Well, I want to translate my own review of Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly until recently I found this great interviews of Edwin with Tony Rayns (about Blind Pig) and with the beloved Alexis Tioseco (about the shorts). And he is very articulative about his art.
HOW IT FEELS TO BE CHINESE IN INDONESIAfrom an interview with Edwin
Tony Rayns: As an Indonesian of Chinese descent yourself, what do you think is the core issue? How much of the problem comes from social and racial prejudice in Indonesia, and how much from an internalized denial or even self-hatred?
Edwin: Obviously, we’re a minority. Because of everything that happened in the 1960s and 1970s, when the government created a certain image of the Chinese population in order to control them or use them as a scapegoat, many of us feel some kind of paranoia. I think that’s the biggest problem. To call it self-hatred would be too strong. Actually, we don’t know how to be ourselves. It’s an identity problem; you have to hide your identity.
The current problems stem from colonial days, when the Dutch made a classification of citizens which created an ‘us’ and ‘them’ gap between Chinese Indonesians and so-called indigenous Indonesians. The classification created certain privileges (mostly economic) for the Chinese Indonesians, and that produced the social envy which lay behind the sporadic tensions and anti-Chinese riots. The official response to those tensions was to “eliminate the differences” by eliminating the cultural identity of Chinese Indonesians. Hence all the laws about names, holidays, schools and the Chinese language. It’s very important to know that many Chinese Indonesians backed this policy. It was called ‘asimilasi’ – assimilation. This is a very distinctive feature of the ‘discrimination’ against Chinese Indonesians, and it’s an important background to the feelings explored in the film. It’s not unusual to hear of discrimination against minorities, but it’s rare to find a systematic or collective effort to erase cultural identity – especially one that comes from within the minority group itself.
Erasing a culture like that is a kind of cultural genocide, a crime against humanity, but for many decades not a whisper of protest was raised against it. One reason for that is that it wasn’t possible to question ‘authority’ in Indonesia until the Reformasi period began after the overthrow of Suharto. But it’s equally true that it wasn’t questioned because many people, ignorant or afraid, thought it was a sensible policy.
The next important feature of the Chinese dilemma in Indonesia is inconsistency or contradiction. On the one hand, there are conditions which force you to hide, deny or renounce your cultural heritage, obviously an important part of your identity. On the other hand, you are continually made conscious of your ‘difference’ through things like the SBKRI (“Letter of Proof of Citizenship”). To get an ID card, a passport, even to sit a school exam, you have to check a box on a form to indicate your citizenship. Chinese Indonesians have to check the box marked “WNI Keturunan” (“Citizen of Foreign Descent”). It doesn’t specify which race you’ve descended from, but somehow it applies only to Chinese Indonesians; an Arab Indonesian, for example, wouldn’t feel that he had to check this box. This is very cruel: you’re forced to ‘assimilate’, and yet you’re constantly told that you don’t quite deserve to be a ‘real’ Indonesian.
Even worse than the legacy of discrimination and persecution as experienced in riots and hostile legislation is the fear that has been handed down from generation to generation. Fear in all its many gradations: paranoia, insecurity, discomfort, confusion and so on. That’s what this film is about: the fear and the various responses it provokes, such as desperation, hope, dashed hopes, numbness, the search for answers …
Since ‘Reformasi’ many laws have been changed. There’s a re-emergence or resurrection of Chinese culture in Indonesia. But this isn’t an answer to the dilemmas in the film. Many people cannot respond to the revival of Chinese culture; they are numb to it. It doesn’t soothe their discomfort or confusion, their fear or anger in its different forms, and it doesn’t answer their questions. If you’ve felt these things even once in your life, the revival in Chinese culture will not be enough to heal you.
Am I right in thinking that it was the Chinese who brought film-making to Indonesia? Emigrés from Shanghai, who arrived in the late 1920s?
Yes, that’s right.
Why did you choose this subject for your first feature?
