The Jakarta Post
Those who love classic Indonesian B-movies are in for a treat: The Kineforum is presenting two weekends of screenings and discussions about some of the most sensational films ever made in the archipelago.
While the event kicked off on Friday with Segitiga Emas (Stabilizer), Leak (Mystics in Bali) and Pembalasan Ratu Laut Selatan (Lady Terminator), those who missed the classic exploitation films can catch additional screenings next weekend.
The Kineforum will hold more screenings and a discussion about the genre on Saturday with film critic Ekky Imanjaya, who curated the series.
Ekky said that the event was aimed at educating people on the importance of exploitation movies for society and their surprising fan base around the world.
'I accidentally stumbled on this type of movie when I was doing research in the Netherlands in 2007,' Ekky said. 'I found out that these movies actually had a significant niche market abroad. These Indonesian B-movies, which are often overlooked, have actually become cult and managed to gain significant followers and fans abroad.'
Ekky said that Indonesian B-movie market was particularly significant in Western Europe and in North America.
Some DVD stores in New York had dedicated sections for Indonesian exploitation films, due to their status as cult films ' mixing genres in surprising way, such as in Lady Terminator, which blends action movies, police procedurals and sexy horror ('First she mates, then she terminates' according to the English-language poster.)
All of the movies to be screened at the Kineforum were produced during the New Order ' which may be why the films have not been recognized locally, despite their warm reception overseas, according to Ekky.
'These movies, which often contain fantasies and massive exploitation of violence and sexuality, were not considered by the New Order regime as a work that represented Indonesia,' Ekky said. 'Despite this lack of acknowledgement from the government, the movies were a massive hit at film festivals ' including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.'
'Foreigners who enjoy these movies call this genre 'crazy Indonesia',' Ekky said.
For example, B-movie fans overseas idolize Indonesian B-movie directors such as Arizal, who died at 71 on May 18.
Arizal, who directed everything from warkop comedies to sinetron, was famous for outrageous action sequences in films such as Lethal Hunter and Stabilizer. 'If no stuntman ever died making one of his movies,' said one fan online, 'it wasn't for a lack of trying.'
Mondo Macabro, a UK-based DVD distributor specializing in cult movies, has repackaged many of the New Order genre pictures, restoring prints and providing fans with rare extras on DVDs, such as behind-the-scenes documentaries on designing monsters or an interview with action icon Barry Prima (best known for his role in Jaka Sembung, which is also screening at Kineforum).
Ekky said that foreigners were bemused and in awe whenever they watched Indonesian B-movies. 'They were particularly in awe with Jaka Sembung, who they identified as a super hero. They had never seen a character who could grow his arm back after it was cut off in any other movie before.'
Another iconic scene was featured in Leak, said Ekky.
'The main female character, who is a foreigner, is learning the Bali mystical black magic called 'leak'. In one scene, the woman's head is leaving her body through her neck and audience can see clearly her intestines,' Ekky said. 'Her head then flies around to find newborn babies to eat.'
Low budgets and cheesy special effects also add to the charm. 'You can clearly see that the special effects are so katrok [ugly] ' but this is why the movies are so loved by the audience,' Ekky says. 'People who are watching this movie do expect to see this kind of katrok special effects and to laugh as a mean of entertainment.'
Ekky said he wants local critics to be inspired by the Kineforum screenings to think about the films' relationship with the audience ' as well as how B-movies should be considered within the national film industry.
'Most Indonesian movie critics only focus on the textbook, intrinsic and coherent qualities of movies in their critical reviews. They rarely analyze the relationship between the movies and the fans or the audience,' Ekky said.
'They often forget that watching movies is sometimes about excitement and enjoyment. B-movies are produced for those who want to get excited and to just enjoy a movie without having to think too much about plots. They want to see fights and gore. B-movies provide this using their own katrok way.'
Rethinking the Exploitation Films of the New Order will run at the Kineforum at TIM in Cikini, South Jakarta on June 13 to 15 and June 20 to 22. Screenings are free. For more information, visit kineforum.org.
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