Q&A with actor and shortlisted ReelOzInd short film producer Ben Mortley

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:

Q&A with award-winning emerging theatremaker and actor Rosie Clynes

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!

Watch Rosie’s winning film HERE.

Still from the short film Hilang. Credit: Rosie Clynes

“I feel like a stranger in my own hometown.”

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.

Behind the scenes photo from the making of ‘Hilang’. Credit: Rosie Clynes

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.

Another still from the film. Credit: Rosie Clynes

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.

Q&A with school student and award-winning ReelOzInd filmmaker Michael Abimanyu Kaeng

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!

Watch Michael’s winning film HERE.

Bagaimana latar belakang Michael?

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.

Q&A with award-winning animator and artist Fierrany Halita

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!

Watch Fierrany’s winning film HERE.

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.

TemuLawak: PPIA Victoria celebrates Indonesian independence with comedy musical ‘Oh! Batavia’

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.

Photo: PPIA Victoria

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.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Balinese dancer, teacher and arts enthusiast Jane Ahlstrand

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?

Jane at the IndOz Festival in Brisbane.

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.

Celebrate 72 years of Indonesian independence with Temu Lawak

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.

Follow PPIA Victoria’s Instagram and Facebook page for more information. You can also purchase tickets at tinyurl.com/2017temulawak or by contacting Ovi (+61431 732 303) or Nesia (+61499 781 230).

Film ‘Kartini’ memikat penonton untuk ikut memperjuangkan keseteraan di Indonesia

Raden Ajeng Kartini adalah nama yang sangat tidak asing bagi masyarakat Indonesia, mengingat bahwa Kartini adalah pahlawan Indonesia yang berhasil membawa emansipasi perempuan akan tradisi dan pendidikan. Tetapi Kartini (2017) adalah film yang dapat dinikmati semua orang, bukan hanya perempuan saja.

Film tersebut memusat kembali perhatian kita kepada sosok Kartini yang betul-betul itu, karena selama sejarah Hari Kartini, dapat disebut bahwa kenangan tentang beliau sudah agak menyimpang dari pesan sejatinya. Fiona Suwana melakukan retrospeksi pada kehidupan sosok tersebut yang ditayangkan dalam film Kartini.

Tahun ini, film biografi Kartini diluncurkan di bulan April yang adalah bulan lahirnya Kartini. Bersyukur, film tersebut juga bisa hadir dan tayang di beberapa negara di Australia, termasuk di Brisbane sehingga masyarakat Indonesia dan Australia yang berdomosili di Brisbane bisa ikut menikmati salah satu film nasional Indonesia yang dinantikan pada tahun ini.

Dalam durasi 122 menit, film Kartini mampu mengundang perpaduan emosi antara rasa sedih, gemes dan bersyukur tanpa rasa bosan bagi para penonton. Serta, para penonton bisa larut ke dalam untaian cerita yang apik mengenai perjuangan Kartini untuk membawa emansipasi perempuan dan kesetaraan hak bagi semua orang di Indonesia.

Film ini dimulai dengan Kartini (Dian Sastrowardoyo) yang tumbuh mengalami langsung bagaimana ibu kandungnya, Ngasirah (Christine Hakim) menjadi orang yang terbuang di dalam keluarga bahkan dianggap pembantu hanya karena tidak memiliki darah ningrat. Sedangkan ayahnya, Raden Sosroningrat (Deddy Sutomo) adalah seorang Bupati Jepara yang walaupun mencintai Kartini dan keluarganya juga tidak mampu berbuat apa-apa menghadapi tradisi Jawa pada era itu. Bahkan, Sosroningrat terpaksa menikahi Moeryam (Djenar Maesa Ayu) yang memiliki keturunan ningrat sehingga akhirnya Sosroningrat bisa diangkat menjadi Bupati.

Selain menampilkan hubungan antara Kartini dengan ibu dan ayahnya, film ini juga menampilkan hubungan Kartini dengan keluarga lainnya termasuk kakak-kakak laki, perempuan dan juga kedua adik perempuan, Roekmini (Acha Septriasa) dan Kardinah (Ayushita Nugraha). Bahkan Kartini juga memiliki hubungan pertemanan dengan teman-teman orang Belanda yang membantu dan menyemangati Kartini untuk menulis dan berhasil dipublikasikan.