It’s the biggest issue for me. I’ve had lots of questions about it in my mind since I was a kid, and my parents never answered them very clearly, so they’ve stayed with me and become a problem. In Indonesia, it’s so difficult to make a film. I’ve finished shooting this one, and I want to finish the post-production now. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to have a career as a film-maker. I can’t be sure that I’ll ever make a second feature. So I want my first film to show the most important thing in my life, and I want to do it now, while I have my energy.
The kaleidoscopic structure here echoes your short film A Very Slow Breakfast, in which the viewer discovers only gradually that the characters are members of the same family. Can you say something about this approach?
I think it is … a coincidence.
I doubt it! You’re obviously drawn to non-linear storytelling, building something up from fragments. I’d call it centripetal storytelling: it has a center and shards fall out in different directions from that center.
To be honest, I try to follow my subconscious instincts when I make films. I don’t think things through in advance, I try to let the film take the shape it seems to want.
The main story in this film is the relationship between the firecracker girl Linda and the editor boy Cahyono. You see them in flashbacks when they were kids, and she asks him “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As she’s grown up, Linda has seen how those around her respond to the identity question: her father the dentist, her mother the former badminton champion, her grandpa the billiard player, and her non-Chinese best friend the editor. She takes on board all these realities, exactly as all Chinese Indonesians of my generation do. But I want to give each character his or her autonomy, to show how each of them copes with the problems and survives. And so I need to show not only Linda’s reality but also those of the eight other characters – including the pig.
Romi and Yahya represent power. As I’ve already suggested, Chinese Indonesians as a group have always been screwed by whoever was in power: the Dutch, Sukarno, Suharto. It was their fate as a minority group to be taken advantage of. Sometimes they’ve been cast as scapegoats, a smokescreen for whatever was really wrong, and sometimes they’ve been exploited for their economic standing. At the same time, because they’re in constant need of ‘protection’, Chinese Indonesians have always sucked up to whoever is in power, be they politicians or the military. The relationship between the dentist and the couple represents exactly this vicious circle of dependency in the Chinese Indonesian story. Towards the end of the film, we learn that the couple may not even be real officials, when we see them shopping for uniforms. I guess the implication is that ‘power’ can be a uniform that you put on. You may not be entitled to it, it may not be justified, there may be no substance to it at all, but it gets you what you want.
The dental nurse Salma is not Chinese. She’s someone who wants to become popular, she wants to appear on Planet Idol. I wanted this in the film because it’s so much a part of what’s happening now in Indonesia; everyone wants to be famous and appear on TV. We have so many ‘reality’ shows and talent contests. So when Salma goes on the show, she wears an Islamic headscarf. It’s her way of grabbing the audience’s attention and sympathy. It signals that she’s really devout so that she can win more votes from the viewers. I guess that expresses my view of the ways that people manipulate religion. Anyhow, her relationship with the dentist Halim represents another circle of dependency. He wants to marry her, a Muslim, because that will bring him closer to a non-Chinese identity, which represents to him a potentially better life. (At the same time, ironically, he’s taking steps to lose his Indonesian identity by trying to enter the American ‘Green Card Lottery’.) And Salma takes advantage of the relationship to get what she wants, which is to become a pop idol.
Respecting the individual agendas of all these characters, whether they’re of Chinese descent or not, is what makes the film look fragmented. The structure allows many underlying layers to emerge. I have made shorts (like the new one, Hulahoop Soundings) which demand a more linear kind of storytelling, but Blind Pig is essentially about feelings – and, as you know, feelings and logical thinking don’t really go together. I don’t think it’s possible to ‘design’ emotion in a logical way. Certainly I can’t do it.
We didn’t have a screenplay as such for the film, we had something more like a description of the action, broken into 40 distinct sequences. We shot them as written, and we started out editing them in the order they were written – but as we went along with the editing, we tried to puzzle it up a bit. We decided to repeat a number of things, with slight changes, but the emotion is different each time. The repetitions reflect the fact that Chinese people in Indonesia have been through the same things so many times, in the 60s, the 70s, the 90s and still now.
