How do the experience and professional background of the judges play a part in the process of selecting films in the Short Documentary competition?
Puiyee Leong: My background is more on film programming. After watching the 8 films, I appreciate how the selection committee has selected a diverse range of films that covers a wide range of topics starting from farming industries to LGBTQ community. For me, it’s a joy to learn and discover new social issues that are happening in Indonesia.
Woto Wibowo: I’m working as Visual artists and music producer, not in the film world but I like watching films. It is good to see the selection, though I expected to see some new things in the Short Film Competitions. My concern is also there’s only one female director that is chosen from the film
Vivian Idris: I am in the Badan Perfilman Indonesia (Indonesia’s Film Board), my first experience in the film ecosystem was in the film festival. For this short documentary competition the choice covers quite a wide-range of issues from LGBTQ to film representing different areas in Indonesia, some legends and local customs. I want to underline the lack of women directors that are selected in the competition, but then in general there are new trends in storytelling. Poetic styles are mostly used in documentaries, we have seen different trends over the past three years, after the pandemic this kind of style emerged.
Mas Woto, you have said that you haven’t found anything new inside the short film competition. Do you have any suggestions on how to bring a sense of ‘newness’ inside the short film competition?
Woto Wibowo: Well, there is one unique movie in the Indonesia documentary film called Hometown that used animation in its documentary film, but the rest is not really intriguing. I think it is important for filmmakers to see and focus not only on the story and topic, but we already have very interesting topics. Filmmakers should explore their imagination on how to see things in a different way, visually and the way to approach and strategize. Learning more arts is important, since I am a visual artist that is active in contemporary arts, I think it is important for filmmakers to embrace their interests in contemporary arts as it can trigger their creativity.
Sound-making is very important to explore, there are lots of things to explore in terms of sound-making, not only to make it clear and in good quality, but the way to use music and sounds. In Indonesia, we have very rich sounds that surround us, especially in documentaries. The practice of field recording or soundscape is important for filmmakers to work together with ethnomusicologists, sound artists, or composers.
How to determine the parameters of a winning film in the Short Documentary competition?
Vivian Idris: The parameters are given by the committee, usually it’s pretty standard in judging a film festival because there is the aspect of storytelling and issue. It is quite standard, but then we ask the committee and programmer since each festival is looking for something specific that represents their festival like what the festival wants to say and what they stand for. For instance, how FFD is probably looking for the way to push an issue that is important and current that has a social relation and it is an important cause to support in Indonesia. There are a lot of things.
Woto Wibowo: From the start, we started just like a bunch of film lovers talking about films after watching movies, like “what’s your favorite”, it’s simply like that.
Vivian Idris: Also, which one you like, what you think about that and this. But in general, we don’t have much difficulty in deciding what we like about the film. This is because the three of us, we have the same interest and vision of what we should support.
Puiyee Leong: I agree with what Vivian said. For the three of us, I think that the points of view and the issues each of the documentaries are covering. We don’t just cover the storytelling style and form, we’ve talked about how in our judging process how films in some form we’ve seen it and had been done many times. But some, in wilder form it’s nothing new, but the emotional effect that the film evokes because it is so strong we feel for the film, so at the end of the day, we are also looking at the intention of the filmmaker, their voice, the sincerity. The film should speak for itself. For film, I usually don’t like to read the synopsis because films should speak for themselves. It’s great how the three of us more or less agree on the topics and issues inside the film.
Vivian Idris: Film tells the story itself without explanation. It proves that it can do its job as a film without the help of synopsis.
Could you elaborate descriptively on how do the judges rate and mark the films inside the Short Documentary competition?
Vivian Idris: There are no marks in how we make our choice, it’s more into discussion and looking at what is important in terms of issue and what does the festival want to support, including what is relevant for Indonesia right now. The winning film is the face of the film festival, so it’s not only about aesthetic and nice pictures. Films are actually a tool to show and support many things. Descriptively, we as a judge offer our two top choices for the short documentary, but actually our pick is not very different from each other, then we discuss.
Puiyee Leong: I think it is better to talk about it, rather than give a score or point, it’s more effective also.
How to determine the saliency of the issue that you are picking as the face of the film festival?
Vivian Idris: The way to determine is technically through discussion and asking the festival organizer what the aim is, because every film festival has different things that they are looking for. But importantly, we choose what is essential for us. For instance, the representation of women in everything including arts.
Woto Wibowo: You have to challenge the film scene as a whole
Vivian Idris: Yes, to challenge the film scene and to deconstruct the social structure because film is also used for that.
How does the winning film represent this year’s conception of FFD?
Puiyee Leong: I think that by choosing this as the winning film, it would shed an importance towards the issue that the film is covering. This choice might be controversial, but it is an important topic to talk about and should not be shy-ed away from.
Woto Wibowo: Maybe some people expect that films that discuss hard topics such as the LGBTQ would be the winner as the best film, but the one that we choose as a winner is not only because of its plot. We choose the winning film as the winner because of its gaze that the filmmaker wants to address, that is a female point-of-view. This is very important.
Puiyee Leong: It would be great to see more female film documentary directors in Indonesia. The reason we choose this film is to encourage more female documentary filmmaker to be more bold.
Woto Wibowo: At first, I saw the film as nothing special, because I saw the movie from a male gaze. Then Vivian gives me an insight from her point of view as a female that makes me understand. Afterwards, I could see very clearly how the movie has an aspect of ‘difference’.
Please provide a jury statement upon the winning film.
