Supplement

Reminiscing the glorious
past of Indonesian films

It’s a bit annoying that decomposing bodies, called by different names according to the way they are wrapped in white cloth, is the dominant element of Indonesia’s long spanning movie scene – starting from 1926 with roughly 3,000 titles.

Throw in some hot babes – preferably those who don’t mind to be scantily clad -, ship them off to some island or remote area that doesn’t necessarily exist on the map, get the animated decomposing bodies to scare them around a bit and voila! You have a plot.

If additional flavor is needed, get someone pregnant. If other pathetic efforts for a plot fail, get two stars quarreling on set – for real if they have to - and boom! You’ve got a unique selling point.

Regular people would be moved by these movies - away from their seats, while smart people would stay well clear of them. Luckily, modern Indonesian movies do not fall entirely under the genre of corny-disgusting-horror. Some of the gems do move you in a good way, with directors getting it right by putting more efforts into the storyline.

But don’t get it wrong, because apparently things were a lot messier back in the early days of Indonesian movies. Ghosts were not just competing with themselves back then; they were perpetually engulfed in battles with scary witches, modern superheroes, mythical conquerors riding giant birds or snakes, even pop and dangdut legends.

Obviously, there were some movies that looked exactly like today’s dominating titles, but they were soon forgotten. Sadly, we never learn.

Like every other month of March since 2006, Kineforum tries its best to replay some of the old Indonesian movies that can be categorized as classics - viewed from what they have achieved in the past in terms of story line, motion effects and acting quality - throughout the month, allowing us to indulge in the guilty pleasure of watching different titles responsible for starting this whole mess.

Initiated by the Jakarta Art Council, Kineforum started off with the idea of providing a dedicated movie theatre to play classic Indonesian movies and international contemporary films only, all for free. It has two theatres now, Theatre 1 of Taman Ismail Marzuki XXI with 130 seats and Kineforum’s office behind Gallery Cipta 3 of TIM with 45 seats. Later, Gallery Cipta 3 served as an additional space for the forum’s seminars, discussions and concerts.

This March brings back the body of work of famous Indonesian directors, namely Slamet Rahardjo, Arifin C. Noer and Usmar Ismail. Some of the highly rated Indonesian classics on screen include Gundala Putra Petir (1981), the movie that rocketed Suzanna to cult stardom Beranak Dalam Kubur (1971), heartbreaking documentary style Raja Jin Penjaga Pintu Kereta (1974) and the poignant classic Badut Badut Kota (1993).

You can still catch Arifin C. Noer’s Taksi (1990) and Usmar Ismail’s master piece Darah dan Doa (1950) this week. Download your schedule at kineforum’s website http://www.dkj.or.id or blog www.kineforum.com .

It’s simple, get yourself a schedule, find some friends to get you to TIM, choose a movie to see for free and voila! You’ve got a plot to do this week.

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