Film and Society
A number of intriguing phenomena can be observed in Indonesian film development throughout 2017. In terms of several indicators, such as the number of screens and audience, our cinematic landscape has grown. The number of films circulated in 2017, however, has seen a decline, albeit in an insignificant magnitude, when compared to 2016. Furthermore, if we see the decline of film circulation in 2017 in terms of audience segmentation, we could interpret the data positively.
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.
Sudewo, 54, has been a projectionist for 29 years, since the Keong Emas IMAX Theater was still under preparation. Established in 1984, Keong Emas was the largest theater in Southeast Asia in the 1980s with its 840 seats. During those years, Keong Emas was the darling and pride of Jakartans.
The weak position of film adaptations in contemporary discourse can be attributed to several factors, particularly low literacy rates and the corresponding market implications and an emphasis on literature as belles lettres rather than the popular literature from which most films were adapted.
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.