Rushed New Movie on Obama’s Jakarta Boyhood Set to Ignite Religious Debate

By webadmin on 12:45 am May 12, 2010
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Ulma Haryanto

In a move sure to provoke controversy among right-wing groups in the United States, production is set to begin on a new Indonesian movie about Barack Obama’s childhood in Jakarta.

The movie is expected to include scenes of the future US president prostrating to God in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, as well as reciting from the Koran.

The film is based on the novel “Obama Anak Menteng” (“Obama the Menteng Kid”), which author Damien Dematra claims to be a true account of “Barry’s” childhood in the Jakarta suburb.

The novel was reportedly written in five days after Damien spent five days interviewing 30 people.

He said he had proof that Obama prayed in the manner of a Muslim and recited the Koran.

Obama, a Christian, was forced to repeatedly deny claims during his ultimately successful presidential election campaign that he had Islamic roots and was educated in a Muslim madrassa.

His African father and Indonesian stepfather were Muslim, though he attended secular and Catholic schools in Jakarta.

Obama spent three years in Jakarta in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The president, who remains deeply popular in Indonesia in stark contrast to his predecessor, George W Bush, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in part for his efforts to reach out to the Muslim world.

Damien told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that shooting on the Multivision Plus Pictures film would start this week and the movie would be in cinemas on June 17.

Multivision is known mainly for its television soap operas.

“Tomorrow we’re going to finalize the movie script, including whether we’ll show Obama praying or reciting from the Koran,” Damien said.

He said he had written the screenplay and would co-direct with John DeRantau.

“The filming will take two weeks,” Damien said. “We’ve already cast an American-born child actor as little Barack Obama,” he said. “We’ve also cast actors and actresses from Belgium, Italy and other countries because Obama grew up in a multicultural environment.

“The movie is an account of the people around him, friends, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates.”

Filming will take place in Cimahi, West Java, because “it looks like Menteng Dalam.” “We’ll shoot a few scenes in Jakarta, but not too many,” he added.

He said the movie would run for 100 minutes and be promoted at international film festivals.

“So we’ll have English subtitles,” Damien said, adding he hoped to “rekindle the spirit of pluralism and the power of dreams” through the movie.

“Obama is an icon of pluralism who proved to the world that although he was different, and from the minority, he could aim for the top and beat the majority.”