Vivian Idris: This year’s FFD selected eight films as the finalists. Each film offers a wide-range of topics and different aspects of life.
Puiyee Leong: The winning film not only articulates clearly about the turmoil and critical issues that the LGBTQ+ community is facing in Indonesia, but it evokes a strong, sensitive and emotional effects of the subjects
Woto Wibowo: It highlights the discrimination facing marginalized community through a soft feminine gaze.
Timoteus Anggawan Kusno (Angga) finally managed to arrive at the Secretariat of the Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) after struggling with the heavy rain along the way. Wrapped in a parachute jacket, he entered and began greeting the FFD crews one by one with a smile on his face. Angga is one of the collaborating artists for this year’s FFD. He contributes to create a bumper video that will be shown at the beginning of the film program that is screened. Angga is also a prolific artist in creating and exhibiting, both in local spaces and on the international stage. Recently, he was invited by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, to collaborate in an exhibition entitled “Revolusi!”. We had the opportunity to interview Angga amidst his busy schedule. Here are the results of our casual chat.
THE BEGINNING OF INTEREST IN THE WORLD OF ART
It is still clear how fragments of the past opened the door to Angga’s interest in the world of art, especially photography. His grandfather was the owner of Afterphoto store. Meanwhile, his father, who was a teacher, used his spare time to open a film developing business in Bengkulu. For Angga, the memory of how the photos were processed is magical, powerful, and memorable. It was also his first contact with the world of art—through photography.
Angga got his first camera from his father and grandfather while he was in high school. Armed with a camera and curiosity, Angga began to conduct experiments and explorations in photography. He joined the photography club at his school, De Britto Photography Club, where they hold an exhibition annually. The exhibition experience was very memorable for Angga. Those moments embarked his interest in the world of art and photography.
The passion for exploration led Angga to go further, opening up experimental spaces in various other lines in the field of art. From photography, he tried videography, then graffiti. His career began in 2007. At that time, the Festival Kebudayaan Yogyakarta (FKY) started an open call. Angga was still in his second semester back then when he decided to make a proposal and submit his work. In a tit-for-tat, his work passed the curation process. “It turned out that the reaction to my work was quite positive, so from there, I was excited to try to continue exploring.” The doors of opportunity began to widen. In the same year, Angga received an invitation to be involved in the Biennale Jogja exhibition. After that moment, he never stopped exploring and venturing into various fields of art.
For Angga, his exploration process in this field can be analogized to a journey. Along the way, many questions were disturbing and challenging to unravel. “What if I process this into an artistic experience, in the form of an artwork? Whether it’s video, installation, or writing?”. Many of Angga’s artistic discoveries, which later became answers to these troubling questions, came from reading, talking with people, and watching films. For him, the process of creating works is a process of how to feel the reality happening around him. “It is the attempt to understand reality, which is then conveyed through works,” he said.
AN ENTHUSIASM FOR RETELLING HISTORICAL MEMORY
History seems to be the only way to understand and investigate the truth that existed in the past. Angga finds that history is narrated individually and simultaneously intertwined with the structure of fiction creation in terms of narratology. “Why is the date that gets the highlight this one, not others. Why is the event shown this one, not others? The processes of selecting and sewing are interesting to dismantle.”
How history is narrated, being talked about, and becoming a guide to comprehend the past is something essential for Angga. In addition, his life journey drove him to experience the dictatorship of the New Order regime and the transition to the reformation period. It made him reflect and observe how power works and use “history” as an heirloom. Angga observed that during the Soeharto era, the historical material he received tended to be closed and tight. From there, he had the desire to be able to reflect on how history works towards power through his art projects. “It’s all about personal experiences in reading history.“
JOURNEY OF BODY EXPERIENCE
In the process of making an installation for one of his relatively recent exhibitions, Luka dan Bisa Kubawa Berlari (2022), Angga has been traveling around for two years to be able to collect and complete the soul of his exhibition. Only riding a motorbike, he recorded voices from various places that kept memories of the resistance and struggle for independence. These sounds were recorded, stored, and transformed into an aural experience that visitors can feel in the exhibition space. We wondered what Angga got from the “traveling” method. “There has to be a body experience to be there, to stimulate the imagination. So, (we know) what the smell is, how it sounds, and so on.“
Every journey has always been influential in the process of creating Angga’s works because there must be certain impressions that help build the direction and feeling that he wants to present in his work. Traveling is his method of processing the feeling.
HISTORY, LITERATURE, AND PSEUDO-INDEPENDENCE
Angga admitted that he had much to do with literature during his creative process. Memoar Tanah Runcuk (2014) is one of Angga’s exhibitions published as
artistic response to the reading of Max Havelaar. He felt he was invited to experience past events, but in a way that, he said, was very humane. For Angga, historical novels can present the past, with its various complexities, in a transparent manner. History and literature are always intertwined. It was as if he was invited to ride a time machine and was thrown into specific periods to feel that time’s atmosphere, pressure, and tragedies.
For Angga, history should present itself as something that holds many questions and tensions. There must be a unique and disturbing experience shown. These experiences will ignite the power of imagination, which becomes ammunition for creating Angga’s works. “What if this is reflected back into a medium? Something that can invite people to go back in time.”
Angga’s works, some of which can be explored on takusno.com page, are full of revolutionary spirit. We asked Angga, at this time, where are we? What is our position? Are we really free from colonialism?