How did you choose the characters?
Almost 100% of the film is drawn from my own experience, and so I know these characters very well. I experienced some of these scenes myself, so it’s very personal.
Does any of them represent you directly?
Yaaaa … I think I put a lot of myself subconsciously into Linda, the firecracker girl.
How did the structure evolve?
I always start my films with one strong image clear in my mind. In this case, it was the image of Linda with the firecracker in her mouth. For me, it sums up the feeling that being Chinese in Indonesia is to be someone who is waiting for something to blow up. I’ve had that feeling in my head for so long, and the image crystallizes it. The act of taking a firecracker and putting it in your mouth like a hotdog somehow becomes a metaphor for the way that feelings build up and accumulate over time.
The firecracker is one of several specifically Chinese motifs that appear in the film. Did you put them there strategically?
Some I chose, some came in spontaneously. I just put in things that I relate to. I could compare my film with other Indonesian films that deal with Chinese issues, where the architecture, the locations, the props, the wardrobe, everything is so Chinese. I didn’t want to do that in Blind Pig. Because the characters here don’t really want to be Chinese. They hide the signs of their Chinese ancestry. You can still see that there’s a Chinese element to them, but it’s hiding somewhere. You can smell it.
The pig is also in some sense a leading character. Exactly how much of a taboo are pigs and pork in Indonesia?
In Bali, for instance. They’re Hindu, so they have no problem with pigs. There are also some villages in Java with pig farms supplying meat to the Chinese, but not so many. But if you grow up Chinese in Indonesia, you live with Muslim friends for whom eating pork – or even touching it – is a taboo.
There’s a significant background emphasis on the media in the film.
Cahyono is an editor of TV programs, and he’s working on a piece to commemorate the ten years since the riots in 1998. If I want to talk about paranoia in the Chinese Indonesian community, I have to bring in the riots. What you see in that footage is the embodiment of fear. As a member of a minority, you constantly feel threatened. You have a firecracker in your mouth, and you’re waiting for it to explode. The scene in the editing room is very important because it shows Linda and Cahyono looking this fear in the eye and gradually singing, smiling and laughing about it. It’s important that they’re from the young generation, looking at something that happened when they were little kids. They look at something that is severely uncomfortable, their eyes meet and they share a sort of comfort. They finally come to laugh at it. This is their statement, how they face the fear.
You know, after the riots in 1998, many Chinese shop-owners put up signs on their premises reading “Owned by Muslims”. They also put Indonesian military stickers on their cars. I have a cousin who did it.
Aside from the riot footage, which was given to us by the cameraman who shot it, I wanted to use television broadcasts to add elements to the film which wouldn’t otherwise appear. You also hear sound from a TV program about prostitution for example. The other TV programs you see – the show that tries to interview Linda, the talent contest and the TV evangelist – all represent things that I think are wrong with TV today.
Why do you use the Stevie Wonder song several times in different contexts?
The Stevie Wonder song is … so annoying. It was a popular song when I was a kid, you heard it everywhere. I chose to use it here because it represents the work of a black American who is blind but who became massively popular. As such, he’s an inspiration to the dentist Halim. If a blind, black man can become popular in America, Halim wants to bring his family to America.
Do you think of yourself as a surrealist?
To be honest, I’m not very good with “isms”. The most interesting thing for me about cinema is that it can be so magical, almost mystical. It’s shocking! The way cinema does this is so beautiful for me. As I said, I start from one powerful image or sequence, and something surprising comes from it. Look what was started by the first films screened by the Lumière Brothers … so magical.
We’ve already had a lot of feedback about the unconventional (and, for many, uncomfortable) form of this film, the way it tells its stories. Personally, we’ll be happy if the story and characters provoke discussion. Linear storytelling is perhaps not always the best way to tell a story, especially not this particular story. That’s why we didn’t spell out the characters’ attributes, jobs and relationships in the film. Things are obviously interconnected, but it’s never that explicit. That’s why we always say that the story is built up from fragments – pieces of broken glass that you can put together to form a mosaic. And the process of putting the pieces together should lead to discussion – hopefully, many layers of discussion.
