Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Young director Hanung Bramantyo is not a communist. He's not even a leftist. In fact, he's more familiar with pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) than with Marx House.
But it's been his obsession to make movies on human stories revolving around the September 1965 aborted coup that was attributed to the Communist party, after which many alleged Communists and leftists were killed.
The Citra-award-winning director is now writing a script based on Umar Kayam's short story Bawuk.
""It is a story about Bawuk, a woman who married a leftist. Her father, a high-class Javanese man, questioned his daughter about her reason for marrying someone who caused trouble. She defended herself, telling her father about what she loved about him -- the way he spoke about the people and justice had smitten her,"" Hanung said.
He said the script would be 80 percent loyal to the short story. He expected to shoot the low-budget movie in November this year.
""But this is a sensitive issue. The censors would probably not pass the movie,"" he added.
""For this movie, I'm not charging the usual fee. I know it won't really sell, but it has been my dream for years,"" he said.
The dream began with something personal.
""My birthday is Oct. 1. The night before I always used to watch the movie Pemberontakan G30SPKI on TV,"" Hanung, born in 1975 in Yogyakarta, said.
Later in 1998 he made an award-winning short film, Tlutur, about a dancer whose leg was broken by a member of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
""Some friends told me that was not always the case with PKI. Many of its members were victims,"" he said.
He became more interested in the stories after reading a book by Hermawan Sulistyo, a report about massacre of communists and alleged communists.
""Since then I wanted to make a movie based on the book. I even planned to make the movie with a title the same as the book's: Hammer and sickle in a sugarcane field,"" he said.
""But I thought I would make a lighter movie first with Bawuk, which would be a test case,"" he said.
Although he began his directing career with ""serious"" short films, he made his name through light and entertaining movies like love story Brownies, comedy Jomblo and teen flick Catatan Akhir Sekolah.
His latest movie to hit theaters is Lentera Merah, a horror flick with a burdensome title.
For Indonesians who read books, Lentera Merah (Red Lantern) is closely associated with leftist circles, particularly a title of a history book by Soe Hok Gie, Di Bawah Lentera Merah, on the inception of PKI in the 1920s.
He's not really comfortable with the movie, which was released in mid-May.
""I received praise and criticism. But I realized, like Musashi who once fought with only one hand, I did it half-heartedly,"" he said.
He knew that, reading the title, some would expect more than just a teen horror flick.
But it was just a horror movie. He tried to touch the 1965 issue by featuring a ghost cast who was accused as a communist and killed.
But for his next movies he promised to be more serious.
Let's see, how will Hanung create such a political movie with his whole heart and half the fee?