Join AIYA QLD! The Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) - Queensland... Chapter is looking for new team members to join the committee. Check out the open job descriptions and find out how you can apply here. Yuk! buff.ly/2v78MVXpic.twitter.com/LQOaTRfYLa
Canberra, 23 May – Come to AIYA ACT’s annual Networking Night! Held in the Indonesian Embassy, mingle between students and professionals, create networks, and be inspired by the benefits of studying Indonesian! buff.ly/2IEYXnIpic.twitter.com/eyPCbKTyv8
Seorang filmmaker Indonesia, Joko Anwar, kembali menggemparkan perfilman Indonesia dengan film Pengabdi Setan yang rilis di tahun 2017.
Film yang merupakan remake dari Satan’s Slaves di tahun 1982 yang bercerita tentang sebuah keluarga yang mulai diganggu dengan hantu ibunya dan kejadian-kejadian aneh lain di rumah mereka.
Secara visual, film yang sengaja disetting di tahun 1981 ini berhasil membawa penonton melihat kehidupan di era tahun 80-an dimulai dari bentuk rumah gaya Eropa dengan suara berderit, pakaian sederhana yang digunakan bahkan sampai tipe kuburan yang terletak tepat di depan rumah keluarga Mawarni (Ayu Laksmi).
Suasana hutan menyeramkan yang berhasil diciptakan dengan musik Kelam malam yang diputar terus-menerus di dalam film telah membuat penonton Indonesia Film Festival di ACMI 26 April 2018 lalu merasakan kehadiran sang Ibu di setiap scene filmnya. Tak heran jika film hasil kolaborasi antara Rapi Films dan CJ Entertainment dari Korea Selatan ini mampu menjadi salah satu film yang paling banyak ditonton bukan hanya di Indonesia melainkan Malaysia, Australia bahkan sampai ke Amerika.
Dalam film Pengabdi Setan 2017 ini, Joko Anwar tampaknya ingin lebih bercerita tentang awal mula banyak setan dan kejadian aneh lain yang menghampiri keluarga ini. Hasilnya, film ini terasa lebih emosional dan mencekam diiringi dengan canda tawa yang dilemparkan antar anggota keluarga dalam percakapannya di film ini.
Sepeninggal Mawarni, sang suami (Bront Palarae) dan keempat anaknya Rini (Tara Basro), Tony (Endy Arfian), Bondi (Nasar Annuz) dan Ian (Muhammad Adhiyat) harus hidup dengan masalah keuangan hingga Rini harus berhenti kuliah, Tony menjual motornya dan Bondi tidak bisa membeli seragam sekolah baru. Akhirnya pun, sang Ayah harus pergi ke kota, meninggalkan anak-anaknya sendirian dan dimulailah cerita aneh dan tragis terjadi.
Plot cerita mulai berkembang ketika Rini bertemu dengan Hendra (Dimas Aditya) yang melihat sosok wanita di rumah Rini dan Tony yang didatangi oleh sang Ibu sedikit demi sedikit mulai melihat kenyataan bahwa sang Ibu mengganggu mereka. Setelah sekian lama diganggu, mereka akhirnya mengetahui bahwa sang Ibu ingin mengambil Ian dari keluarga mereka. Rini dan dibantu oleh Budiman (Egi Fedly) berusaha mengungkap jawaban atas kejadian aneh yang menimpa keluarganya.
Setelah dua kali menghadiri Indonesia Film Festival (IFF), film Pengabdi Setan merupakan salah satu film yang dinanti-nantikan oleh penonton karena merupakan film yang mencapai 4,2 juta penonton di Indonesia di penghujung tahun 2017 lalu.
Walaupun menyisakan beberapa pertanyaan, film yang berhasil menyabet beberapa gelar piala citra dan awards lain dari luar negeri mampu membuat penonton di ACMI berteriak ketakutan. Kualitas suara dan acting memukau para pemainnya, membuat saya mengakui bahwa film ini layak mendapat gelar film terbaik.
Selain sisi mistis yang disajikan, nilai kekeluargaan yang dijunjung tinggi Indonesia juga sangat tampak pada film Pengabdi Setan.
The 13th Indonesian Film Festival (IFF) is on this weekend in Melbourne.