Hubungan antar karakter yang menampilkan konflik internal dan eksternal di dalam film Kartini berhasil membangun chemistry penonton dengan karakter Kartini sebagai perempuan Indonesia yang masih terjebak dengan tradisi dan budaya patriarki pada saat itu namun berusaha melawan dan keluar dari budaya itu. Bahkan, film ini juga berhasil menonjolkan karakter Kartini sebagai sosok perempuan Indonesia yang berani, kuat, suka belajar dan pantang menyerang dalam mencapai mimpinya. Karakter yang kuat ini dengan apik dimainkan oleh Dian Sastrowardoyo. Serta, koneksi karakter dan adegan yang erat di dalam film Kartini menjadi keindahan suatu film yang mampu memikat penonton untuk ikut merasakan kegelisahan, kesakitan dan kekuatan setiap karakter.

Beberapa adegan menarik di dalam film Kartini adalah pada masa pingitan sebagai tradisi persiapan menjelang mengemban status Raden Ajeng di kalangan ningrat Jawa, dan bagaimana Kartini menyingkapi soal poligami sebagai produk tradisi di dalam era tersebut. Film Kartini ini dengan rapi berhasil membungkus momen-momen penting dalam hidup Kartini sebagai sosok perempuan muda yang sepanjang hidupnya memperjuangkan kesetaraan hak terutama pendidikan untuk semua perempuan baik itu keturunan ningrat ataupun bukan.

Bersama kedua adiknya, Kartini berhasil mendirikan sekolah untuk rakyat miskin dan juga berhasil menciptakan lapangan kerja untuk rakyat di Jepara dan sekitarnya, salah satunya dengan mengembangkan kerajinan ukiran Jepara yang sampai sekarang menjadi terkenal baik di dalam maupun di luar negeri.

Kartini adalah film yang sarat akan perjuangan emosional dan semangat pemberdayaan di mana sosok Kartini harus melawan tradisi budaya dan bahkan menentang keluarganya sendiri untuk memperjuangkan kesetaraan hak – termasuk hak untuk memperoleh pendidikan dan menentukan pilihan diri sendiri. Beliau membongkar sistem patriarki yang mengikat tradisi dan budaya Indonesia setempat pada masa Kartini hidup, sehingga para perempuan Indonesia pada masa sekarang bisa menikmati dan mendapatkan hak yang setara terutama terkait pendidikan.

Kiranya perjuangan dan semangat Kartini bisa tetap terus dilanjutkan mengingat masih sering terdapat kasus-kasus kesenjangan akan hak dan kesempatan serta kasus kekerasan bagi para perempuan baik di Indonesia ataupun di negara lainnya. Bahkan, perjuangan Kartini juga bisa lebih diaplikasikan bahwa para perempuan juga bisa memiliki peran yang sama dengan siapa pun dalam memajukan bangsa dan negaranya.

Film Kartini ini diproduksi oleh Legacy Pictures dan Screenplay Films dengan sutradara Hanung Bramanyato. Film dibintangi oleh para artis ternama di Indonesia seperti Dian Sastrowardoyo, Acha Septriasa, Ayushita, Christine Hakim, Deddy Sutomo, Djenar Maesa Ayu, Adinia Wirasti, Reza Rahadian, Denny Sumargo, dan Nova Eliza.

Pagelaran Gamelan Gong Kebyar Bali terjamin laris di Australia

Ada salah satu pagelaran Gamelan Gong Kebyar Bali yang sudah mencapai puncak kesenian di Australia, menurut Jane Ahlstrand.

Aula gedung National Gallery of Australia (NGA) bergetar dengan suara nyaring Gamelan Gong Kebyar dan gerakan tari Bali yang gesit dan lincah bulan April yang lalu. Pagelaran seni budaya ini merupakan buah hasil kerjasama Sekaa Gong Sekar Langit dari KBRI, Canberra dan Kita Art Community, Bali.

Tari Pendet oleh Kadek Elena Kusuma Dewi, Jane Ahlstrand dan Ni Komang Tri Paramityaningrum. Foto: Jane Ahlstrand

Pertunjukan tersebut ramai dihadiri anggota masyarakat sampai setiap pertunjukan musik dan tarian langsung disambut tepuk tangan yang memenuhi ruangan James O’Fairfax Theatre di NGA. Anggota grup gamelan Sekar Langit ini hingga penari Bali diwakili oleh warga Indonesia maupun Australia. Dengan tekun mereka turut bersama untuk menampilkan contoh seni budaya Indonesia terbaik di NGA, yang merupakan puncak seni pertunjukan di Australia. Mereka membawakan tiga tarian tradisional yaitu tari Pendet, Topeng Keras dan Joged Bumbung dan tiga jenis tabuh yaitu Bapang Selisir, Godeg Miring dan Gilak.

