The cast and crew of "Athirah" after the Citra awarding night in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta on Sunday (6/10). (JG Photo/Lisa Siregar)

Strong Indonesian Woman in Spotlight as 'Athirah' Sweeps Citra Awards


NOVEMBER 07, 2016

Jakarta. The annual Festival Film Indonesia continues to reward movies with strong women in leading roles as "Athirah" took out key categories, including best film, at the Citra Awards in Central Jakarta on Sunday (06/10).

"Athirah" led Sunday's awards with 10 nominations, bagging six Citra awards: best film for producer Mira Lesmana, best director for Riri Riza, best leading actress for Cut Mini, best  adapted screenplay for Riri and Salman Aristo, best costume design for Chitra Subyakto and best art direction for Eros Eflin.

The biopic follows Athirah, mother of current Vice President Jusuf Kalla, as she struggles to be the breadwinner for her family after her husband marries another woman. "Siti," the winner for best film at the Festival last year, also follows the life of a wife who takes charge of the family after her fisherman husband has a crippling accident and is unable to sail and earn money.

The Sunday ceremony was a milestone for duo Mira and Riri in terms of their relationship with the Festival. Both Mira and Riri, who have been making movies together since "Petualangan Sherina" ("Sherina's Adventure") in 2000, said there were times when they questioned the purpose of the Festival and decided not to submit their works.

The best director prize Riri received on Sunday was his first Citra ever, after nearly 20 years in film. In his acceptance speech, Riri said he dedicated this award to his mother and his motherland, Makassar in South Sulawesi, in which the story took place and the movie was filmed.

"'Athirah' is a very personal project for me, because the set took place in my hometown, Makassar, and it's about a mother who did everything she could for her family," he said.

As for Mira, it was her first time attending the Festival in 12 years, when she received the best film prize for biopic "Gie."

"Lately I saw incredible efforts from the organizer [of the Festival] to recognize talents and improve the local film industry, this is something that I want to support," she said.

Apart from women's issues, both said "Athirah" was one of their many projects that consistently bringing the diversity of Indonesian culture to the cinema. Mira and Riri are among outspoken filmmakers in criticizing the Jakarta-centric setting in Indonesian cinema.

"Rudy Habibie " starring Reza Rahadian in the title role, also received ten nominations, but failed to win a Citra. Reza, on the other hand, successfully received his fourth Citra award in the best leading actor category for his role as the bossman in the Indonesian-Malaysian comedy "My Stupid Boss."

The best leading actress category saw Cut Mini as the first time winner. On stage, Cut received the award in happy tears and delivered her acceptance speech in thick Makassar accent that she sported on screen for "Athirah."

The Festival also took a special section to recognize actors who have put Indonesian talents in the international map, such as Joe Taslim in "Star Trek Beyond" and "Fast 6," Yayan Ruhiyan and Iko Uwais in "Star Wars: The Force Awaken" and director Wregas Bhanuteja for his short film "Prenjak" which recently won Semaine de la Critique in Cannes this year. Wregas also received the Citra for best short film.

Film director Garin Nugroho presented the lifetime achievement award for Christine Hakim as the only actor in Indonesia whose three films were screened in the prestigious Cannes film festival; "Tjut Nya' Dien," "Serambi" and "Daun di Atas Bantal." Christine's speech brought some members of the audience to tears as she recalled the first ever Festival Film Indonesia, which was held March 30 t0 April 5 in 1955, when the republic of Indonesia was just 10-years-old.

"I still remember clearly how difficult it was to keep the dignity of Indonesian film when our country was only ten years old. It was really hard to be seen as a good actor," she said.

Despite a few tearful moments, comics Ernest Prakasa and Panji Pragiwaksono appeared on top form as hosts of the ceremony. The duo occasionally threw mild jabs at local trends, including the current highest-grossing Indonesian movie "Warkop DKI Reborn." The movie earned more than 6 million viewers nationwide despite the fact that "it was only 10 percent funny," Ernest said, and "... it didn't even cast Reza Rahadian," Panji added.

Miles Films production house was the real winner in the Sunday ceremony, bagging six Citra awards for "Athirah" and two prizes in best music and best soundtrack for their hit sequel, "Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? 2."