Ultimately the form of the film, its content and the way it’s edited, mirrors the feeling that it is trying to express and the story it is trying to tell: how it feels to be Chinese in Indonesia. Uneasiness, unidentified feelings, repeated confusion, unclear causes and effects. Scattered puzzle pieces, fragments, which you sense are part of a bigger story. A strong feeling, although you’re not exactly sure where it comes from. So you ask yourself what the story is and why you find yourself feeling that way. That’s how we hope the audience will participate. We’re not offering the viewer a story with a beginning, middle and end, but, we hope, something more than that: a whole experience.
– from an interview by Tony Rayns (30 January 2008)
A Conversation with EdwinInterview by: Alexis A. Tioseco
Interview recorded November 26, 2006 at Brew & Co. Menteng, Jakarta during the Jakarta Slingshort Film Festival.
Refined yet playful in aesthetic, often with leaps in logic, Edwin has carved out a unique place – and represents a unique voice – among filmmakers in Southeast Asia. Hailed by many as one of the finest short filmmakers in the region (he has exhibited his work in Rotterdam, Oberhausen, and the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes respectively), there is a force to his aesthetic, a punch to his imagery and use of sound, and a certain degree of modernism in his insistence on working with celluloid. I sat down with Edwin in November of 2006 to discuss each of his major short films, not receiving his film degree, his collaborators, and finally, Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, his eagerly anticipated first-feature film.
Alexis Tioseco: We’ll go through your films. So we’ll start with A Very Slow Breakfast. You made it in what year?
AT: And it’s not a school project?
E: It’s not a school project.
AT: You shot it on what format?
AT: When we spoke previously, you talked about it having to do with the family, specifically the Asian family now. What is it you want to say?
E: Actually it’s about a dysfunctional family. And here in Indonesia I see a lot of couples— husband and wife— that are pretending. Something has happened in their life, and I think it’s a problem, but they keep it a secret, as if it’s okay. It affects the children, [who are forced to] just pretend that everything’s okay, so the neighbors, the people, the parents of the couple won’t know. Because divorce is not good in Indonesia, not allowed in Indonesian…
AT: …by law can you be divorced? Because there is no divorce in Philippine law.
E: Actually yes, but the culture and religion, especially in Muslim and Catholic (religion) it’s kind of taboo. So if theirs a problem, they pretend they can fix the problem, but actually it’s become, the pretending has become, routine. That’s the basic idea of A Very Slow Breakfast.
AT: Do you think it’s something that happens more in Jakarta, or also in all parts of Indonesia?
E: In all of Indonesia I think. Though in big cities like Jakarta, they are still pretending, in smaller cities or villages, it’s more complicated. But maybe in the city the problem is more complex. People in the village, they have problems but not as complex, I think, that people here in the capital city. It depends…
AT: What makes it more complex in Jakarta, than in the village…
E: The society is…how can I say it… [pause]
AT: People mind each other’s business more?
E: People like to hear good things about you, and if your image is bad, it affects your job.
AT: So it becomes very important… image, face…
E: Image, yeah.
AT: And for this film, does it have a very personal aspect for you and your family?
E: [Pause] I’ve seen this kind of family in my childhood, in my own family. But I think it’s the usual thing…that it happens like that. But now I realize that it’s not the fault of the individual. It’s because of the situation, the society, and even because of our history.
AT: In the film, one thing I thought was quite striking was how the father just gives the money, and is not minding anything else. The son has his dandruff problem, but he doesn’t mind it. Is that something that’s very strong, an important a mentality that’s very prominent in Indonesian families, that the father really just works to provide, and if he does, he thinks he’d done his job.
E: Yeah, it’s the image of leadership in family; the father should make money, and give the children money for their school, for their entertainment. It’s kind of a responsibility, but it becomes a routine responsibility.
AT: And the mother is fairly absent in the film?