As the most prominent celebration of Indonesian cinema in Australia, IFF is screening a selection of eclectic films, including Ziarah: Tales of the Otherwords (2017). Full information about all six films – plus how to book tickets – is available on the IFF Australia website.
Ziarah is preoccupied with notions of death, history, legacy and stories, and not unduly so. From the beginning, the film is dominated by imagery of cemeteries and dead bodies, talk of old age, and recounts of past events.
Characters are always telling stories of the land and the people on it, giving their versions of decades-old events and gradually building an impression of a broader historical truth that in this case becomes very personal.
Set in rural Java, the film is subdued and introspective, with a slow place, meditative soundscape and numerous long takes. Combined with unobtrusive music and a generally static camera setup, this makes for a film that often feels more like a documentary than a work of fiction. This could have even been a deliberate choice to enhance verisimilitude given the film’s underlying themes.
At one point, a passing extra glances deliberately into the camera, which aside from being a highly amusing error only strengthens the documentary-style tone the film evokes – it’s as if we are onlookers to a very real series of events.
Mbah Sri (Ponco Sutiyem) sets out on an impressive solo journey for one of her age, to find the grave of her husband who was lost after the war. The character’s visible age and fragility – she’s 92 years old – reinforce the notion of a far-off history pushing through into the present.
When asking where their graves are, don’t look for the gravestones. Look at the earth that is freed by their blood.
Often shot with sparse dialogue, Mbah Sri is accompanied by a kind of unspoken melancholy along her journey, upping the emotional stakes and also helping the audience relish in her youthful zeal to find answers to age-old questions so late in life.
Mbah Sri’s journey is paralleled by her grandson’s (Rukman Rosadi) troubled attempts to plan, buy the land for and build a house for himself and his fiancé. The two storylines interweave in a way that further emphasises the struggles of coming to terms with the past by showing the family’s effort to move on and look to the future.
Short filmmaker B.W. Purba Negara’s first foray into feature-length directing is contemplative and deliberate, and lets the truth at the heart of the story come to the fore without any extraneous directorial touches.
The film also features some pleasing Indonesian countryside to accompany the appropriately rural, low-key tone. The English subtitles, too, will be a blessing for those with little knowledge of mumbled Javanese.
A review from the Jakarta Post described the film as a metaphor for Indonesia’s ahistorical society, but it works on several levels: as a quiet depiction of life in the villages, a personal quest for solace and self-fulfilment, or a treatise on the enduring legacy of conflict and loss.
Don’t forget to select a film (or three) to watch this weekend at IFF in Melbourne. Plus, coming soon on the AIYA Blog: reviews for Pengabdi Setan and Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts.
A few months ago, Sandy Solihin, a freelance illustrator and artist, was announced as the winner of the ModCon 2017 competition with his entry Crocoppuccino Party, which won by more than 6,500 votes via the Australian Embassy’s Instagram.
Crocoppuccino Party is a playful piece which combines Australia’s unique wildlife with its coffee culture. Sandy shares his insights into the creative process and motivation for creating the piece below.
Tell us about your background as an artist. Why do you create?
Ever since I was a little kid, I was always mesmerized by children books, especially picture books. I couldn’t sit still until my parents bought me one. I spent days reading those books and got carried away in the world of imagination. Those books ignited my creative side which poured out through pencil and paper. It was amazing. Since then, I’ve decided to become an illustrator and enrolled in art school. Unfortunately, in my hometown Bandung, there was no illustration major. I decided to major in graphic design instead. Luckily, my training as a graphic designer has honed my skills as an illustrator as well, so I can continue making beautiful artworks that resonate with audiences on an emotional level. This is my main purpose in creating artwork: to put smiles on people’s faces.
Where are you from, and how does this place influence your art?
I was born, raised and live in Bandung. Growing up in tropical country with a rich biodiversity enriched my knowledge and artistic references from nature. This sprouted my interest in the animal world and I decided to learn more about their behaviour and their respective physiology. Fortunately, this brought me to work for National Geographic Indonesia as a scientific illustrator and opened up possibilities to explore this country even further.
What were the main influences for Crocoppuccino Party?
As an illustrator who has an interest in the animal world, Australia’s biodiversity has never failed to amaze me. More than 80% of Australian plants and animal are unique to Australia and are found nowhere else.
