Blind Girl’s Battle Conveys a Message
Disability and poverty are in focus in “Tania,” a film set to hit Indonesian screens early next year. Wrapping up production in July after three weeks of filming in Solo and Pacitan in Central Java, the cast and crew of “Tania” gathered in Jakarta last Wednesday for a news conference at which they discussed the motivations for their involvement in the project.
The movie follows Tania (portrayed by 19-year-old newcomer Dianeersky), a young woman who has been blind since birth. Her boyfriend, Tara (played by Ferly Putra, also new to the big screen), encourages her to chase her dreams despite her physical disability. But more than anything, Tania dreams of the gift of sight. Her eyesight could return with eye surgery, a procedure that Tania’s working mother (played by Ike Muti) cannot afford.
She decides to pair Tania with Genta (Afdhal Yusman), a young and wealthy man who has the means to solve Tania’s problem instantly. Tania, uncomfortable with the choice she must make, reflects on whether she is willing to compromise on love in order to save her sight.
Director Agung NS Nanda , 27, said he knew that telling the story of a disabled person was always going to be difficult, especially for a directorial debut.
An art director in feature-length movies since 2008, Agung worked on the 2010 films “Jinx” and “Melodi” (“Melody”) and in 2011 worked on “Surat Kecil Untuk Tuhan” (“Small Letter for God”) But most of his work has been directing music clips.
Agung directed “Tania” and also co-authored the script with fellow writer Novi. As an art director, Agung said he was used to being at the right hand of a director, yet he went into filming knowing exactly what kind of shots would serve the story.
“I wanted to know what they feel, and find out whether or not I could translate it into a movie. I have this certain sense or feeling that I wanted to portray and share with the audience,” he said.
Agung’s background as a music clip director partly explains why music plays a key role in “Tania.” While Tania is not a musician, she finds comfort in her violin, which symbolically connects her with the father she lost as a child. The soundtrack to the film and music score to “Tania” is by Eross Chandra, a guitarist from alternative rock band Sheila on 7.
Dianeersky (Diane) is a fan of 19th century Polish composer Frederic Chopin, but said she cannot play the violin in real life. But she has played classical piano since the age of 5.
“They loosened up the strings to mute the violin,” she said. “But even so, there’s a specific way to hold the violin and it took me a while to get used to it.”
Before landing the lead role in “Tania,” Diane was a teen model. Currently studying dentistry at university, she is very passionate about acting.
“The way I portrayed Tania in this film is for people to respect the blind and not just pity them,” she said. “Tania is a tough girl who wants to do things on her own.”
To get a better understanding of Tania’s world, Diane trained her sensitivity by doing things with her eyes closed. She also went to a special school for disabled people while researching the role. Before and during filming, Diane said she decided to pay attention to people’s movements and react to them.
“If you close your eyes when doing normal activities, you’ll realize that your sense of hearing becomes a lot more acute,” she said.
She says the role has affected her own senses and perception of the world.
“I try to feel people’s gesture and react to their tone, it’s not about their faces anymore,” Diane said.
“Tania” is scheduled for release in February 2014.