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Questioning history through Indonesian cinema

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, January 23, 2021  /  11:41 am
Questioning history through Indonesian cinema

Mind-bending collage: A still from 'Genre Sub Genre', an experimental short film by Yosep Anggi Noen, challenges the notion of film as documentation in this scene, which shows a giant paper boat sailing on a lake. The award-winning film was supported by the Museum of East Nusa Tenggara. (Courtesy of

Historical movies don’t even need to be all that factual. A typical example is the many movies with plots that reference Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, his personal life, the Holocaust, and the world war he started during his dictatorship. Quentin Tarantino’s critically acclaimed Inglourious Basterds and Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, as well as satirical comedies by German filmmakers like David Wnendt’s Look Who’s Back and Sönke Wortmann’s How About Adolf?, are just some of the hypothetical (alternative history) biopics we can watch today. In comparison, the catalog of Indonesian historical movies is relatively pale, with Azhar Kinoi Lubis’ Surat Cinta Untuk Kartini (The Postman and Kartini, 2016) the most recent example. The film tweaks the life story of the national heroine to involve a romantic affair with the mailman. “As...