Australia’s passion for coffee has reached Indonesia as well. Both well-crafted coffee which offers a new level of coffee experience and Aussie-influenced coffee houses have spread across my hometown and into Indonesia’s big cities. As a coffee lover this promises me excellent cappucinno every time I need a caffeine fix.
Last but not least, the most memorable experience I had when visiting Australia was its lively and upbeat but laid-back environment. Aussie sure know how to have fun. Each of these three Aussie things remains close to my heart, and inspired me with this artwork.
What do you hope to convey to viewers?
I think the most pleasing thing would be if my artwork inspires other people, from children to adults, to make them love their own biodiversity and culture, and help make them create more art with a positive impact on the world.
How do you think creative exchanges such as ModCon can enhance the bilateral relationship?
I think the relationship between our countries is magnificent. Creative and artistic exchange and collaboration are a perfect approach to further strengthen this relationship and bridge whatever tensions that might exist.
Any future goals?
I want to immerse myself in the many cultures of the world, exploring their value, unique artistic approach and most importantly the people, in a hope to further expand my knowledge and references as an artist. This would train me to make a meaningful art that reach a broader audience. In the future I want to expand into animation as well. I wish I can contribute in the animation industry as a concept artist.
The ReelOzInd short film festival brings together Australian and Indonesian filmmakers in the hope of highlighting our friendship and common bilateral struggles. This week we hear from producer Ben Mortley, one of the people behind Mukhtar’s Story, a short film originally shot as part of the feature-length documentary Aceh: beyond the tsunami, which has upcoming screenings you can find out about at the end of this post.
Aceh: beyond the tsunami explores the extraordinary stories of survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in the province of Aceh, Indonesia, where approximately 170,000 lives were lost. Watch the short film HERE.
How did Mukhtar’s Story come about?
Mukhtar’s Story was just one of about 25 interviews we recorded for our feature length documentary called Aceh: beyond the tsunami. His story did not ultimately make it into the final cut of the film, but it was such an incredibly evocative and powerful story that we cut it into its own short documentary.
We were over in Aceh filming during the 10th anniversary commemorations of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The idea came from the director, Tim Barretto, who was interested to see how the survivors had rebuilt their lives in Aceh. Aceh had been the area that was worst affected by tsunami with close to 170,000 lives lost, and yet most media coverage (especially in the West) had been about areas that hosted lots of Western tourism. Local Acehnese stories had remained largely unheard.
What is your background in film and acting?
My background began in acting. I performed in my first film when I was 13. Later I went to drama school at NIDA and began to work in the industry in theatre, film and television.
About five years ago I decided to act on the urge I had to be more involved behind the camera, so I did a post-grad diploma in Film and Television. Not long after that I met Tim, and we made a short film while travelling together through Indonesia (it is a country we both love). Then a few years ago Tim and the [ReelOzInd] film’s other producer, Melanie Filler, approached me with the idea that ended up becoming Aceh: beyond the tsunami and Mukhtar’s Story.
Why did you decide to submit to ReelOzInd, and what was the filmmaking process like?
It was really just a process of serendipity. After we cut together Mukhtar’s Story, Tim came across the ReelOzInd! Short Film Festival, which seemed to have the same ethos we did. It wanted to help foster a greater understanding and healthier relationship between the two neighbouring countries, and on top of that the theme of this year’s festival was ‘water’. It seemed a perfect match.
The filmmaking process was hard work, as it always is, and this was amplified by the language barrier. It increased the workload dramatically in post-production, especially with having to get translations and transcripts of every single interview. Even through our translator on location, when we were receiving delayed and abbreviated translations of the interviews, we knew the stories were incredibly powerful, and sometimes it was hard not to be emotionally affected.
In your eyes, how does the production of a documentary differ from a work of fiction?
The biggest difference that comes to mind immediately is the sense of responsibility one feels in a documentary. There is a responsibility to the stories that our participants shared with us. And it is very difficult thing to wrangle with at times. After filming nearly 50 hours of interviews we have had to whittle it all down to a story of 71 minutes. And it has to be crafted in such a way as to keep an audience’s attention. There is so much that is left out, and yet you still want to represent people in a fair and honest way. It makes me painfully aware of how easily people can be misrepresented in the media.
