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Friendship, love, nostalgia: South Korean film ‘Sunny’ to get Indonesian remake

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, March 13, 2019  /  06:01 pm
Friendship, love, nostalgia: South Korean film ‘Sunny’ to get Indonesian remake

Friendship: Seven girls become good friends in high school, then events pull them apart for 25 years in South Korean film 'Sunny'. (Courtesy of CJ Entertainment/-)

Popular South Korean film Sunny will get an Indonesian remake called Bebas (Free) later this year in collaboration with Miles Films and South Korean powerhouse production house CJ Entertainment.

As a country with a significant population that is gaga over South Korean content, Indonesia seems like a ripe market that will guarantee success for CJ Entertainment this year.

The original Sunny tells the tale of longing for youth as well as coming to terms with maturity and adulthood, focusing on love and friendship.

Directed by Kang Hyeong-Cheol, the film centers around a woman named Im Na-Mi (Yu Ho-jeong) who tries to reconnect with her high school friends through the obvious obstacles centered on life and age.

When initially released in 2011, Sunny became one of the most successful South Korean films, with over 7 million viewers, and the fourth highest grossing film in South Korea.

Its popularity eventually spread to the Korea-hungry population of Indonesia, where the film developed its own significant fan base, leading to the idea of an Indonesian remake.

Miles Films was chosen, according to CJ Entertainment producers, because of its ability to convey the right tone and feeling for films like Sunny, proven through films such as 2008’s Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors) and 2002’s smash Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What’s Up with Cinta?).

Bebas will feature an all-star cast, with the leads taken by Baim Wong and Marsha Timothy. Other actors like Agatha Priscilla, Widi Mulia, Zulfa Maharani, Amanda Rawles, Sheryl Sheinafia, Indy Barens, Brandon Salim and Baskara Mahendra will also star in the film.

Bebas will also follow the exact non-linear story flow of Sunny. It will be directed by Riri Riza.

Nostalgic: South Korean film 'Sunny' will get an Indonesian remake under the title 'Bebas' (Free). Nostalgic: South Korean film 'Sunny' will get an Indonesian remake under the title 'Bebas' (Free). (Courtesy of CJ Entertainment/-)

Sunny has been remade in several languages and versions, with plans in the pipeline for more regional remakes. The Indonesian version will be film’s the fourth remake, following in the wake of Vietnamese and Japanese remakes. After Indonesia, there are plans for a Thai version and development in Hollywood.

CJ producer Yeonu Choi praised the enthusiasm of the various countries participating to create their own takes on the film, highlighting the film’s popularity outside South Korea as well as the versatility in which the film’s themes were able to be adapted elsewhere.

“That’s why we pride ourselves on working with different directors in each territory so that they are able to create their own unique versions of Sunny, instead of just remaking the original version,” she explained.

Bebas will be shot primarily in Jakarta: a city that Mira admitted she had not used as a location since shooting Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? 17 years ago.

Riri Riza said there would be a significant throwback to the 1990s in Bebas, adhering to the nostalgia factor’s strength in presenting such themes so that it is able to stick in the hearts and minds of the audience.

The term bebas (free) is also related to his vision of how the film is going to be.

“Being free is part of the film’s philosophy. It’s felt so much in our youth and we miss it greatly when we get old. The idea of being carefree gives us hope and optimism, and that’s what I want the film to be like,” the director said.

The film will likely be set in the 1990s, a period which many Indonesians, especially those who grew up with Riri and Mira’s films, would relate to in a big way, considering that “90s kids” seem to be the primary target market for this film.

The use of classic 1990s the hip hop song “Bebas” by rapper Iwa K in the trailer, only lends itself to this nostalgic upsurge, with Riri saying the song would have a prominent role in the film.

Riri’s idea parallels the events and setting of the original Sunny, which is set in the 1980s and is peppered with 1980s songs and cultural references.

Bebas’ primary scriptwriter Mira Lesmana, who is cofounder of Miles Films, emphasized the relatabilities of Sunny, saying that the familiar themes made it an easy and fitting watch for Indonesian audiences.

Mira said she hoped to present the film, which is due out sometime at the end of 2019, in the best way.

“I think this story will have a special place in the hearts of the Indonesian audience. I can almost immediately envision how the themes of friendship, love and nostalgia can be presented here.

“We expect this to be an old fashioned feel-good film, that’s able to be enjoyed by kids as well as their parents,” Mira said. (ste)