Angga argued that colonialism as a historical period has been placed in the past. We also had declared independence long ago. However, there are problems that we are not aware of. The problem is the matrices of power and colonialism mindset that unconsciously continues to regenerate to this day. For Angga, it demands to be described. Some power structures managed to survive the collapse of colonialism and still survive to this day.
“When we have the right to determine our own destiny. Freedom of thought. Responsible for our thoughts and actions. Let go of dependency—which is actually still in process.”
FFD AND MODE OF WORKS
FFD is an important event that can offer a new way of seeing reality. Angga revealed the concept is similar to what he has done. “We need a lot of lenses, perspectives, to see our experiences and the experiences of our fellow man living in other places. How that life experience can be presented through documentaries. This is surely necessary.“
Angga works a lot to explore the structure of fiction creation. From there, he sees how authorship works are presented. This idea was taken in producing a video bumper for this year’s FFD. Within a minute, Angga delivers a “mystery” experience through walking footsteps. Those steps belong to the people who work behind the scenes in the film process, which are cameramen and others who are working on painting a light masterpiece using their cameras.
“The question is who is framing whom. Who is watching whom? There are interpretations of questions that are presented before the film is screened. Working makes this interpretation an interesting experiment because a camera is working on the film to be watched. Someone is working behind the process, dismantling the layer of reality again; who takes pictures of reality; how that reality is generated.”
FFD AS A BODY
We associated FFD to an installation, then we asked Angga how FFD’s position is in narrating the history and memories recorded in each film that will be screened later? According to Angga, “This (FFD) is an alternative way of looking at reality. FFD is a way to see our position in a moving world; with its problems. The hope is that it can spark solidarity, so we realize we are not alone amid problems in this moving world.”
This year, FFD entered its twenties at the age of 21. These ages are usually associated with maturity and adulthood. Does FFD experience this association? According to Angga, as an event, FFD continues to grow in a world that is also constantly moving. FFD offers an alternative way to see. It is very relevant to see the changes around us, both in the medium of capturing reality and the reality itself.
Written by Hesty N. Tyas | Edited by Vanis
In 2006, after the earthquake in Yogyakarta, Vendy Methodos began his first steps as a street artist by presenting “stalker.” As far as he can remember, he only drew street paintings three times at that time. After a long hiatus, Vendy Methodos came back to his profession or (what he told us) he pursued his hobby which is drawing on the street again in 2011. Then, Methodos was chosen as his new name. Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) 2020 has the opportunity to collaborate with mural artist Vendy Methodos, as a collaborating artist.
“If I can assess subjectively, from my perspective, my work is used to raise awareness not to heal. To raise the awareness that there are something or other symptoms or phenomena that we sometimes don’t realize, but actually that exist and are close to us. “
Vendy Methodos’ involvement in the FFD event made us curious to dig further on how he views this collaboration. For him, documentary films seem unpopular. This case is inseparable from the fact that documentaries have become a non-mainstream genre and are rarely played in cinema buildings. In Vendy Methodos’ opinion, these kinds of films are almost similar to works of visual art: the essence is to look for something invisible which is actually very close to us. Hence, FFD is interesting, because this kind of festival is able to intervene in the community to be aware of the surrounding conditions.
Despite only getting to know FFD in depth in recent months, Vendy Methodos stated that there was a feeling of joy and excitement when he got contacted to collaborate in this event. He thinks that this is a cross-disciplinary collaboration. “My background is visual art and I was invited to collaborate for the film festival. And, it is a new experience in my career,” he said.
Vendy Methodos made some artworks for FFD 2022. The whole artwork presents a visual of the moving subject. When we asked, why was it like that? He explained that the key word and the main idea of this artwork is gymnastics. It is because gymnastics in Indonesia, which is classified as unpopular exercises, the representation of documentary films in the mind of Vendy Methodos is also the same: it exists, but is not visible. However, on the other hand, they still have their own fans.
He hopes that FFD will always exist to work, intervene, and present films that are sometimes often unnoticed by other Filmmakers. Vendy Methodos, surely, also hopes that his work can be widely known, but the other thing that cannot be marginalized is the hope that the message presented in the artworks can be fully delivered where documentary films are like gymnastics: exists but is unpopular. Recognizing that there are filmmakers who work on introducing documentaries to a wide audience.
Written by Cindy Gunawan | Edited by Vanis
Since being held in 2002, the Documentary Film Festival (FFD) was initiated by a group of young people who discussed the condition and urgency of documentaries in Indonesia. As one of the oldest documentary film festivals, FFD has come a long way to be able to survive until now among film festivals in Indonesia and Asia.
This year, the FFD Team had the opportunity to record flashbacks of FFD’s initial journey through the statement of one of the founders of FFD, Nurbertus Nuranto. Nurbertus Nuranto, who is familiarly called Mas Nur, is the manager of the Tembi Rumah Budaya, which is also a witness where the first FFD was held.
FFD was founded in 2002 which was initiated by Mas Nur and his friends. What was the initial concern or idea that led to the establishment of FFD?
In the past, documentaries were always part of the film festival. It never stands alone and is always included in one of the categories in the film festival. Nurbertus Nuranto, Herlambang Yudho, and Ons Untoro’s concern (the people who initiated the FFD) derive from a question: why isn’t there a documentary festival that stands alone and is not a part of a film festival? On the one hand, people still did not understand the difference between documentary and documentation at that time. We want to know how to conceive back then. It’s because the documentary raises a way of thinking. The documentary has its own plot and purpose. The documentary is raised from the existing reality. The point is to take pictures and observe the way people think constructed in the form of films. Because in the past, many famous film directors departed from documentary work. One of them in Indonesia is Garin Nugroho. When making a documentary, maybe if you make a story, you can have many perspectives.
In addition, there is curiosity. At that time, Indonesia had just entered the reformation era; many people began to feel free to express their opinions. What if that opinion or thought is poured into a film, one of which is a documentary? Furthermore, what was known was perhaps only the type of propaganda documentaries or television features back then. From that small talk emerged the idea to hold a documentary festival with the main focus was film competitions.
Is there support from other parties in terms of funding or other forms of support? Why was it finally formed even though there were very few references to film festivals related to documentaries at that time?
Then We, Ons Untoro and I from Tembi Rumah Budaya, and Herlambang who were active at the UGM Student Center specifically the Photography Unit (UFO), started the festival with funding from us (Tembi Rumah Budaya) and volunteers from students. Initially, it can be said that the documentary film festival was a kind of joint activity with Tembi Rumah Budaya with UFO UGM. There is no financial support or other forms of support.
Although there are still few documentary-related film festival references, we run with all limitations. Because documentary festivals are only available overseas, we don’t know much about them. It can be said FFD activities just run like that. All of them have never had any experience of making a festival at all. So we just give it a shot. That is, this FFD is just trial and error. The first time the screening was in Tembi, and not many people came. At that time, I didn’t know where I was going, and the important thing was just to walk first. There used to be screening and judging competitions. But our focus is to see Indonesian documentaries.
Regarding the main program of the competition, how did the story start from the beginning? The mapping of people who produced documentaries was still small, and the potential that emerged had not been cultivated optimally at that time.
By focusing on the competition, we can see the map of the documentary films at that time, especially those in Yogyakarta. So it can be said that the Yogyakarta documentary film festival was happening at that time. However, naming it as the Festival Film Dokumenter, with the expectancy that on its journey everything can be widened. So the initial point of FFD’s journey was in Yogyakarta. And until now, it is in Yogyakarta, although the competition participants can come from everywhere, even from abroad.
The entries who send their films, that’s what being competed. All the time, we also change categories. There used to be a professional category. Then I thought, whether these people know the professional in question is someone who really strives in documentaries for a long time. After all, the number at that time was also not much. The quality is also far from what it is now. In the past, there were even wedding videos that entered the FFD competition. In fact, it’s documentation, not a documentary. The theme was close to everyday life, such as the environment, life, and others.
What were the obstacles faced at that time?
There are a lot of problems. There are survival difficulties, organizational difficulties as well. I used to think about holding the festival no more than twice because then the next person wouldn’t be able to learn anything new.
The main obstacle is organizing it as a festival because none of us have ever experienced organizing festivals. Meanwhile, it was entirely a volunteer model for UGM Photography Unit students who organized many activities on campus at that time. It can be said that this FFD was originally a student festival.
So, no one has experience making festivals. In other words, from me, learn from scratch. The finance source is only from Tembi. I haven’t thought of a way to find funding sources at that time.
Why did it end up holding on?
We ultimately learn from experience. There were many volunteers from the students involved who organized at that time. I also learn from them and other festivals. For example, if someone is invited to go abroad, we will see how it is organized elsewhere. Everything is learning by doing. It means that why this must still exist is a joint decision. Is this (FFD) relevant or not? Until finally able to initiate another documentary film festival, in the end, it also made many people interested in making documentary films. It’s about consistency. I also want to challenge myself. Who will continue this? And it turned out that there were Mbak Heni (Dwi Sujanti Nugraheni; Documentary Filmmaker & Screenwriter) and Mita (Mita Hapsari) who continued. Now even the people have changed again. If there is no consistency, it’s troublesome.
How is the development that Mas Nur sees from FFD? What needs to be appreciated and needs to be improved?
I see this as an extraordinary journey because those who are involved there have passion. If you don’t have a passion, you certainly can’t have a concern for documentary films. From the festival, you can watch a lot of films from anywhere. It’s a place to learn. We also learn to organize a festival. They have improved a lot from time to time. It’s different from before.
Over the past twenty years, FFD has evolved through a long process. FFD is the outcome of a long and consistent process to stay straight to its goal of introducing documentary films to the wider public. I appreciate this long process as a place to learn and grow through the development of networks, along with the development of the documentary film world itself.
However, whatever the shortage is, it’s a common thing on a journey. FFD learned a lot from those shortcomings. In terms of organization, I also appreciate it because FFD is organized by people who are very active in the film industry, especially in the documentary film sector. FFD has grown to become a network estuary for many filmmakers both from within and outside the country. In other words, I really appreciate what FFD has achieved, in this case, the Documentary Film Forum.
I appreciate the development of FFD has really become a place for young people to learn to organize a festival, as a great place to socialize with film people. From there we can learn a lot. The further our journey goes, it starts to get neater and structured. So, it’s actually a long journey. From not knowing anything to being even better. From not being able to do it until being able to do it.
Over the years, FFD has always presented specific topics according to current conditions and problems. How does Mas Nur see about the change?
Concerning the change, I see that change is a necessity. It means that with changes in topics and others, FFD stays alive and progresses according to developments happening around us.
That means we are not stuck. We always follow and never stop. FFD, for me, is like that: dynamic, growing, and involves a lot of young people who eventually become involved in the film industry. When the film is shown, they learn a lot from there and practice right away.
How does Mas Nur perceive the current FFD?