Selama lima bulan terakhir, para penabuh dari Sekaa Gong Sekar Langit telah bergabung secara rutin di lokasi KBRI, Canberra, untuk latihan intensif di bawah asuhan I Gede Eka Riadi, seniman muda asal Desa Kapal, Bali, yang sekarang menjadi duta budaya di Australia. Didirikan pada tahun 2015 dengan tujuan untuk menghidupkan seni budaya Bali di luar Indonesia, Sekaa Gong Sekar Langit sudah menjadi cukup terkenal di Canberra sebagai wadah musik tradisional Indonesia yang bermutu.

Anggota Sekaa Gong Sekar Langit menikmati kebersaaman saat istirahat. Foto: Jane Ahlstrand

“Awalnya, saya menemukan beberapa alat musik gamelan yang disimpan di salah satu gudang di KBRI,” katanya. Sedikit demi sedikit Gede perbaiki gamelan ini supaya akhirnya dia siap untuk mengundang anggota masyarakat dan pegawai KBRI untuk membentuk grup gamelan resmi. “Yang datang untuk belajar merupakan warga Indonesia yang bekerja sebagai staff di KBRI atau yang sudah menetap di Australia dan ingin menikmati dan melestarikan seni budaya Indonesia di sini. Ada juga beberapa anggota asli Australia yang telah menikah dengan warga Indonesia. Mereka bisa dibilang pecinta budaya Indonesia,” imbuh pria yang akrab disapa “Dedu.”

Dua minggu menjelang Hari-H, Sekar Langit kemudian bergabung dengan beberapa seniman muda berbakat dari Kita Art Community asal Celuk, Bali, yang diundang KBRI khusus untuk memenuhi posisi dalam orkestra dan juga untuk membawakan beberapa tarian tradisional. Dipimpin oleh I Ketut Widi Putra, Kita Art Community telah didirikan pada tahun 2006 dengan cita-cita mulia untuk memfasilitasi kesempatan untuk seniman muda mengembangkan karier di dunia hiburan dan pariwisata di Bali, dan juga untuk melakukan pertukaran budaya. I Gede Eka Riadi merupakan salah satu seniman yang memulai kariernya dengan Kita Art Community.

Tari Joged Bumbung dengan Jane Ahlstrand dan I Komang Tri Paramityaningrum. Foto: Jane Ahlstrand

Kumpulan seniman tersebut termasuk dua penari putri bernama Kadek Elena Kusuma Dewi dan Ni Komang Tri Paramityaningrum, satu penari putra bernama I Dewa Dwi Putrayana dan satu penabuh bernama Ida Bagus Putu Purwa. Akhirnya pasukan penari dilengkapi oleh Jane Ahlstrand, seorang penari Bali asal Brisbane, Australia yang sudah mendalami tari Bali selama enam tahun. Semua mengaku gembira dan semangat tinggi untuk berpartisipasi pada saat mereka menerima tawaran untuk pentas seni budaya Bali di Australia, terutama Ida Bagus Putu Purwa, yang sudah menjadi teman baik Gede Eka Riadi semenjak mereka kuliah bersama di ISI Denpasar pada tahun 2002. “Ya, saya tidak menyangka kalau saya bisa ikut ke luar negeri, tapi ternyata, memang jalan Tuhan mungkin, saya bisa di sini juga dengan Dedu [Gede],” ujarnya. Untuk Ningrum, Elena dan Dewa, mereka semua mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Ketut Widi Putra dan Gede yang telah membantu mereka menemukan peluang berharga seperti ini.

Foto bersama pada penutupan sesi pertama di NGA. Foto: Jane Ahlstrand

Setelah menghabiskan tenaga dan waktu selama lima bulan dalam proses persiapan, akhirnya semua berjalan dengan lancar di lokasi NGA. Dalam acara pertunjukan yang digelar pada dua sesi pada hari Minggu itu, semua penabuh dan penari mengaku heran atas kelancaran program dan keberhasilan dalam bekerjasama. Suara merdu dari gamelan dan kelincahan tari Bali mengundang kegairahan dari penonton sampai beberapa para pemain bahkan menduga ada campur tangan ilahi yang menentukan keberhasilan pertunjukan mereka.

Originally published on the JembARTan blog as “Pagelaran Gamelan Gong Kebyar Bali Capai Puncak Kesenian di Australia.”