What would you say is the foremost piece of advice you could give to emerging filmmakers and actors?
Know what you want to say with your work and why you want to say it. Then get as much experience as you can on as many projects as possible. Learn how other people work, and steal from the best.
Any future plans?
I hope I continue to get to travel and work – both in front of and behind the camera. Travelling is one of my favourite aspects of this business, both in Australia and abroad. I love meeting new people, in new cultures, and celebrating what is different, and finding the commonalities that make us the same.
Read more interviews with ReelOzInd filmmakers here and here. Mukhtar’s Story also has upcoming screenings in Yogyakarta and Banda Aceh:
The ReelOzInd short film festival brings together Australian and Indonesian filmmakers in the hope of highlighting our friendship and common bilateral struggles. This week we hear from actor, screenwriter and theatremaker Rosie Clynes, whose film Hilang won Best Fiction for 2017!
Can you tell us about the film and how it came about?
The film is a short film called Hilang, or Lost – it’s got two names – and it’s a ten-minute film that I wrote and co-directed with Jonathan Soerjoko, who is a friend of mine.
We’re both Indonesian-Australians (I’m from Melbourne), and so it’s essentially about what it means to feel displaced in your own hometown. I think we came to the subject matter by saying, “Let’s do the film about what this year has been like for us” – because we both moved to Indonesia to, essentially, learn Indonesian.
The film is about two women who meet on a beach and exchange stories about their families and their lives. They talk about the family members they miss, and so on. It turns out that one of the women is the aunt of the other woman, but from another time – so it’s a little mystical and fantastical.
In terms of the message, we specifically made the film for ReelOzInd, so basically wanted to draw on the idea of water as a separator of families, and how more and more these days people are separated from their families by water, by the ocean. It’s all about longing.
What is your background in filmmaking?
I came from my usual headspace of a theatremaker, where I would make my own material and perform in it. But this turns out to be rather hard to film… nevertheless, I was acting in it and I also screenwrote.
I previously graduated from the VCA in theatre practice, which is essentially about acting but also writing for theatre.
Were you influenced by anyone in particular?
Joe was inspired by the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. We watched a beautiful film of his called Dreams, about a young Japanese boy who meets the spirits of a destroyed peach orchard.
And for me it’s probably David Lynch – just how surreal it is. He works with surrealism really well.
Who else was part of the production team?
It was me and Joe steering the ship, but we also had a lot of really talented Indonesian friends. We had the help of a local sound engineer and cameraman from Yogyakarta; we were friends with him so he was kind enough to help us. There was also a local photographer. So, lots of different friends from Yogya.
Were there any troubles filming on location?
We shot on a beach about two hours away from Yogya. We tried to use the live recordings from the original shoot, but the audio was hazy because of the wind – so we decided we’d have to dub it. I was hoping it wouldn’t be noticeable, but because we were running so short on time… We ended up recreating all the sounds in a studio.
The total process was about a month, so we kind of whacked it together pretty quickly because we knew we had a deadline coming up – at one point we suddenly realised, we have to put this together.
Overall, how would you sum up your ReelOzInd experience?
It’s been cool! It’s just been really nice to delve further into the film community in Indonesia, and then to see the films from Australia being shown and getting noticed in Indonesia. We managed to meet quite a lot of cool filmmakers, new film friends – people who are interested in that sort of stuff.
Any future aspirations?
I’ve been writing a lot of stuff recently, which has made me realise how much I like performing. I think in the future I’d like to stick more with acting for film, and acting for theatre as well. I also would like to be based in Indonesia for now.
Ultimately, I guess the dream would be [making] indie films.
Congratulations to Rosie, and you can read an article she wrote for the Australia-Indonesia Centre here.
The ReelOzInd short film festival is on for another year, bringing together Australian and Indonesian filmmakers in the hope of highlighting our common bilateral struggles and friendship. This week we hear from Indonesian school student Michael Abimanyu Kaeng, whose film Water for Grandpa Jan won Best Youth Film for 2017!
Nama lengkap saya Michael Abimanyu Kaeng. Saya bersekolah di Penabur Secondary Kelapa Gading, yang mengajarkan saya beragam pelajaran penting yang menginspirasi saya. Saya dan keluarga sangat suka membuat film untuk menghibur teman-teman dan keluarga yang mengalami kejadian di film tersebut, seperti contohnya di film saya (saya ingin menghibur teman-teman yang kebanjiran).
Saya mulai membuat film waktu saya di kelas 4 SD, waktu pertama kali saya dihadiahi handphone dari ayah saya. Saya sangat entusias saat membuat film dan akhirnya terjun ke dunia short filmmaking.
Tolong ceritakan tentang alur cerita film Water for Grandpa Jan. Ide untuk film tersebut berasal dari mana?
Saya tinggal di Jakarta Pusat, di Bendungan Hilir, pusat keramaian kota. Saya benar-benar ingin menggabungkan tema air, yang disiapkan oleh ReelOzInd Film Festival 2017, dengan tema Jakarta ini. Seperti yang kita ketahui, Jakarta dipenuhi dengan masalah-masalah yang terjadi tiap harinya: kemacatan total di seluruh Jakarta, bebanjiran warga yang terjadi hampir setiap tahun di Indonesia, kekurangan air, kemiskinan warga, dan hal-hal lainnya. Setelah beberapa hari brainstorming bersama-sama dengan keluarga saya, akhirnya saya mendapatkan ide bagus. Saya memakai dua problem khas Jakarta ini: banjir, dan kekurangan air di beberapa area kecil di Jakarta.
Akhirnya saya kepikiran dan membuat film, Water For Grandpa Jan ini, yang ternyata memenangi kategori ‘Youth’ di ReelOzInd Film Festival 2017, yang diadakan bulan-bulan lalu.
Mengapa Michael membuat film untuk kompetisi ReelOzInd? Bagaimana tahap-tahap penulisan naskah, produksi dan paska-produksi?
Sebenarnya, saya tidak terlalu berharap. Saya membuat film itu karena ingin saja untuk mencoba ikut dalam ajang pembuatan film ini. Dalam produksi, saya tidak menggunakan alat-alat yang begitu canggih. Bahkan 50% footage dari film saya diambil dengan menggunakan handphone. Lainnya saya menggunakan Kamera XA-3 untuk mengambil scenes sinematiknya.
Ayah saya membantu dalam proses produksi film ini. Saya menggunakan ‘iMovie’ yang saya pinjam dari ayah saya, untuk mengedit film ini hingga menjadi film yang entertaining dan lucu.
Siapa saja tokoh sutradara atau aktor yang Michael sukai/kagumi? Mengapa?
Saya suka Mira Lesmana dan Riri Riza dari Indonesia, karena saya sangat terinspirasi oleh cerita Laskar Pelangi yang menurut saya sangat hebat.
Saya ingin bisa membuat film sekeren itu di masa-masa mendatang.
Apakah Michael mempunyai cita-cita menjadi sutradara atau produser profesional?
Ya. Itu salah satu probabilitas pekerjaan yang kira-kira saya mau.
Selamat, Michael! Nontonlah film Michael serta film-film ReelOzInd lainnya di sini.
The ReelOzInd short film festival is on for another year, bringing together Australian and Indonesian filmmakers in the hope of highlighting our common bilateral struggles and friendship. This week we hear from Indonesia-based animator Fierrany Halita, whose film Acquiescence won Best Animation and Co-Best Film for 2017!
What is Aquiescence about, and where did the idea come from?
Aquiescence is a short animation that tells the story of Fig, a magical banyan tree who survives a wretched incident that causes her to lose her friends and surroundings. She tries to adapt to her new environment, but the changes never stop; it’s a never-ending cycle. Fig becomes the witness of all the changes that happen, every hello and goodbye.
In this animation, I choose to tell the story from the perspective of a tree because trees have been given deep and sacred meaning throughout the ages. Humans have often seen them as powerful symbols of growth, death and rebirth. Trees also have a longer lifespan than humans, some living for thousands of years, and because of that, trees are often considered a symbol of eternal, immortality and fertility.
So how does it feel to be a tree? To be something immortal, seeing every change without being able to do anything? If we think closely, as an individual human, we can’t really do anything to change the entire world. We see how modern technologies are growing fast, and although we might want to prevent them from growing even further, we might never defeat technology, ever – all we can do is adapt.
What was the animation process like?
For the 2D animation technique, I decided not to used the traditional hand-drawn animation, which takes a long time to finish perfectly. As this was an individual project with a limited timeframe, I picked an easier and more unusual way of working, using a program called After Effect because I LOVE anti-mainstream stuff. Basically, it works in the same way that motion graphics work. I was inspired by certain artists, animated films and games that use the same technique, such as the detective game Jenny Leclue, the Disney Junior television series Jake and The Neverland Pirates, and some of Daniel Gies’ works.
What is your background in animation?
I was a student of animation at Binus University in Alam Sutera, Jakarta. This short animation was my final individual project for graduation. At university, I learned about the entire animation process, from pre-production to production and post-production, but mostly in 3D – so we used 3D software such as Maya and 3Ds Max. But as I chose to make a 2D animation for my graduation project (because I LOVE 2D animation!), I needed to learn by myself by watching several tutorials, and also did some extra training independently outside my major.
I had an internship experience as a 3D animator at Infinite Studios, working on Disney Junior Octonauts, Sonic Boom, and Bob The Builder projects. But I currently work as a storyboard artist and visual development artist at BASE studio in Bali.
Have you found success at other short film festivals?
Yes, indeed. At the beginning, I never imagined that I would be able to find success at film festivals, including both local and international competitions. I have now won at seven festivals (local and international) so far, and have been officially selected for screenings and nominations at 20 other festivals.
What have been some of your major animation influences?
My biggest influence in animation is Disney, of course! I like the styles, the colorful styles, the fantasy themes and its extraordinary imagination.
What is the most important thing for emerging animators to remember?
One of my favorite quotes from the Frozen Artbook in on page 15: “A strong story will carry a weak animation, but the most polished animation can’t save a weak story.” Story is the most important thing on every film, no matter how beautiful the visuals are. By contrast, with a weak story the whole film will turn for the worse.
And one more thing is RESEARCH. Research really helps to develop ideas and the imagination.
Do you have any insights on the Indonesian film industry?
The Indonesian film industry, especially in terms of animation, still has a long way to go in chasing the Hollywood standard. But we’re getting there!
Well done to Fierrany and the other winners! Watch her film here.
Seventy-two years of Indonesian Independence were celebrated on stage before a sold-out audience at Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne in late August. A queue totalling more than 800 was seen outside Melbourne Town Hall. Tickets were sold out ten days before the event, showing just how enthusiastic audiences were to enjoy this year’s TemuLawak, or Teater Muda Langkah Awal Merdeka 2017.
A comedy musical drama entitled Oh! Batavia was presented by the Indonesian Students Association (PPIA) in Victoria and showcased a collaboration between nine Indonesian Student Association branches, with total committee involvement numbering 111 people. TemuLawak 2017 officially began with a welcome speech by Dewi Savitri Wahab from the Consulate-General of Indonesia in Melbourne, followed by a medley of traditional songs from the TemuLawak crew.
Oh! Batavia‘s historical theme informed the audience about the traditional lifestyle of society in the city of Batavia during the war against colonialism in early 1930s. The drama not only touched on the war against the colonisers, but also various Indonesians’ perspectives in the era along with a touch of humour and educative values.
The 100-minute show was accompanied by live music and dance performances, with a total of 40 students being involved in the drama. The three main roles were Terang (played by Hanna Melissa, University of Melbourne), Putra (Bara Adiarto, Monash), and Kuping Kiri/Goda (Axel Prasetio, Monash).
The backstage crew also put in a huge effort to make the event a successful one, and consisted of a planning and production team, a music crew led by composer Vanessa Tunggal, and a dance crew with Arnesia Ranggi as head choreographer. All elements in the drama were produced by students in Victoria, including its choreography, script and musical arrangements.
Kevin Joshua, Project Manager of TemuLawak 2017, said: ‘Oh! Batavia presents the value of diversity and nationalism as well as the spirit of independence, in accordance with the message from Bung Karno, the first President of Indonesia: “Nationalism cannot flower if it does not grow in the garden of internationalism.”’
TemuLawak 2017 was organised with the generous support of its sponsors: YNJ Migration, Bunyip Tour, Central Equity, RACC, Panca Prima Maju Bersama, Da Trans, The Space Dance & Art Centre, Vodafone QV, Buka Lapak, Meetbowl, Kapal Api, Y-Axis, Kaya Yoga, Garden Giggles and Atmosphere Church. Media partners included Buset, OZIP, SBS, Radio Kita, Buletin Indo, Cicak2, Radio PPI Dunia, InfoPensi, AIYA, Meld Magazine, Love & Hate Radio and Kopitoebruk.
Want to find about more about PPIA Victoria? Learn about exciting activities throughout the year on Facebook and Instagram.
Read about another recent Victoria-based event about the Aus-Indo relationship here.
AIYA member Jane Ahlstrand has a prolific record of Indonesia engagement. From performing and teaching Balinese dance to appearing on Indonesian television, she has been an avid advocate of cultural engagement and shows no signs of stopping. (She’s even authored a few articles for us at the Blog!) Jane spoke to AIYA about her fascinating experiences in the Australia-Indonesia space.
What brought you to engage with Indonesia? What do you enjoy most about the country?
Although my primary school offered me my first exposure to Indonesia through weekly Indonesian classes, only through actual direct contact with Indonesia did I come to recognise its true appeal. That moment of realisation happened when I was 16 back in 1998. My family saved up for our first trip overseas to Bali. It was definitely a big deal for us back then.
When we arrived in Bali and breathed in the balmy, tropical night air, I was just blown away by how different and beautiful Bali was. Coming from a tiny country town meant that I had very limited exposure to other cultures so a trip to Bali really opened my eyes. I also realised that the bits and pieces of Indonesian I had learned in primary school were in fact useful and worth cultivating.
Oh, and I had the chance to see Balinese dance for the first time. I was just riveted by the dancers’ wonderful expressions, movements and costumes. At the time, I only saw myself as a foreign tourist but did have a small hope that I would step out of that box one day and truly get to know Bali.
After that, I was motivated to study Indonesian at university. At uni, I made lots of Indonesian friends, most of whom happened to be Chinese Indonesians at the time because they fled the violence of 1998. For me, it was really interesting but also saddening to hear their stories of life in Indonesia as a minority. I also made a trip back to Indonesia in 2001 and travelled across Java by bus, train, taxi, motorbike, becak and bajaj. I felt so alive! I have a clear memory sitting on the back of a motorbike riding through the electric green rice fields outside of Jogja and being overwhelmed by happiness. By then, my Indonesian was much better and I was able to interact freely with the locals.
After graduating, sadly, work took me in a different direction. I ended up living in Korea and studying Korean for a while. I also worked with the Queensland Government developing the International Student Program and my Korean language skills were put to the test there. After a while, Indonesia called my name. Especially Bali. I investigated some options for returning to Indonesia.
Since 2011, my life has been Indonesia-focused.
How did you come to perform Balinese dance? What’s the best part?
In 2011 I enrolled in the Darmasiswa culture and arts scholarship program offered by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. I studied Balinese dance at the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Denpasar, Bali. My Indonesian language skills really helped me in making friends and understanding the dance.
Even though my stiff bule body did not want to cooperate much at first. Since then, I was determined to master this ridiculously difficult art form. Learning it as a foreigner and an adult certainly made it a challenge. Most Balinese learn it from when they are very young and their bodies move naturally into the right position. For me, I had to force it until it also became natural.
The best part is actually the build up to the performance. All the hard work and practice along with the big expectations for the event. The event itself is always a challenge because I have to do the makeup and costuming, usually not only for myself but for my students. I love teaching and sharing the love of dance but it takes many years to master its various aspects of the dance, including the intricacies of the costume and makeup. I feel a lot of pressure to get things done on time. It takes over an hour to do the costume and makeup for one person. Some nights before a big performance, I can’t sleep because I worry about all the things I have to do the next day.
Tell us about your NAILA experience in 2015?
I was so thrilled to win the Wildcard category for NAILA. I think because I picked Balinese dance as my topic, I just had to do a good job. My speech was almost like a performance and I was very passionate about sharing my knowledge of Balinese dance with the audience. Thankfully, other people appreciated it. I memorised the speech and when I delivered it on the night of the event, it was almost like an out of body experience for me. That night, I was too excited to go to sleep afterwards. What a rush! I am so thankful to the team at NAILA for putting together such a fantastic event and giving us the chance to put our language skills to the test.
How about CAUSINDY 2016?
CAUSINDY was great. It was held in Bali so that was a real bonus! I suppose I was selected because of my identity as a budayawan. Many of the other participants came from professional backgrounds and I must admit, I felt a bit odd and lacked self-confidence. Nevertheless, at the conference we were given the task of developing a potential project that would help strengthen the bilateral relationship and that’s when I felt I could offer something useful.
I was placed in a group of others who also recognised the value of cultural engagement. We came up with the idea of a website that showcases engagement between our two nations through the arts while also giving artists a voice and the recognition they deserve. We all agreed that the arts sometimes gets overlooked and undervalued when in fact it is a fantastic resource for building friendship and communicating ideas.
What is JembARTan?
So, JembARTan is the name of the blog that was launched following the conference. My friend John Cheong Holdaway (NAILA winner and CAUSINDY delegate) came up with the beautiful name. He is really clever. He also set up a basic WordPress blog. Then I just started writing. I have quite a few friends who are active in the arts, so it wasn’t too hard to find some interesting subjects for the blog. After a while, I had written quite a few posts and then JembARTan sort of just ended up becoming my pet project. I started writing mainly in Indonesian, and the articles were then published by ABC Australia Plus Indonesia as well as several leading Indonesian news media outlets. I was quite satisfied to know that my Indonesian writing skills were good enough to make it into the local Indonesian media.
Then, the team at CAUSINDY showed their interest in developing JembARTan further. We now have funding from telkomtelstra (a joint Indonesian-Australian telecommunications company) to create a spiffy new website and also engage in more interviews with cool artists. I also have a new member, Freya Gaunt, who is helping me to write new articles and expand JembARTan.
Where do you see the Australia-Indonesia relationship heading in the future?
I’m really depressed about the low level of enrolment in Indonesian language subjects at the high school and tertiary level. It’s honestly shocking and worrying. I really wish that universities would do more to encourage student interest in the program rather than just letting it die off. I know that universities are profit-driven but they also have a broader duty as educational institutions to contribute to Australia’s role in the Asia-Pacific region.
What’s your next move?
I have to finish my PhD! I am actually getting really close to my deadline and things are looking very precarious for me at the moment. It was my dream to become an academic, but I feel that I might be more interested in a more exciting life, particularly in the media. I have done a bit of television work with NET.TV Indonesia, and it really gives me a rush to participate in news production. I am also trying to learn to sing so I can pursue a career as a dangdut singer and tour around Indonesia. Hahaha. Just kidding (?).
A big thanks to Jane for her time and her support of the Australia-Indonesia cultural canvas. Read all of her submissions for the AIYA Blog here.
To celebrate the 72nd Independence Day of Indonesia in August, the Indonesian Students’ Association of Australia in Victoria (PPIA Victoria) has once again organised a comedy musical drama called Temu Lawak (Teater Muda Langkah Awal Kemerdekaan).
The theme of the second production of Temu Lawak will be historical events in the early 1930s, throwing the audience back to the era of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. The drama will not only illustrate the war against the colonisers, but also various Indonesians’ perspectives in that era with a touch of humor and educative values.
Temu Lawak 2017 will be held on Saturday August 19, 2017, at Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne at 2.30pm. The comedy musical drama titled Oh! Batavia will last for 80 minutes and be combined with live music and a student performance. All elements of the show, ranging from the choreography, script, music arrangement and composition are fully directed and created by Indonesian students in Victoria. (Pssst! You can also catch a glimpse of other aspects of Indonesia in this show!)
“We, Indonesian youth, would like to address the message that love and hope can be found even in the darkest of times. The stories around colonial-era Indonesia’s struggle for independence will be delivered in a fun, interesting and educative ways, meaning everyone can enjoy this show”, said Kevin Joshua, the project manager of Temu Lawak 2017.
Reflecting Temu Lawak’s success last year, PPIA Victoria hopes that Temu Lawak 2017 can serve as a means to foster the spirit of Independence Day among the younger generations and to contribute to the future of the nation.