Once again, I am happy with the development of the current FFD, although there may still be many shortcomings here and there. FFD is a network center that has an international network. And perhaps, now it has become a barometer for documentary festivals that have finally appeared everywhere.
FFD eventually grew more popularly known as the “ruang bertemu”. Based on internal research data in 2019, quite a lot of people come to FFD not to watch films but to hang out and network. What is Mas Nur’s opinion about that?
Of course, I am appreciative, happy, and grateful. Thanks to the consistency of its journey, FFD can become ruang bertemu (meeting room), and finally, whoever there feels like home. It’s like from a small point can grow and develop as a big circle.
I see what is important is consistency. Then adaptive to any conditions. This online screening is also due to circumstances. But as a community, FFD is still moving. I hope that it will continue because those who carry it out are also concerned about the problems in the documentary.
What does consistency mean?
Consistent with the development of the film world, towards those who are engaged in the documentary world. Because actually, FFD is the business of many people. I have not participated in organizing since 2014 or 2015. The audience is now different. The range is wider.
Finally, what is Mas Nur’s expectation for FFD?
I hope that FFD will consistently carry out its vision and mission. Stay adaptive to the existing situation and conditions so that it becomes better than the past. It adapts by being up to date but still maintains the vision and mission as the spirit.
It was November 26, 2021. One of the FFD’s writers in Yogyakarta was granted a good chance to e-meet Jewel Maranan in the Philippines. Engaging with someone ±2,620 kilometers away has never been easier, but thanks to today’s sophisticated technology for making it possible.
Jewel Maranan is a documentary filmmaker, producer, and cinematographer whose creative documentaries look at how history weaves its way into everyday life. Tondo, Beloved (Philippines, 2011), In the Claws of a Century Wanting (Philippines, 2017), The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil (Vietnam, Philippines, 2018), and The Silhouettes (Iran, Philippines, 2020) are a few of her directing and producing works that have been screened and awarded in film festivals and art events across Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. This year, Jewel is appointed as one of the jury for the FFD’s Short Documentary Competition and she expressed her insightful thoughts on the development and growth of documentaries in the Philippines and Indonesia through an online interview.
During the 20 years that FFD has been held, Jewel has participated four times. The first time she took part in FFD was in 2012. It was when she screened her film, Tondo, Beloved (2011), with fellow Southeast Asian filmmakers who had also attended the Doc.Net Southeast Asia Festival in Jakarta. They then went to Yogyakarta to take part in the FFD. Jewel confessed that she felt very comfortable attending FFD at the time. “Everyone was incredibly kind, warm, and welcome. It seemed like a great community of artists or film lovers,” Jewel stated.
Then, the next time that she was able to participate in FFD was around 2018. That’s when her film, In the Claws of a Century Wanting (2018), was part of the international competition for feature-length documentaries. Jewel wasn’t able to attend FFD that time, but she was really glad to hear the news that her film is one of the best feature-length documentaries. The following year, she submitted a film that she co-produced with a Vietnamese director, Pham Thu Hang. The film is called The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil (2018). They submitted it for the International Feature-length Documentary competition and again, it won the awards. Both Jewel and the director were very happy. A couple of months later, Jewel said that she received a package from FFD with a bag and the trophies and some like memorabilia from FFD. That was something she cherished.
Time keeps rolling and rolling. After several times submitting her works, Jewel is participating as a member of the jury for the Short Documentary Competition this year. This experience leads her to the thought that FFD has evolved a lot since 2012, the time when Jewel first participated. Many aspects of the event had also been professionalized, and Jewel conceded that the festival was able to adapt to the difficult shifts that occurred when the pandemic began.
FFD, according to Jewel, has developed a lot from a group of dedicated individuals who just kept going. FFD became one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent documentary film festivals, which she is delighted to witness and continue to be involved in.
“FFD still seems like a very close-knit group where there’s honest discussion, where people make friends with one another, and apart from featuring or making really great documentary selections,” she explains.
Jewel was asked to shares her thought on the documentary film ecosystems in the Philippines and Indonesia by the interviewer. Jewel admits that she has witnessed a lot of changes in Philippine documentaries since she began making documentaries in 2010. It has also become increasingly globalized. It has developed into film projects looking for partners throughout Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as Europe and America. Jewel believes that the Philippine documentary industry has positioned itself to follow the path that the international documentary industry is pursuing while yet maintaining its own identity.
In the case of the Indonesian documentary, Jewel clarified that this is only a personal observation, not so much an expert opinion. Jewel began to meet Indonesian documentary filmmakers in 2012, and her opinion at the time was that she was coming from industries that were growing at similar traditions. Jewel mentioned that one glaring similarity between Indonesia and Philippines documentaries is caused by the way that these countries have similarities in terms of social political situations and economic situations. A lot of socially aware documentaries from these two countries. In the next years or decades, Jewel believes there should be more and more interactions between Southeast Asian countries, particularly between the Philippines and Indonesia, not only in terms of event or festival participation, but also in terms of production collaboration.
Jewel, who participated on the jury for this year’s Short Documentary competition, said that all of the finalist in the competition appear to be socially aware and identify critical themes. The fact of the matter is that they approach things in a variety of ways and styles. Documentaries that investigate hybrid techniques of production, documentaries that are more conventional, and documentaries that are observational are all offered. In general, it’s a mash-up of numerous strategies, all with the same goal in mind: to be relevant to current topics and discourses. It appears to be a great potential for Jewel. The worst thing that can happen in a competition, according to Jewel, is for everyone to have the similar style and form, and she didn’t witness that in this year’s competition; instead, she observed a variety of different styles. And she adores it.
