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Jakarta Post

Nia Dinata: Standing up for the LBGT community

  • A. Kurniawan Ulung

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, May 10, 2015   /  07:03 am
Nia Dinata: Standing up for the LBGT community

Kapanlagi.com

Acclaimed director and producer Nia Dinata takes pride in the films she'€™s made '€” especially those that tell the stories of regular people who just happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

'€œI am really close to LGBT people. I often become the place where they curhat,'€ Nia said, referring to a word meaning to pour your heart out to someone.

According to Nia, people don'€™t know about the stories of members of the LBGT community since the mainstream media tends not to be very interested in the subject '€” which is why she has not flinched in making movies with LBGT characters.

For example, Nia produced Madame X, the transgender superhero comedy starring Aming.

She'€™s also focused on LBGT issues in her own films as a director, such as the box-office hit Arisan! (The Gathering) as well as the award-winning Berbagi Suami (English title: Love for Share), which both feature gay romances.

Nia said that she grew up with two gay relatives who were accepted by her late grandmother, Rohani Yunir, who treated them like any other family member.

About 40 percent of the staff at Nia'€™s Kalyana Shira Foundation are members of the LBGT community, she says. The non-profit foundation, created in 2006, fights for women, children and marginalized people.

Meanwhile, another program of Nia'€™s, Project Change, launched in 2008 and funded in part by the Ford Foundation, trains young people to make short films or documentaries about gender equality, teaching them filmmaking skills and increasing people'€™s awareness.

Nia said that the latest Project Change, which ran
from December 2013 to April 2014, yielded one narrative film, Monica Teda'€™s Sleep Tight Maria, and
four documentaries: Ima Puspita Sari'€™s Nyalon (Salon), Asrida Elisabeth'€™s Tanah Mama (Mother'€™s Soil), Yatna Pelangi'€™s Pertanyaan untuk Bapak (Question for Father) and Anggun Pradesha'€™s Emak dari Jambi (Mother
from Jambi).

The films offer frank exploration of topics considered taboo in Indonesia.

In Pertanyaan untuk Bapak, for example, a man confesses that he'€™s gay '€” and tries to find his father, who raped him as a child. Meanwhile, in Emak dari Jambi the bare buttocks of its main character, a transgendered person, are shown many times '€” including when she asks a friend to inject silicon to her posterior.

The films won'€™t be submitted to the Film Censorship Board (LSF), as they were not made for commercial purposes, Nia says, planning to screen the films at festivals and universities and to LGBT groups.

'€œIf I bring these films to the LSF, they will censor all the content. There would be nothing left,'€ she said, laughing.

Nia said that she often received hate emails and text messages.

'€œThey ask where are my morals and the like. However, I am not afraid of them. They were just bluffing. There was no action.'€

Up next for Nia is making a feature-length version of her transgendered-themed short film Kebaya Pengantin (Wedding Gown) and telling more stories from the margins of Indonesian society.

'€œThat'€™s the challenge facing us,'€ she says. '€œWe will not give up because there are many stories about LGBT we have yet to share.'€
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For more information, visit kalyanashirafound.org

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