Blitz Megaplex.

In 2013, they held a fimmaking class for 40 students from 40 different schools in Jakarta. In 2014, they held the class for the students of SMKN 57 in Jati Padang, South Jakarta.

In the third year, they invited 100 high schools in Jakarta to take part in the program.

"We then selected 20 of the best responses that we got," said Dian. "We visited the schools and interviewed the headmasters of the schools regarding their interest and commitment to the filmmaking program."

The five schools selected for the program sent groups of eight students to take part. The class was held from June 11 to June 30 at SMAN 78 in Kemanggisan, West Jakarta. During the class, students learned the basics of filmmaking, including scriptwriting, pre-production, shooting, post-production and film promotion.

"I never thought that making a movie can be so complicated and tiring before," said Lutfia from SMAN 70. "It’d looked so glamorous from the outside.”

The filmmaking class, which was held during the fasting month, was also very taxing for some of the participants.

"We worked day and night for our movie," said Syahada Esfairhani, student of SMAN 78 and camerawoman for the movie. "It was very enervating, especially as we were fasting at that time. But we’ve also learned so much during the program."

Their movie, "Rush," was very entertaining. The movie portrays the adventures of a high-schooler named Dika, who lives far away from school, to get up early and arrive on time for the school’s exam.

"Through the movie, we want to show that being tardy will really mess things up," said Syahada.

"Rush" received a long round of applause from the audience during the movie screening.

Another comedy, "Balada Si Kribo" ("Ballad of the Frizzy-Haired"), by students of SMA Gonzaga in Pejaten Barat, South Jakarta, was also a favorite of the audience during the movie screening.

The five-minute movie features a unique rule in the high school, which allows male students with good grades to have long hair. Thus, in that school, long hair for boys is a symbol of intelligence. And yet, Gatot, the main character of the movie, is repeatedly rebuffed by the girl he fancies because of his frizzy long hair. He then does many things, including trimming the hair that he is really proud of, for the girl.

"Through the movie, we want to show that blind obsessions can be very stupid," said Nimas Cemara, student of SMA Gonzaga and scriptwriter of the movie.

SMA Gonzaga was on holiday when the filmmaking program was held.

"We literally spent most of our holiday working for the movie," said Nimas. "But it's totally worth it. Through the program, we could get to know top names in the Indonesian movie industry."

Top movie directors, including Lance Mengong, Robby Ertanto and Sammaria Simanjuntak, were involved in the program and each was assigned to mentor one school group.

"The students were all very talented, but they lacked confidence," said Sammaria, who mentored the group from SMKN 6 in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. "But I could see their confidence level rise during the program."

Students of SMKN 6 featured the issue of disability in their four-minute movie "Cinta Buta" ("Blind Love"). In the movie, Irwan, who is hearing-impaired, fought against speech-impaired Arief, for the love of Bunga, who is blind.

"Through the movie, we want to show that those who are disabled also have the same feelings as we do," said Adam Baihaki, student of SMKN 6.

Different from their peers, students of SMA Kanisius in Menteng, Central Jakarta, featured a rather noir topic in their movie, "Aenigma."

In the movie, a high-schooler named Leah is found dead by hanging in the school's warehouse. When the police examine her body, they find out that Leah had been pregnant. The police then interrogate Leah's friends and boyfriend over her death.

"The movie features a very common problem among Indonesian students these days, which is extramarital sex, as well as its dire consequences, such as teen pregnancy, and possibly, murder," said Edwin Adisoemarta, a student of SMA Kanisius and soundman for the film.

SMA Kanisius won the "best group" award in the third edition of Toto's Filmmaking Class for the story idea and production of their movie.

All of the movies of the third edition of Toto's Filmmaking Class will also be featured in the PopCon Asia 2015, a pop culture festival to be held at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) this weekend (Aug. 7 to Aug. 9).

"It'll be a great exposure for them," said movie director and one of the mentors in the program, Lance. "It's predicted that more than 24,000 people from eleven Asian countries will attend the event."

Blitz Megaplex will also select the films produced during Toto's and submit the best ones to international film festivals.

Next year, Toto's Filmmaking Class will be held in Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta.