If you see a squadron of Stormtroopers marching into Balai Kartini in South Jakarta this weekend, do not be alarmed.
The venue is again playing host to the annual HelloFest animation and pop-culture festival, now in its eighth edition.
HelloFest8 Anima Expo promises to be a jam-packed day of cult delights, from cosplay performances to short-film screenings, lightsaber battles and a bazaar hawking toys and collectibles.
Organizers from Jakarta’s HelloMotion Academy say the film school event is growing every year as more young Jakartans drop their inhibitions and get their geek on.
What initially started as a platform for animation and design students at the South Jakarta academy to showcase their work has grown into a nationwide celebration of digital arts and pop culture.
“Anima” stands for “animasi” (“animation”), the focus of the HelloMotion Academy and the original basis for HelloFest. But with Jakarta’s creative minds at work, it has come to mean much more. The festival has inspired lovers of animation, special effects, toy-making and costume design, and die-hard fans of just about everything, to come together and celebrate the world of imagination.
The highlight of the event, a short-film festival screened in Balai Kartini’s large-scale cinema, received more than 300 entries this year from across Indonesia, and even from students abroad. About 133 of the final-round films will be shown on plasma-screen TVs at the venue throughout the day, while the best 23 films will be screened at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the main theater. And organizers certainly expect to fill the seats — Academy founder Wahyu Aditya estimates crowds of 10,000 by the day’s end.
“It seems to get bigger every year,” Wahyu said, adding that the secret to HelloFest’s success lies in its broad appeal. “It’s about everything from animation to design to dressing up — anything imaginative, basically.”
Active fan communities across the capital have been preparing for the event for months.
Jakarta’s cosplay (costume play) community in particular is expected to step out in force for the event. Wahyu said that more than 1,100 cosplayers had registered for the event online.
The subculture of cosplay basically involves dressing up as a favorite manga, anime or cartoon character and performing in character on stage. The costumes can be anything from futuristic robots to buxom Japanese schoolgirls or fantasy creatures from outer space. A panel of judges will declare the best costumes and performances of the day.
There will also be an appearance at HelloFest by Order 66, Jakarta’s biggest “Star Wars” fan club, whose members appeared in full Stormtrooper regalia on Jalan Jenderal Sudirman in Central Jakarta last weekend to promote the event. This Saturday, the fan club is splitting into two teams: One team in costumes representing all things “Star Wars” (including a member dressed as creator George Lucas himself) and the other team suiting up for a lightsaber battle of intergalactic proportions.
The toys and collectibles bazaar will host stalls from every corner of the fan universe, from “Transformers” robots to “Dragonball Z” characters and the bloodthirsty heartthrobs of “Twilight.” At least 200 fan bases have signed up for spots to show off their favorite collectibles or to sell fan merchandise and memorabilia.
Locally designed toys, figurines and other creations will also be on sale, including ironic and nationalistic T-shirts from the ever-popular Kementerian Desain Republik Indonesia (Design Ministry of the Republic of Indonesia). KDRI’s designs are inspired by everything from traditional batik patterns to iconic modern sights like the National Monument (Monas) and everyday Jakarta street slang.
To encourage the creative talent in attendance, HelloFest, in collaboration with the British Council, has invited pop culture specialist Fred Deakin to present a seminar at the festival. Deakin is an electronic musician, designer and cofounder of the British-based creative agency Airside Studio.
At 9 p.m., he will be giving a presentation on pop cultures from around the world. After the festival, Deakin will tour with Wahyu to universities in Central and East Java to give creative seminars for young animators hoping to give their work international appeal.
As a successful animator and entrepreneur in both Indonesia and abroad, Wahyu hopes to inspire local students and artists to share their creative ideas with the world. The first step, he suggests, is simply to come along and say “hello.”
HelloFest8 Anima Expo
Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto No. 37