E: In this film I want to portray a family where this the major authority is in the father, and [the] mother usually can not do anything even [if] she knows that something bad is happening in her family. She tries to respect her husband and it happens quite frequently in Jakarta also.
AT Also, one of the things that I thought was most important, was that it’s breakfast, its supposed to be the start of the day, and the brother puts the money in the jar, and he doesn’t need it – because he has other money there— and he goes back to sleep. But this is after breakfast. Is that something you’d like to say?
E: It’s just the end of the routine. When we are with a group; we are with family, but [it is] when we are by ourselves that life actually starts. But this group thing, these family gatherings, it’s always in our life. You can sometimes that you are bothered by these things, but it happens in our lives, you cannot do it alone, individually, and not care about your family.
AT: The act of him going back to sleep? Or going to lie down?
E: It’s just the way I want to end this routine. Sleep is like releasing, you can run away from your routine. And I enjoy sleeping, that’s why I’m late [for the interview today].
AT: Me too. In Dajang Soembi, on one hand it deals a bit with family—father, son, wife— but on the other, you’ve told me previously that it was a bit of an allegory for Indonesia. And at the same time it’s this fable that you’re utilizing, and the fact that you use the silent film aesthetic—you’ve said that this is the first Indonesian silent film—to express it..
AT: How do you combine these things, how do they connect with what you want to say? So you are using a fairly tale, or a fable, and a silent film, to say what you want to about Indonesia.
E: To be honest I think its coincidence. Because I’m just interested in this story, Dajang Soembi, only this part of it.
AT: The story [of Dajang Soembi] is much longer?
E: It’s longer. It’s [the film] is only the introduction in the book. The focus actually is only on the love story of the son and the mother. But I chose this, because we’ve never heard this before, but [also because] Indonesia has a very dark culture between father, mother and son. From this dark image, I’m translating into the medium, and we agreed that this is [a] silent film, black and white, gritty material. It also speaks for our political situation. I realized later — after a long talk with friends — [that] it’s like our situation now, when [this] younger generation is not yet ready to take over the country. And the country is not safe. Still not safe. So it’s like a coincidence.
AT: Did you have this conversation before you made the film or after you made?
E: After I edited the film. It [the short story] happened a long time ago, but its like history repeats [itself].
AT: What was your main reason for wanting to make it as a silent film?
E: The main reason is, besides the fact that the image that you see when you read the story is dark—I always see silent film as a pure cinema form. And it speaks for that period. If you make a silent film today, with contemporary issues, it still has a feeling that it happened long, long ago. It’s like it is immortal. So maybe that’s why we realized that these political things happened at that time also.
AT: And you mentioned also that there are no Indonesian silent-films?
E: Yeah, we checked our books, we have Indonesian silent-films but they were made by [the] Dutch or Chinese, with the point of view of a foreign culture. [The] Dutch made silent films, [gave the impression that] Indonesians are bad. So we have no silent films that are made by Indonesians, with a pure Indonesian point-of-view. And if you read, the first Indonesian movie, that is Darah Dan Doah (1950). We all agree that this is the first Indonesian movie; all made by Indonesians, and it gives a strong statement that this is the Indonesian situation. And it’s a talkie, it’s black and white and it’s a talkie.
AT: What year was it made?
E: 1949 I think [Editor’s note: the fallible imdb informs that it is 1950]. I haven’t checked the independent side; I’ve just checked everything that’s written. Maybe there are some silent films, but I’m not so sure that people wanted it to be a silent film as a silent film. I treated Dajang Soembi as a silent film; we are pretending we are living in that year, so we designed all the shots, we designed all the posters, the form, the music [in the vain of a film from the silent era], we even premiered at JIFFest with string quartet. We are pretending like we did not make this film, we just found the footage, we edited it, and we made the film [as if it’s] real.
AT: When you screened it, was it on film or projected video?
E: Projected video, because the material is not quite strong. We developed it by hand, not machine, because if you run it many times in a projector, [there will be] scratches, and the image will fade.
