Youths should use film as ‘resistance’
The island’s youths should begin to see film not only as a medium of entertainment but also as a tool of resistance, to voice their interpretations of the world around them, an award-winning documentary filmmaker said.
“For years, the visual interpretations about our island and our culture have mostly been constructed by non-Balinese, non-Indonesian visual artists. They have explored, and sometimes exploited, the richness of our culture. Through documentary film, we can present an alternative discourse, a counter narrative to that construction,” Dwitra J Ariana said during the panel discussion of the 2012 Bali Emerging Writers Festival (BEWF) on Friday at Serambi Arts Antida in east Denpasar.
Ariana, whose documentary about Chinese and native Balinese enculturation in Lampu village, Bangli, won the national documentary film competition, pointed out Kissed by a Crocodile and Cowboy’s in Paradise, both documentaries on local gigolos, as examples of the singular narrative created by outsiders.
“Those films represent the subjective perspectives of their creators, the viewpoint that sees the island as a haven for sex tourism. Why don’t we create a counter narrative from our perspective, a powerful argument that the island is not all only about sex tourism,” he stressed to dozens of high school and university students who participated in the discussion.
His fellow speaker, video art director Ridwan Rudianto, said that the local youths had an obvious advantage if they wanted to use film, documentary or other genres, as a tool to build counter narratives.
“Bali is a very rich island from an audiovisual perspective and a large number of people, here in Indonesia and abroad, are very interested in learning and knowing more about this island. So far, we only offer them barong dance, grand rituals, magnificent processions, but all those are only the outer layers of the fabric of this island. What about the deeper layers, the internal mechanism of this great culture, the detailed portrayal that only a Balinese will have sufficient knowledge and understanding of to capture and present them to the world?”
The emergence of various social media and video-sharing sites, Rudianto pointed out, had also
destroyed the barrier that previously prevented young filmmakers gaining the acknowledgement they truly deserved.
“In the olden times, you had to approach a big investor or a movie company to have your film actually filmed and then you had to have it screened in a cinema to reach wider audience. Nowadays, you could use your cell phone to record your movie, edit it on your laptop and upload it to YouTube and suddenly you have the whole world as your audience,” he said, adding that he extensively used social media and video-sharing sites to gain input for his art videos.
He admitted that the local film industry was far behind that of Jakarta and many other major cities in the country.
“Here we have only one cinema and the country’s movie industry basically is there in Jakarta. But, overall, given the fact that the country only has one film school, Indonesia is still lagging behind other nations. Yet, that’s not a valid reason to stop doing what we love to do,” he stressed.
On Saturday afternoon, BEWF will organize a panel on social activism featuring Robi Supriyanto, the front man of popular band Navicula-cum-urban farming and participative journalism activist, and Pande Putu Setiawan, the founder of Anak Alam, a volunteer-based organization committed to bringing alternative education to underprivileged children in isolated villages on the rim of Batur caldera.