Beside sharing her thoughts about the growth and improvement of documentaries in Indonesia and Philippines, she also shared her experiences towards cross-nation co-producing. It indeed gives us a new insight since in Indonesia, cross-nation co-producing methods are still rare to find, especially in documentaries. According to Jewel, the good thing about co-producing is that filmmakers are able to expand the point of view of the film. Filmmakers are able to expand it and see more international viewpoints, or probably a broader Asian viewpoint. Because when a film director is making a film in their own country, the audience that we think about originates from our own countries, and that’s just how it should be at the very base line. Now, we live in a time when our works can be seen by a broader global audience. The situation poses challenges to storytelling understandability and comprehensibility of the language or aspects of the film. That’s an advantage of having a collaboration or an international collaborator. Also, it adds to the possibility of gaining more resources for the film funding opportunities.
The virtual meeting was brief since the awarding ceremony of FFD was simultaneously going place at the same time. Despite these limits, we were able to find out a lot from Jewel Maranan within around 30 minutes. Hopefully, the endurance and persistence of FFD which amazed Jewel, will continue indefinitely.
Written by Tirza Kanya
Translated by Anggito Cahyo Nugroho
Tonny Trimarsanto is known as a director and documentary workshop facilitator. Ever since he is active in documentary, Tonny who is a graduate from Insititut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) has produced dozens of documentary films. He is the organizer of Rumah Dokumenter (Klaten, Indonesia), one of the most active documentary producer communities in Indonesia.
We got the chance to interview Tonny who was the speaker in the DocTalk program in the Documentary Heritage: Praktik Pencatatan Warisan Budaya dengan Medium Dokumenter session in FFD 2021. In this interview, Tonny explained the efforts that needed to be done to increase the production of students documentary, his responses as the winner of the first FFD, and the future of heritage documentary in Indonesia.
As the winner of the first FFD, what do you think about FFD that has reached its 20 years?
It was very interesting to observe FFD’s journey because I really know how it grows. Since its first, second, third, and the next year, it required a lot of energy. FFD was first held in Tembi, in the southern part of Yogyakarta, I experienced that. Friends with the same energy wanted to make a forum that is able to dialogue the creative achievements in the documentary industry.
In these two decades, I see the achievement of FFD is that it has succeeded in building a fairly strong brand. When we talk about documentaries, we will definitely run to FFD and Jogja. It contains documentary filmmakers with energy, perseverance, patience in a long process to be able to present an important forum in the growth of documentary films. After all, documentary filmmakers do not only produce documentary films, but also have to measure how the work has creative cruising to its audience. This means that FFD has contributed significantly in building and creating a documentary film productivity ecosystem. When I got the award in the first FFD, I was still reading whether the FFD will continue? It turned out to be, and the dream becomes even more extraordinary to this day. FFD already has a brand, already has a fingerprint. Festival fingerprints are very specific and have an important role in the big map of documentary films in Indonesia. The big map of documentaries in Southeast Asia too, even at the Asian level.
You are the founder of the Rumah Dokumenter production & filmmaker community which has grown into a production/production training community that is in great demand by students (SMK/equivalent). As far as your experienced, what ideas are often raised by students in documentary film production?
We’re probably a fairly democratic community, meaningthat we give space for growth. Space for growth means if you want to grow, then let’s go, if not, go ahead. When friends come to Rumah Dokumenter; Be it vocational, high school, college students or the general public who want to study documentary films, we welcome them with pleasure. The only prerequisite was that they had to have their own ideas when they came here. Means that they come up with an idea, then they go home with a film. That’s the concept we developed.
For mapping students or students who are interns here, the readings are on issues that are inherent in their world. We suggest looking for ideas close at hand, not far away. There’s no need for students to talk about grandiose things, big things; quite a simple issue. If we are able to have a different perspective on it, it will be an extraordinary issue.
In recent years, student documentary submissions at FFD have decreased (even despite the pandemic). It also turned out to be experienced by other festivals that have a concern for student film appreciation in Indonesia. How do you see this?
So far, student film production, if I see FFD’s journey, is only in certain parts. This means that when the community movement is not intense, it will certainly result in a decrease in the number of productivity. It’s actually a pattern that has been observed.
The first point is that the number of communities that accompany the production of documentaries may no longer be optimal, I don’t know what the factors are. But from the other side, maybe they have a different focus or students are now more interested in issues that they can pack in short fiction films. Many formal schools do not yet have standard guidelines for documentary film production. Either from the support of the teacher or the curriculum system that has not run optimally, if the output is about productivity.
Looking at the variety of themes from the recent Indonesian student documentaries, do the variations continue to increase?
I think the variation is increasing because the reading levels of students are getting more diverse here. Especially on the issues that develop around it, it becomes important to note. For example, fellow students have made films about politics, the environment, inspiring subjects in their environment; this becomes important in addition to works that are personal.
Readings on issues at the student level are also increasing. That is, the restlessness and desire to grow is presence, it only need efforts for assistance. Now, this mentoring process must be managed continuously.
What efforts can be made to increase the production of student documentaries?
When it comes to strategy, of course it is related to the existing human resources in each school. Not every SMA/SMK has the effort that there must be an audiovisual creation with a certain standard. For example, many SMKs have documentary films, but when they are sent to FFD the qualification standards are not included. Maybe that’s what often happens.