AT: So you developed the film yourself?
E: Yes, with the cinematographer.
AT: And then to get the look, you used expired film, or you scratched the film yourself?
E: No, we used good material, black and white [stock] that we bought from the Internet, we developed it with photochemicals for slide film, black and white. We did it in a bucket, but we didn’t do it with proper timing and [in a] proper place, so the processing self-destructed. So we didn’t scratch anything, we didn’t plan to destruct the image.
AT: You wanted it to be clean?
E: We didn’t expect to have clean material, because this is hand-processed. But we also didn’t plan to destruct it; but it happened. Actually one reel is lost, we over-processed it and the image got very faded, [it was] white only. So we thought the film wanted to be made like that. We can’t predict what will happen after shooting.
AT: What was on the reel that’s missing?
E: You remember some still photos?
E: Those scenes.
AT: It’s supposed to be those, but captured on film?
AT: That’s the part which introduces the characters?
E: Yeah, and also the scene where Dajang Soembi is drawing pictures, and the paper flies because of the wind, and she swears that anyone who helps her get the papers— if he is a man, she will marry him, if she is a woman, she will be her sister. And the fucking scene, the making love scene between the dog and Dajang Soembi.
AT: That’s also part of the one reel that’s missing?
E: Yeah, but I found a little—maybe about three seconds, and I put it in the flashback of Toemang and Dajang Soembi, and it’s intercut with Sangkoreiang.
AT: But you intended for the lovemaking scene in the film?
E: Yeah. So the scene is Dajang Soembi posing as a dog, and Toemang comes in through her skirt, and makes doggie style.
AT: But he is there also in the…
E: Dog costume.
AT: Was Dajang Soembi made for school?
E: No, not for school. Me and [cinematographer] Sidi [Saleh] felt we needed to learn black and white cinematography, but the materials, the processing, they [the school] could not afford it. They have no access. So I researched on the Internet, and I proposed, “this is the cheapest way to make a black and white [film]”. But they were not sure that it should be made into an important thing to teach in class.
AT: You mean you proposed it to the school, this is how you can teach—this is the cheapest way?
E: Yeah. And we were ready for this. What are the chemicals, how many minutes is the developing time – everything is okay – but the teachers said we cannot do this, because it seems like a temporal [thing]. If you want to make it…
AT: …in the commercial film industry?
E: They are not saying [anything] about commercial films but they just refused [because they see it] to be complicated, I think. Black and white is quite complicated.
AT: For what class were you proposing this?
E: For cinematography.
AT: The class of Faozan [Rizal, experimental filmmaker and teacher at IKJ]?
E: No, I didn’t propose it to Faozan because Faozan was not making the decisions for the curriculum or workshops, so I proposed it to the higher-level, the Head of Film Department.
Another link to interview at FIPRESCI
Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly: Chinese Indonesians, Portrayed Hauntingly Mind-blowing By Dana Linssen
Interview on Youtube at Karlovy Vary Film Festival
Thanks for this, Yuki. I can’t wait to check out his work.
Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly has so far been one of my very favorite films of this competition, and I love it even more now that I know more about it from reading your post.
Thanks for introducing us to this director. Best of luck in the competition!
Great job Yuki! Yayyyyyyyyyyy for Edwin!
can’t wait to check more of him out Yuki.
ur welcome n thx for stopping by, as he mentioned above, it’s his most personal film, and yes his shorts and next feature are not dealing with issues as “serious” as in Blind Pig.
Thank you for all of this, Yuki. Edwin is one of the most interesting and talented contemporary directors I’m aware of. Hopefully he’ll find some new fans here.
ditto yay! thanks for this yuki! some background context to blind pig is helpful…(and what a pretty pig)…
Blind Pig impressed me, but I found the near-ending confusing and not making any sense for me.
@Nino which scene is it?
Yuki – i’ll send you a PM about it.
I cannot stop singing “I just called to say I love you”. I mean I watched this thing like two weeks ago and I’m singing it almost every day. Yaaaaargh!
