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.
Indonesia in Cinema
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.
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.
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.
Action movies are closely related to Indonesian cinema history, since the first Indonesian feature film ever, Loeteong Kasaroeng (Enchanted Monkey) produced, was an action-orientated fantasy spectacle. It was followed by many martial arts movies during the late 1920s and 1930s. Every drama had at least one fighting sequence to entertain the audience.
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.