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Madani Film Fest: Rhoma Irama, preaching and Muslim cultures

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, November 22, 2020  /  11:36 am
 Madani Film Fest: Rhoma Irama, preaching and Muslim cultures

Revisiting Rhoma: A poster for 'Satria Bergitar' (Guitar-Wielding Knight) starring dangdut singer Rhoma Irama. The film will be screened at the 2020 Madani Film Festival. (Courtesy IMDb/-)

For Indonesian people and overseas fans, he is the King of Dangdut, whose songs that started an era of pop music in the 1970s remain the anthem of today.

His popularity led him to star in 29 films, some of which have been an endless source of memes using his characters’ dialog.

It is less known, however, that those films served as a form of catharsis to the suppression of missionary endeavors during the authoritarian regime of president Soeharto.

The films of Rhoma Irama will among those showcased at the 2020 Madani Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 4.

Living legend: Musician, actor and politician Rhoma Irama receives an award at the 2020 Indonesian Movie Actors Awards on July 25 for his dedication to the industry.Living legend: Musician, actor and politician Rhoma Irama receives an award at the 2020 Indonesian Movie Actors Awards on July 25 for his dedication to the industry. (Courtesy Fimela.com/-)

The king himself will appear in a public discussion with filmmaker Garin Nugroho at the online festival, which is themed Re(Dis)covery, a stylized portmanteau of “recovery” and “rediscovery”.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Garin said the festival would revisit Rhoma Irama’s films under a program called Focus: Rhoma Irama, Gitar dan Dakwah (Guitar and Preach), a rediscovery of their values and relevance for Indonesia today.

“The country has a long history of missionary endeavors carried out through music, politics and globalism. Without realizing, it we have sidelined or ignored revolutionary moments [in history] with Rhoma Irama at the center of it all,” said Garin, who also serves as a festival board member.

“By featuring him in the festival, we are looking at a recovery of those big moments.”

Initiated by publishing collective Mizan Publika and cultural organization Pabrikultur, the third edition of the film festival will be held on digital platforms by the Jakarta Arts Council (DKJ).

The international festival aims at showcasing the life of Muslims in different parts of the world to raise people’s awareness and appreciation for Muslim diversity, thus in turn, foster international amity and tolerance.

Film programmer Lisabona Rahman has also prepared two films for the Madani Classic program.

“The history of Muslim cultures dates back hundreds of years and we can learn about them from the films made within the communities,” said Lisabona, who currently resides in Berlin.

Rediscovery: A still from Nigerian film 'Shaihu Umar', which was restored in 2016 after it was thought to be lost for decades. Rediscovery: A still from Nigerian film 'Shaihu Umar', which was restored in 2016 after it was thought to be lost for decades. (Courtesy of Arsenal - Institute of Film and Video Art/-)

The first film is Shaihu Umar, a 1976 Nigerian film directed by Adamu Halilu. The film is based on a 1955 novella of the same name authored by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a seminal work in modern Hausa literature. Balewa was the first Nigerian prime minister ruling from 1957 to 1966. 

The film, which was shot in the native Hausa language, was considered lost for a long time until film reels and copies were rediscovered in the archive of the Nigerian Film Corporation in 2016 and restored by the Arsenal-Institute for Film and Video Art.

Another film to be shown at the festival is 1985 Thai drama Butterfly and Flowers, which portrays a Buddhist-Muslim romance in Muslim-majority southern Thailand. Directed by Euthana Mukdasanit, the film was adapted from a 1978 book of the same title by Nipphan (Makut Oradee). The film was one of the earliest Thai films to gain exposure overseas.

Breaking new ground: A poster from Thai movie 'Butterfly and Flowers', which depicts the Muslim community in the country. Breaking new ground: A poster from Thai movie 'Butterfly and Flowers', which depicts the Muslim community in the country. (Courtesy of IMDb/-)

The East Cinema: Filming Afghanistan collaborative program will present three films directed by young filmmaker Jalal Rohani.

“It is our chance to see the works of filmmakers who risked their lives doing their job. I’m surprised to find that the quality of their films is on par with the films produced in countries not being hit by wars or conflicts,” said East Cinema programmer Sofia Setyorini.

Eight short films on the slice-of-life of Muslim communities in Singapore, Thailand, Iran and Indonesia will be presented in the Madani Short program, curated by Ifan Ismail of Kineforum.

Besides film screenings, the festival will also hold a series of public discussions and talk shows. 

On Saturday, American music professor Andrew N. Weintraub, the author of Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia’s Most Popular Music, would appear in a discussion on Religious Films in the New Order Regime Restrictions.

Two book launches will offer more insights on the country’s film industry and Muslim cultures. The books are Garin Nugroho’s Memoir: The Golden Age of Indonesian Films and Feby Indirani’s Memburu Muhammad (Pursuing Muhammad), the second installment of her trilogy Magical Islamism after Bukan Perawan Maria (Not Virgin Mary).

All films will be screened at kwikku.com/Klik and viddsee.com streaming platforms, while online events will be available on the Madani Film Festival and Dewan Kesenian Jakarta channels on YouTube. (ste)

 

-- For further information about festival schedules, visit madanifilmfest.id or its social media accounts.

 

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