Or on the other hand, teachers don’t have enough concer n about how students’ work can have a wider creative range to the festival. Now there are so many festivals, especially for students at FFD for example. If we talk more specifically, there is also the Yogyakarta Student Film Festival. Therein lies the problem that I often observe, that it is necessary to form the teacher’s perspective on film production. Do not just continue to accompany the students, but the driving factor is also necessary. Not only students who must be brought closer to the way and practice of how to make documentary work, but also the teachers. If the student is told to study but the teacher doesn’t know anything, then it doesn’t work. Not only managing students, but also curriculum design and the efforts of each teacher.
What is the future of Documentary Heritage in Indonesia? Because not all individuals realize the importance of recording cultural heritage?
If I see it, without us needing to talk about whether film A has a heritage element or not, filmmakers have already done that. This means that the events that you have recorded and then noted and conveyed into a story finally reach the eyes of the audience, it is already a heritage. The slices are there and visible, just not that specific. Filmmakers did not make textbook films. In the film, it is not directly stated that this is an object, this is intangible, there is value in it, and so on. Although not specific, the filmmaker has actually spoken about it, but in an even bigger area. There is a problem in a society with its traditions. Now, an effort like this is actually more complete (in describing heritage) actually.
Does the general public need to know the importance of recording cultural heritage? Because indirectly the heritage elements are obtained from the community.
Actually, if we talk about duties, it’s not the community’s job, it’s the state’s job. How the country can systemically protect and manage assets, both in the form of values and objects. So indeed it is the responsibility of the state, but the problem is how to involve the community in the practice area. Of course it takes the long term, it takes socialization to education about what things must be maintained. After all, in fact, documentary filmmakers have assisted in the work of recording cultural heritage through the works they produce without having to get an order from the state.
How is your experience with FFD being held online today?
I see that everything has to be forced into the new system. That the space of appreciation has changed, from what used to be physical is now non-physical, it requires an adaptation process. It may be full of surprises at first when we watch movies online, but of course this is also a lesson for friends who work in this FFD organization system.
On the one hand, you have rich experience in carrying out offline festivals, but in a short time you are forced to learn to manage online festivals. When these two experiences are combined it will be an extraordinary strategy, it turns out that online and offline can be done together. When it’s still offline, it’s a little out of reach. Comparing to the reach of an online festival that can go anywhere. For example, in my class (DocTalk: Documentary Heritage) someone whatsapped me from Maluku and took the class. Its cruising range is getting further, but its warmth is becoming non-existent. That is, every transition process has consequences; something is missing but a new value appears and is found.
Writer: Dinda Agita
John Badalu is a film producer and publicist and the founder of Q-Munity, an organization concerning minority issues, especially LGBTQ+ through art and culture. In 2002, John initiated Q! Film Festival, which he was there as the festival director. Q! Film Festival is a film festival which brings out the conversation about LGBTQ+, HIV/AIDS, and human rights. John, who is really a world of film enthusiast, also a film programmer in various film festivals and co-producer for several short films.
This year, John is invited as the speaker for DocTalk: Pemrograman dalam Festival Film. On November 23, 2021, John shared his perspective about 20 years of FFD, a gem of film programming and online film festival.
How do you see the 20 years of Festival Film Dokumenter? (it can be from the growth, things to improve, or what is already decent)
FFD is one of the oldest film festivals in Indonesia. I think it is an achievement since initiating a new festival is always easier than keeping the one that already exists. Hats off because FFD lives independently but still manages to survive until this day. Back then, there was Q! Film Festival, I initiated in the same year. But Q! Film Festival has stopped since 2016.
In my view, FFD was born from the ideas of very film loving souls, passion driven souls. Even though it does not have much budget, FFD is still held full of spirit. I really respect FFD for managing itself to survive until today. For these 20 years, I’d like to compliment the system and human resource management inside FFD. Surely, the human resource inside it must be different each year for 20 solid years, and it can be managed well by FFD. Or the term is relaying the baton to the younger generation. But honestly, I see that the journey of FFD to sustain is difficult. So, they need a broader way of thinking, not only for the program from year to year, but also the program or sponsorship for the next 5 years. It must be thought well.
You think, how FFD is doing as one of the oldest film festivals (especially documentary) in the eyes of the other festivals?
Sure FFD is a festival that its persistence must be appreciated well. But I think the exposure among the public or film enthusiasts is very poor compared to other festivals. To me, FFD still lacks promotion, so only few know that FFD is in Jogja. It is a problem that should be figured out by FFD; what can be done with limited budget, but also gain decent attention.
For programs, how are the programs by FFD according to your view?
Programs are connected with the budget and vision and mission of the festival. Maybe FFD should reflect on its direction, what kind of film it wants to play. Second, usually, a program is considered successful because it can bring a hot, most-talked-about film. Related to budget, from my experience from Q! The Film Festival, we worked with many other parties to raise funds. It made us think a lot to get some quality partners. Usually, we ask for help from foreign embassy. I don’t see this in FFD. I see FFD still doesn’t manage the budget many days before the festival. That is what it should work on related to budgeting. Maybe not work on, but should be sooner to submit proposals, to ask anyone for help. Aside from the budgeting, programming is strong because the regeneration is maintained well. I see FFD has done that well.
How do you see the persistence of FFD to keep delivering/introducing issues and discussions to the public through documentary films?
