Cine indonesio: dinámico y en evolución

Escena de Soekarno de Hanung Bramyanto

Escena de Soekarno de Hanung Bramyanto


Con una facturación anual de más de 845 millones de dólares y empleando a casi medio millón de personas, la industria cinematográfica local no se puede subestimar


Film was in a dire state, subject to censorship and the industry was mainly producing films of historical and political propaganda, as well as a few licentious horror films.

In contrast, the post-authoritarian film landscape has been vibrant, with filmmakers taking advantage of freedom of expression and government deregulation

In the early days of reform, a new generation of filmmakers including Nan Achnas, Nia Dinata, Rizal Mantovani and the director/producer duo of Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana, among others, burst onto the scene with energy and passion, and have continued to explore new themes and genres, contributing to the revival of an industry once left for dead.

Today, with an annual turnover of over US$845 million and employing almost a half million people, the local film industry is not to be underestimated.

Three genres spearheaded the revival: satirical comedies, religious dramas and inspirational local tales of upward mobility.

The 2002 blockbuster romantic comedy Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What’s Up with Cinta?) was the first big success of post-Soeharto cinema. The film’s characters were young middle-to-upper class Jakartans, and the story balanced local specificities against global consumerism.

It was followed by a range of clever comedies, such as Arisan! (Gathering!, 2003), Janji Joni (Joni’s Promise, 2005) and the Get Married series (from 2007), all of which explored and satirized the everyday culture and politics in Indonesia.

Inspired by the increasingly strong presence of Islam in Indonesia’s public sphere, religious dramas also became a popular new genre.

Hanung Bramyanto’s 2008 drama Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love, 2008), based on the novel by Habiburrahman El Shirazy, resonated with audiences, and was the first of many Islam-inspired films, such as Ketika Cinta Bertasbih 1 & 2 (When Love Worships, 2009) and Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah (Under the shelter of Ka’bah, 2011).

These religious dramas have been praised by journalists, critics politicians and even the President, with praise such as “inspirational” or “vitamins for the soul”.

Meanwhile, tales of upward mobility, usually involving poor children with big dreams, offered the broadest appeal of post-Soeharto films.

The highest-grossing Indonesian film, Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Troops, 2008) was the prototype of the genre. Set in remote Belitung Island, the film, based on the 2005 novel by Andrea Hirata, presented a very Indonesian tale, following 10 disadvantaged children as they followed their dreams.

This kind of story has surfaced again and again, in films like Sang Pemimpi (2009), Garuda di Dadaku (2009), Semesta Mendukung (2011), Serdadu Kumbang (2011), among others.
The local feel of these tales is significant, tying with a renewed sense of regionalism in Indonesia — a reaction to the highly centralized New Order.

In fact, all three genres offer a departure from Soeharto-era ideologies.

Satirical comedies parody conservatism, hypocrisy and greed in middle-to-upper class Jakarta, for example, while religious dramas react against the long marginalization of Islam under the New Order.

Of course, familiarity often breeds contempt. The commercial success of early examples of each genre have spawned so many copycat versions that now romantic comedies are referred to disparagingly as just another comedy, while religious dramas are dismissed as preachy or melodramatic and inspirational stories labelled predictable.

Ultimately, as is the case everywhere, commentators and consumers are drawn to diversity — and it appears that their desires are being fulfilled.

National cinema over the last two years has offered films from a range of genres, from action to the historical epic. The martial arts film The Raid (2011) showcased traditional pencak silat fighting and achieved huge success both locally and abroad, while omnibus films in a range of genres (Hi5teria [2012], Rectroverso [2013], Isyarat [2013]) experimented with multiple storylines within a single film.

Another genre to emerge has been the historical film. Of course, filmmakers during the New Order produced historical films, some notable — just think of Teguh Karya’s revolutionary story Doea Tanda Mata (1985); Eros Djarot’s Tjoet Nja’ Dhien (1988), featuring Christine Hakim as the famed Acehnese guerrilla leader, or Ami Prijono’s Roro Mendut (1982).

But today’s historical epics are a world away from other films of the period, such as the Soeharto’s regime propagandistic “masterpiece” Pengkhianatan G 30 S PKI, and explore themes of personal struggles and universal humanity, as well as drawing parallels with contemporary situations.

Often focusing on historical figures, examples of these new historical epics include Sang Pencerah (The Enlightener, 2010), about the founder of Muhammadiyah, the nation’s second-largest Muslim social organization; and Soejiga (2012), which followed the journey of Catholic priest Soegijapranata during the Indonesian independence struggle of the 1940s.

More recently, the wildly popular Habibie & Ainun (2013), about former president BJ Habibie’s tragic romance with his late wife, proved how keen Indonesian cinemagoers were to see historical figure on the big screen.

In addition, debate over Soekarno (2013), which depics the early career of Indonesia’s first president, shows how historical films can prompt public discussion in Indonesia.

In terms of structural changes in the industry, we have also seen the emergence of new associations and collectives representing the interests of filmmakers, producers, actors and scriptwriters.

The Indonesian Film Directors’ Club (IFDC), Indonesian Writers for the Big Screen (PILAR) and Association of Indonesian Film Producers (APROFI) are just a few examples.

Despite a decade of growth for Indonesian cinema, many of the young filmmakers involved in these organizations still see significant challenges ahead.

According to the head of APROFI, Sheila Timothy, known as Lala, those involved in all stages of film production need to unite and define coherent goals.

“It is increasingly crucial that we get organized,” said Lala, “Audience numbers are decreasing and belief in the Indonesian film industry is also declining. Sponsors say that Indonesian films don’t attract big enough audiences, but that is often because they get such short screening times, and this is something we need to address.”

Robby Ertanto, a director, screenwriter and member of PILAR, expressesed a similar sentiment, encouraging filmmakers to work together, sharing experiences and challenges.

“These filmmakers associations are all about structuring our vision and mission for the industry.”

It is clear that there is still much to be done to strengthen Indonesian cinema. But despite pessimism, what stands out when looking at the past decade of Indonesian cinema is a tale of astounding revival and innovation.

Fuente:, Meghan Downes / Foto: MVP Pictures / Selección y adaptación: JLJM



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