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Short film ‘Laut Bercerita’ preserves the novel’s humanity

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, February 28, 2018  /  03:34 pm
Short film ‘Laut Bercerita’ preserves the novel’s humanity

In 30 minutes, the short film 'Laut Bercerita', helmed by Pritagita “Prita” Arianegara, recounts the story of the novel of the same name written by Leila S. Chudori. (

Laut Bercerita (The Sea Speaks His Name) is a short film adapted from Leila S. Chudori’s latest book of the same name. The 30 minute film was helmed by Pritagita “Prita” Arianegara and written by Leila herself.

The novel and film tell the story of  Biru “Laut” Wibisono (Reza Rahadian), who, as a college student and pro-democracy activist in 1998, was abducted from his apartment in Klender, East Jakarta, by four mysterious people. He was then kept in an unknown place for months alongside fellow activists; Alex Perazon (Tanta Ginting), Naratama (Ade Firman Hakim) and Sunu Dyantoro (Haydar Saliszh).

They were held captive, tortured and interrogated. The abductors demanded information about the person behind their movement at that time.

The film not only depicts the suffering of the characters, but also shows Laut’s family including his parents (Tio Pakusadewo and Aryani Willems) and younger sister Asmara Jati (Ayushita Nugraha), and his girlfriend, Anjani (Dian Sastrowardoyo). Some scenes explore how the family's happiness changed after Laut’s disappearance. Asmara then actively participates in the search for justice for her brother and other missing activists.

Read also: Film adaptation of 'Laut Bercerita' restrained, but powerful

Those who have read the book may feel the film needed to have a longer duration. While it includes the necessary scenes from the book, there are other parts that still needed to be included to give audiences a greater sense of the emotion. The film preserves the book’s humanity, and the audience are drawn to feel close to the characters, especially Laut.

After the screening at Salihara Community in South Jakarta on Wednesday, Feb. 21, Prita explained that the film was initially made to be screened during the book’s launch. Leila has been known to include other elements in her book launch event, such as readings and black-and-white film. “But this time they wanted to make something different, like a short film to begin the launch,” Prita said. “Actually there was a time when I was confused and afraid that the film wouldn’t represent the novel, but in the end Mbak Leila said, ‘Calm down, I’ll make the scenario and these are the parts that I’ve chosen'.”

After the scenes were chosen, Prita said the preproduction took around two weeks, while the shooting took only three days because of the limited budget. “The three days included scenes in prison, in houses and underwater,” Prita said. (mut)

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