Indonesian Film Makes It to the Festival Circuit
Making a film can be just like creating art — a process requiring craftsmanship as well as time.
Indonesian filmmaker Yosep Anggi Noen knows this. He has been writing various scripts for feature films since 2008.
One of the biggest factors slowing him down was financing, a common problem among local filmmakers.
In the end, Yosep chose a script that fit easily within his budget and skills as a director. His feature film debut, “Vakansi Yang Janggal dan Penyakit Lainnya,” (“Peculiar Vacation & Other Illnesses”) is ready to be shown in at least nine film festivals this year.
Yosep’s film festival season kicked off at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland in September, where “Vakansi” was the only entry from Southeast Asia. This month, Yosep’s film will be shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival, which is the biggest exhibition for films from the Asia Pacific. Yosep will compete with seven other films from Japan, China and South Korea for the “Dragon and Tigers Award” for young cinema. This award aims to recognize young, talented film directors who have not yet received international recognition.
The film “Vakansi” is a story about cheating. Ning (Christy Mahanani) struggles to find a deeper meaning in her marriage with Jarot (Joned Suryatmoko). Jarot is unemployed and feels like he has been a failure to his wife. He is a quiet, introverted person, and Ning finds it difficult to communicate with her husband. Along the way, Ning meets Mur (Muhammad Abe Baasyin), a driver from her new workplace, and decides that she wants to get romantically involved with him.
The lack of blatant emotions in the film portrays the typical, suppressed feelings in the Javanese culture. The dialogue in “Vakansi” is mostly delivered in Javanese. Yosep, who originally comes from Yogyakarta, says he wanted to portray the lives of people in his city.
“This is a special film for me, because it is so simple that sometimes it seems incapable of delivering poetic dialogues,” he said. “You can hear it from my Javanese accent. [When someone with an accent like this] tries to speak in a poetic way, it will probably sound ridiculous in people’s ears.”
Film programmer John Badalu praised “Vakansi” for its original script and its unique story-telling technique.
“There is no special formula for a film to be able to attract a festival programmer,” he said. “For me, ‘Vakansi’ is more art house than commercial and really reflects Anggi’s idealism in crafting his work.”
In a sea of horror and religious films, “Vakansi” represents something fresh, though it may prove difficult to grasp for casual viewers.
John is excited international festivals are screening Indonesian films. On Friday, he will bring six Indonesian films to the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, including “Postcards from the Zoo,” “Modus Anomali,” “Hello Goodbye” and “Sang Penari.”