The Jakarta Post
A still from 'The Science of Fictions.' (KawanKawan Media/File)
The movie The Science of Fictions, originally titled Hiruk-Pikuk si Alkisah, won the Silver Hanoman award at Revival, the 14th Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival, which was held from Nov. 19 to 23 in Yogyakarta.
The film, previously screened at the 2019 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, is the work of director Yosep Anggi Noen. It was one of 16 out of 117 films that were selected to be screened and compete for the Asian Feature category. The Silver Hanoman award is for the first runner-up, while the overall winner, which is House of Hummingbird directed by director Bora Kim of South Korea and the United States, received the Golden Hanoman award.
“I am very happy,” Anggi told The Jakarta Post, after attending the gala premiere of the film held by the Yogyakarta Culture Agency on Monday.
The judging panel for the Asian Feature category comprised Ravi Bharwani, Nandita Solomon and Raymond Phathanavirangoon. In their consideration, The Science of Fictions deserved the Silver Hanoman Award because of its singular creative vision and political message. The thematic strength of the film resonated strongly especially in current times, and not just in Indonesia.
The 100-minute film tells the story of a village man named Siman (played by Teater Garasi actor Gunawan Maryanto), who accidentally witnesses the staging of the moon landing on Parangtritis Beach back in the 1960s. He is caught and his tongue cut out so that he will not tell anyone what he saw.
But Siman has his own way of recounting what he saw to the people of his village. The cinematic wildness of the film -to be released in January 2020- also illustrates how Siman describes what he saw through physical movement, including moving slowly to portray an astronaut in space. To add to his lunatic image, Siman also wears an astronaut costume.
“Every big political event has an impact on the body,” said the director.
Anggi, who often raises issues around him for his films said that The Science of Fictions was inspired by the tumult of political events, technology and global culture that affected Indonesia: The Cold War that led to the Sept. 30, 1965 coup and mass murder in Indonesia, followed by the birth of the New Order - when the new rulers presented such fictions as affordable basic needs and a democracy that was in good working order.
Witnesses of Indonesia’s darkest days still find it difficult to testify, even today.
“The film can stimulate the audience’s thoughts, that if they want to search for an alternative history, it’s good. But if they don’t, this work is my contribution to the film industry,” said Anggi.
The Science of Fictions took seven years to complete, requiring a large budget and Anggi had to source financial support from France, the Netherlands and Malaysia, as well as Indonesia. A tough task that paid off, eventually, as the film won a Special Mention at the Locarno Film Festival, and had the chance of a screening at the “A Window on Asia Cinema” program in the Busan International Film Festival.
Anggi, who won the Usmar Ismail best director award in 2017, emerged naturally from the dynamics of the film industry in Yogyakarta after the start of the Reform era in 1998 until he finally received a scholarship from the Busan International Festival in 2007 to study film.
He has created a number of films that have been screened at international festivals, including Vakansi yang Janggal dan Penyakit Lainnya (Peculiar Vacation and Other Illnesses) and Istirahatlah Kata-kata (Solo, Solitude). The former won a special mention and the Dragon and Tiger award for young cinema at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Meanwhile, the latter, which tells the story of missing activist Wiji Thukul, won the Special Jury award at the Love is Folly International Film Festival in Bulgaria in 2017. (vel/mut)
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