Jakarta. For Aldwin Yusgiantoro, president of the Indonesian Student Association in Washington, D.C., films can serve as a medium to promote the archipelago to the world.
Aldwin, who led a screening of the Indonesian film "Sultan Agung" in the US capital on Sunday, said promoting the archipelago is a duty for the country's students pursuing their studies abroad.
"We, as Indonesian students here, are enthusiastic to promote Indonesia and instill a positive image of our nation to people in America," he said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
He added that the screening also aimed to instill a love for the archipelago among members of the Indonesian diaspora.
"Sultan Agung," which tells the story of the 17th century Mataram king, was directed by renowned filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo and released in Indonesian theaters in August. It has been nominated for seven Citra Awards.
The student association, known as Permias DC, said it chose the film because it extensively showcases Indonesian culture and history.
According to Theo Nugroho, head of protocol and consular services at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, the embedded nationalism in the film can improve Americans' understanding of Indonesia.
"So, the Indonesian diaspora and Americans who watch this film get an understanding of the history of our nation," he said.
Monica S., a 24-year-old graduate student at The George Washington University, echoed Theo's sentiment.
"Not many people know about Indonesia and movies such as this help to paint a broader picture of the country," she told the Jakarta Globe.
Monica added that many young Indonesians are unaware of their country's rich history, that and movies such as "Sultan Agung" help to bridge that gap.
About 100 people attended the screening on Sunday, presented in collaboration with the Indonesian Embassy, the Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival and Asian studies organizations at the university.
The screening included a question-and-answer session with one of the actors, Marthino Lio, who plays the role of the younger Sultan Agung in the film.
"Hopefully, this kind of activity will occur more frequently in the United States and internationally," he said.
Aldwin also told the Jakarta Globe via email that the student association received positive feedback from the audience after the event, and that it plans to partner with the LA Indonesian Film Fest in the future to promote more movies from the archipelago in the United States.
"We are also planning to host several events related to culture, where both Indonesian and American students can connect, share experiences and embrace each other's cultures," he said.
Next year, the student association plans to host its second "Indonesian Update" event, which will focus on the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between Indonesia and the United States.