I’m interested to hear that Edwin had the reputation as being one of the best short filmmakers of his region because I felt like watching Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly that the director would be better making short films. It didn’t come together well at all to me, but I figured there might some interest with some shorter more experimental type works.
Can anyone tell me where I can see A Very Boring Conversation?
Max…sadly the link that was available before has been deleted, lucky who watched it before it happened. Or maybe you could ask Carlo or Dimitris :D
Introduction: Dajang Soembi, A Woman Who Was Married to a Dog
This film was made as an effort to convince the lecturers and the authorized official, that we can and/or should be able to make a film with celluloid medium.Dajang Soembi was made in the 2003, a transitional year where the digital medium was booming, and could be found anywhere. The authority at IKJ (Jakarta Art Institute), the school I went to, let the seniors who was about to finish their education to finish their films on video or digital format. Whereas, before the year 2000, as far as I could recall, every final project had to be done at least in 16mm, even blown up to 35mm.
At a glance, it sounds like only a technical matter. But our concern with the easiness of the using of the new
technology was something important going to be absent from the final result. For example, intuition, where IMHO it is a crucial and essential thing for a filmmaker. As an allegory to a good detective, beside measurable data and proof, they also need an intuiton as one of main ingredients for him/her to finish their job. The same thing goes as well for a filmmaker.
As this film was not a school project or assignment. Sidi Saleh (the cinematographer) and I, with our perseverance told the school official authorities, that we can give solution to solve the problem of how expensive the lab processing step.
With this film, we have proven we were and still able to make a film where the budget was feasible, and it’s still on celluloid format.Dajang Soembi, was made deliberately as a silent film, in black and white, and used the “Hand Processed” technique. Every single thing was done in our so-called laboratorium which in reality was my dormitory room at Cikini area. We bought an equipment called Lomo Tank from Russia, and some basic chemical material which are usually used to processing photography. The film We utilized was the Kodak 16mm Reversal Black and White, and none of the shooting or editing processes was involving any member from the school official authorty.
The producer (Renate Tombokan) and I, raised the funds by giving proposals to anyone or institution who might be interested, and one of them was Bank Mandiri, some equipments from Silver Screen, and also from one of IKJ alumni Roy Lolang (cinematographer of the film “What’s up With Love?”)
THe film itself was premiered at Jakarta International Film Festival back in 2004, accompanied by IKJ String
Quartet, a live music by some friends from Music Department. We won the 2nd prize of Short Film Competition at the festival, also a nomination as Best Short Film from Rotterdam International Film Festival 2005. If I were to be said as the first filmmaker in Indonesia using this difficult but artistic Hand Processed technique, I would hesitate that notion, because it might be a common technique or filmmaking process in the 70s . But no matter what the labeling is, since Dajang Soembi, the Woman Who Was Married to a Dog, until now I havent heard yet whether there is any filmmaker here doing the same kind of technique.
I hope intuition will not be vanished into thin air from Indonesian filmmaker at least, along with many improvements in this digital filmmaking era.
PS: Below is the link on how to do the Hand Processing technique for 8mm and 16mm film. But as there are different temperature and air humidity among, Jakarta, New York, and Russia, so there will be some changes on how we measure the dose for chemical material. There should be a trial and error process to find the exact formula regarding on where you live. I took notes, tried, failed, and tried again, until I dared to apply it onto the shooting process of Dajang Soembi. Because once you do a mistake, there wont be a turning back. The most fatal mistake will only leave you a blank white screen, if you do a miscalculation…
thanks for this yuki! link is out there guys…
nice yuki! very interesting
I like the film, and I’m not quite sure why.
I can’t vote for it over In The City Of Sylvia, but I would have voted for it over Last Laugh or Tristam Shandy.
What a strange, moody little film. Love the twisty, over-the-top expressionistic sets, the restrained and tranquil opening montage of photos, the final shot of the boy’s face wreathed in shadow. Very glad to have seen it, thanks.