Self-identity is never a sure thing in Edwin’s short films. It is absolutely relative and rewritten perpetually through every social interaction. This is important when one considers that throughout Suharto's Orde Baru, whose political imagination is still felt to this very day, many films tried to internalize the idea of what and who is an 'Indonesian' according to the ruling class’s interests.
National Superheroes Out of Work: Dealing with Indonesia’s Colonial Legacy through the Cinematic Superhero
Joko Anwar's Gundala (2019) marked the start of a cinematic universe in which superheroes from the Indonesian Bumilangit comics are translated to the big screen. Intriguingly, this trend has been reflected playfully yet thoughtfully years before in Wimar Herdanto's Gundah Gundala (2013), an independent production, in which local superheroes struggle to make a living amid the arrival of global superheroes in Indonesia.
The Indonesian film culture of 1970s and 1980s Malaysia is but one example of how cinema can transcend its national-cultural borders by sharing, exchanging and mobilising culture(s).
We need to assess Indonesian cinema further beyond its economic achievements. The measurement needs to be expanded, as films not only serve as commercial commodities, but also as strategic components in cultural interactions. These two functions are inseparable and closely related to each other.
Lab Laba Laba eschew digital technology. They work only with 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film. Their practice, as it remains militantly dedicated to the filmic strip, reveals the difficulties and complexities of the manner and means in which cinematic technology is instrumentalised for political purposes.
What happens when Indonesian Muslim characters are placed in non-Muslim countries and must engage in struggles over their faith? A recent trend in Islamic feature films sees the main protagonist(s) travel overseas to a non-Muslim country. How the characters negotiate the cultural differences reveals clues as to the emerging identity and politics of the Muslim middle class.
Wiji Thukul is not Indonesia’s greatest poet. He is certainly not the only casualty of the New Order government. But he is one of the most important stories in the history of Suharto’s bloody regime. For many, he defines what Reformation era is all about. Through absence and language, Solo, Solitude beautifully captures the essence of Thukul.
We face a black-and-white possibility: either to prohibit the “import” of porn stars in Indonesian non-porn films, or to allow them to come but with no censor at all. Doing both is like carrying water in a leaked bucket. The censorship scissors are too blunt to determine stardom personas.