October 18, 2022
JAKARTA – The film festival, supported by the Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency, redefines why arthouse and indie features are the new ‘cool’ cinema.
While many film festivals cater to consummate cinephiles only, Jakarta Film Week 2022 was aiming for something different.
During the final day of the film festival, the theater was almost at full capacity, packed not only with the participating filmmakers and cinephiles, but also occasional theatergoers and Jakarta urbanites who were curious about what Jakarta Film Week 2022 was all about.
The all-encompassing cinematic experience was, ultimately, what the key players behind the festival wished to manifest for its second year.
Rina Damayanti, this year’s festival director, said it best: “The strengthening of Jakarta Film Week is also the strengthening of the Jakarta film scene—and Jakarta is also the center of the national film scene.”
Held in CGV Grand Indonesia and Kineforum Taman Ismail Marzuki from Oct. 13 to 16, Jakarta Film Week 2022 presented more than 80 film titles from Indonesia and abroad, with several provocative features receiving special recognition.
With “emerge” as this year’s theme, the festival also introduced local, nascent filmmakers in the industry.
Jakarta Film Week 2022 commenced with the Indonesian feature film Balada Si Roy (The Ballads of Roy). Directed by Fajar Nugros, the teen action-drama was adapted from a running story and novel of the same name written by Indonesian author Gol A Gong.
The film stars Febby Rastanty, Bio One, Sitha Marino and Jourdy Pranata, with Abidzar Al Ghifari as the titular protagonist. The cast was present as they introduced Balada Si Roy to the audience.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post, Fajar said it was a “privilege” for Balada Si Roy to be premiered at Jakarta Film Week 2022. The film is scheduled to be released in Indonesian theaters later this year.
“Jakarta is supposed to have another film festival that is proper and conducive for the sake of the growth of Indonesian cinema, filmmakers and its audience. I feel that we must participate in that spirit,” he underlined. “A film festival makes a city more cultured.”
Coincidentally, the youthful spirit of Jakarta Film Week 2022 was in sync with the story of Balada Si Roy itself, which explores the ups and downs of adolescence despite the changing times.
Fajar continued, “I feel like, through Balada Si Roy, I could ignite the flame of spirit for today’s youth—that they are supposed to be courageous enough to fight against constriction, speak up to the society, express their disillusionment and tear apart oligarchies.”
Balada Si Roy was not the only Indonesian feature film screened at Jakarta Film Week 2022, among the participating, homegrown features were Angga Dwimas Sasongko-directed Mencuri Raden Saleh (Stealing Raden Saleh), Adriyanto Dewo-directed Galang and Kamila Andini-directed Before, Now & Then (Nana). The latter film received the festival’s Global Feature Award.
Some of the participating features—to name a few, Rahabi Mandra-directed documentary feature Langkah Bhayangkara Putri (The Conquest of Carstensz) and Hasmanan-directed 1973 drama Dimana Kau Ibu… (Where Are You, Mother…)—were screened on the Indonesia-based over-the-top video streaming service platform Vidio.
Rina explained that this year’s festival also attempted to reflect on the recent transformation of the cinematic experience—that is, the emergence of streaming platforms such as Vidio as alternative mediums of cinematic storytelling.
She explained: “The film industry took a beating during the pandemic. Then, suddenly, we found ourselves turning into a digital market, what with streaming and the like. Once the pandemic petered out, we discovered how films had taken various shapes now. It began with short films, then we got to know [web] series, and then we got to know what ‘content’ was and much more.
“What was interesting, though, was when it came to having the audience return to the theaters, the genres of the films had gotten [more] intriguing. [For instance] ghost stories became one of the main pulls for theatergoers!”
Fear no films
Jakarta Film Week 2022 also screened feature films from overseas, short films and the launch of the Indonesian web series Doa Mengancam (Dangerous Prayer) starring Kevin Ardilova and Tissa Biani.
The festival awarded the “Series of the Year” title to the Indonesian web series Yang Hilang Dalam Cinta (What’s Missing from Love), a 12-episode romantic fantasy drama starring Dion Wiyoko and Sheila Dara that premiered on streaming service platform Disney+ Hotstar in July this year.
Foreign pictures such as Louis Garrel-directed French drama The Innocent and Floor van der Meulen-directed Dutch dramedy Pink Moon were screened out of competition, with Sorayos Prapapan-directed Thai black comedy Arnold is a Model Student closing the festival.
Indonesian short films Sunat Racing (The Ballad of Circumcision), Pesan(an) Terakhir (Last Order) and Bukan Anak Meriam (Myth of Cannon) competed for the Jakarta Film Fund Award—the last-named was announced as the winner.
Representing the jury panel of Jakarta Film Week 2022, South Korean native Ellen YD Kim teased that, when it came to deciding the best feature of the competition, she preferred to keep an open mind.
“Well, it’s my first time [being a jury member at the Jakarta Film Week] and also, coming to Indonesia, so I didn’t have any preconceptions about the programs and the festival. I was just ready to discover anything,” she told the Post.
Ellen further defined that a “good” film should contain “very good storytelling”, without compromising “how the director builds up the qualification of the film,” she added.
“Not only a matter of storytelling, but also the style and the directing and the acting of the cast, combined together.”
The participating films of Jakarta Film Week 2022—in and out of competition—did not shy away from exploring complex and provocative themes—the kind of cinematic storytelling that Ellen appreciated as well. For instance, the closing picture Arnold is a Model Student tackles the cracks in the Thai education system and how political instability affects the youth.
Ellen advised the audience not to dismiss a film merely out of fear of its themes.
“I think, why not watch a lot of different films? It would help you to think and be more mature with the other person’s perspective. No need to be afraid at all,” she said.
The new ‘cool’
Serving as the festival ambassador, Indonesian actor and singer Jourdy felt compelled to take part in Jakarta Film Week 2022 as film festivals typically showcase “extreme and insane” films that his young peers might find fascinating.
“The films being screened here are no joke. They made it in such a way that the result—the message and the issue being explored—was very cool!” he enthused to the Post.
To boot, Jourdy observed the recent shift in younger audience members’ taste in films.
“Young people nowadays, I find, are more enthusiastic about arthouse films. Perhaps because they have gotten bored with films that are censored or films that play things safe for commercial purposes,” he added.
Jourdy acknowledged how he and his fellow actors have started taking interest in working on anti-mainstream projects as well.
“Why are young actors nowadays more interested in working on arthouse and indie films? Because we get to express ourselves more freely with no monotony. Like, no more being a prince on a white horse all the time,” Jourdy stated with a laugh.