Q&A with “Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau” author David Reeve (Part 2)

David Reeve’s new book, Angkot dan Bus Minangkabau: Budaya Pop & Nilai-Nilai Budaya Pop, translated by Australia-based linguist and lecturer Iskandar P. Nugraha, reveals the colour and complexity of this aspect of Minangkabau pop culture in vibrant and entertaining fashion. We talked with both to find out more about their new work. You can read the first half of the interview here.

What do you hope to achieve with the book’s publication?

David: I am just delighted to make a record and provide some analysis of this very lively, creative and fun cultural phenomenon. I’m concerned that it is in danger of disappearing. For example the wonderfully decorated Padang city buses have almost all gone now that the Trans Padang bus service has been introduced … from a very lively popular art form they are now almost extinct. The number of angkot are also declining, down to about 2000 now from some 2200 a few years ago. Cheap credit for motorcycles has taken away some of the clientele. And online alternatives like Gojek and Grab haven’t started yet in Padang, but are most likely to come.

And further still, although outsiders are very impressed by the angkot of Padang, the angkot are not well-regarded by Padang authorities, seen as transgressive and rather wild. Current moves to ‘clean up’ Padang may affect the angkot too. Whereas in Manila, the very colorful and distinctive jeepneys are seen as an asset for city tourism. So as well as drawing attention to this form of popular culture in West Sumatra, I hope to stimulate interest in such from of decoration across the archipelago, and just possibly to help the angkot to be more appreciated in their home city (if that is not aiming a bit too high).

Iskandar: Given the current situation of angkot and buses of Minangkabau, I am totally with David that we should appreciate this West Sumatra icon of popular culture as such. This is the first publication that I know of which focuses on discussing the angkot as a cultural phenomenon and I hope it paves the way for further research in this area. Furthermore, the bilingual layout of the book and word lists for Minang, Indonesian and English should make it an invaluable teaching resource and accessible to a wide audience.

What has the response from readers been like so far?

Iskandar: We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from readers and publication reviews such as Jawa Pos and Republika but my proudest moment as a translator came when hearing from a local Minang while in West Sumatra. The young man from Bukittinggi said that he enjoyed the Indonesian translations very much and found it very accurate. He said, ‘The one who did the translations must have a very good understanding of Minangkabau culture.’

Tell us about the book tour in Indonesia – what was the response from bedah buku attendees?

Our original book tour schedule was to begin at Bandung Book fair with our publisher showcasing two new books: David’s angkot book and Peter Carey’s history of corruption in Indonesia book. There was obviously some political backlash surrounding Peter’s book and the venue cancelled our event. So while the publisher set about rescheduling our tour, David still managed to attend our book fair stand for a meet and greet with the fans.

After a 12 day wait, we finally got on the road. Our tour covered Java, Sumatra and Bali taking place at universities, cafés, libraries and bookshops (Kedai Tjikini Jakarta, Togamas Affandi bookshop Yogyakarta and C20 library Surabaya). Universities we visited included State University of Padang, Airlangga University of Surabaya, Brawijaya University of Malang, Wisnuwardhana University of Malang and Ngurah Rai University in Denpasar.

Among public figures appearing on our discussion panels were Indonesian LGBT campaigner and linguist expert Dr Dede Oetomo, well-known writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma, West Sumatran historian Zul Asri, Maya Ardiani and university academic Ary Budhi and Dr Kustyarini. The tour events were varied in format such as general lectures, book discussions and presentations. Kompas and Surya Malang published enthusiastic articles about the tour in Jakarta and Malang. David was also interviewed by local television in Jakarta.

Attendees at a book discussion in Padang. Photo: Iskandar P. Nugraha

In the towns in Indonesia we visited for the book tour, the responses were amazing. The events were always full, mostly by university students, academics and journalists. In some places like Jakarta, the event attracted people from varied backgrounds and ages, such as students of urban transport, artists, writers and so on. The questions were also varied. As online transport was becoming a hot issue during the book tour, some of of the audience were throwing questions around that issue too.

It has been planned that the second book tour for other Indonesian cities will held in the coming month of August 2017.

What’s next for you both?

There are a number of projects for us to go after this. Most likely we’ll get straight back to the long awaited biography of famous and respected Indonesian Chinese historian Ong Hok Ham. We have been working on this for sometime now. After that perhaps some more work on the Indonesian diaspora in far off-countries like South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and New Caledonia, formed centuries ago by particular aspects of the colonial situation.