The persistence is unquestionable. But I think the audience is only the loyal ones. I don’t see FFD expanding to a broader market. I think it is a problem for FFD. How to draw attention from the audience that never knew or touched FFD. But it is only from my point of view all this time. Maybe there was actually a new audience. Moreover, by holding the festival online, more audiences can be reached because the ones who are far from Jogja can also celebrate the festival.
This year, many festivals are stopped or turned online. As you feel, is the online manner sustainable for a film festival? Then, from the experience from FFD, what is already decent and what things should be improved?
Watching online is a new thing for a film festival. It is common for YouTube. But for festivals, it has developed since this pandemic, and of course, there are some pros and cons.
By online, of course the reach is way broader. Audiences who are physically there still can enjoy the film. I really see FFD adapting to this situation well, very professional.
What FFD should think is whether FFD holds the festival hybrid or back to the original manner. Of course there are some cinematic experiences that can’t be gained online. Networking is also a hard thing to do. Watching festivals online makes networking with new people a difficult thing. Watching festivals online, our concentration will not be 100% since there are many Zoom sessions everyday. Well, this is one thing FFD should look over, how a festival can make opportunities to grow bigger, how watching online does not exhaust the audience in this pandemic era. For me, FFD is already decent in management. However, in this era, FFD should think more and more about selecting the presented content. FFD needs a new surprise to gain a new audience.
Written by Tirza Kanya
Translated by Salsabila Daniswara
Piring Tirbing is a collective artist group from Yogyakarta focusing on cinema. Piring Tirbing has been run by young people who have been actively making films since 2016. In this production house, they make explorative films. In their journey, the Commission Artist chosen by FFD always explores the artistic range and alternative medium limitless.
On one chance, FFD interview some of the members of Piring Tirbing, Aditya Krisnawan, Achmad Rifqon, Agge Akbar, Arief Budiman, Bagas O. A., and Muhammad Erlangga Fauzan. They shared their perspectives until the lore of their work for this year’s FFD.
How does Piring Tirbing see FFD in general?
If we talk about film festivals in Jogja, FFD has a great impact. All of us are majoring in audiovisuals. At film festivals, we can learn, watch films that we don’t watch yet. Then, FFD also eases access to the films.
Talking about film festivals in Jogja, FFD can survive pretty long. FFD becomes one of the documentary film festivals that are important to talk about and be followed. I think there is no festival that focuses on documentary films as FFD does.
How is it related to your works?
Related to our works, it pretty much talks about FFD’s existence for 20 years. 20 years is not a short time for holding festivals. FFD is also not a festival that has much budget. As long as I know, FFD works collectively.
Can you explain further about “existence”? Why did you want to put it into your work?
Chronologically, earlier, we were given a passage about FFD’s retrospective. Then we took some keywords that portray FFD. We took empowerment and persistence. Then we developed them to find a way to make a figure consisting of the spirit of empowerment, criticism in the world of documentary film, and about the documentary film itself. We were discussing and developing ideas until we decided the concept and production technique. The idea was about a starving documentary filmmaker who got helped by his interviewee. About the production technique or the artistic concept, we portrayed two things that can represent the existence of empowerment and persistence.
First, if we talk about filmmaking, the equipment is already sophisticated, advanced. Tripod, camera, many things. Well, in this film, the tools are portrayed as human. Someone is becoming the tripod, another one is becoming the camera, another one is becoming the mic, etc. But, the filmmaker was not ready. Then the conflict happened and the filmmaker got helped by his interviewee. Like that.
The point is, this film talks about whether the production tools are on the same page or not with humans. Is it right?
Actually, if we derive the topic to be more general, we talk about FFD as a festival that is impossible to survive without people behind it. Twenty years, what the people behind it have been through? I believe it is not easy. It is like that if we want to talk about empowerment and persistence.
So, production tools actually are made to support audiovisual work production. In this film, to support the human. Derived to the FFD, the people behind it took our interest.
“Jangan Lupa Makan” also portrays our critics towards the world of documentary films. Represented by the starving filmmaker. In the film, we use durung pondasi. The tools are on set, but the director is starving.
How does Piring Tirbing see FFD in the middle of the hype for art festivals?
The more the events, the better it gets. It is more fun, even more in Jogja. No problem at all.
But, if we want to talk about FFD in the middle of the hype for the art festival, We think FFD is a must-done event each year. Even though there are other festivals that provide places for audiovisual works, there is no other festival that provides documentary film as FFD does. Especially in Jogja, FFD is a must.
This is also about consistency. Twenty years since 2002, began from watching films then become a festival now, I think FFD is a must. It is also important for updates on documentary films. Even we do not often watch documentary films besides from the FFD and Internet.
How to see the FFD’s dream which consistently delivers issues and discussion to the public through documentary films as the medium?
FFD that presents documentary films becomes the entrance gate for many people to see what happens in Jogja, this country, even in other countries. We see this as the media to open their eyes. FFD helps to see that. Whether it is an issue surrounding the world of documentary or the themes carried out by the movies presented by FFD.
We think that that FFD needs to be appreciated more. For the choices on festivals that bring documentary films are limited, FFD has been consistently held each year and becoming our place for us to update ourselves on the world of documentary films.
What do you think about the access or reach of the public towards documentary films?
It is quite accessible. If we come to a festival, what we do mostly is to have some chitchats outside the screening room, to meet friends from other areas, to meet other filmmakers, or to accompany colleagues to watch films. Then, to watch a film. With those activities, we have a comfortable distance to see something, especially FFD. Access is also OK, not very far. Even if it is widened for the more general public. FFD has become a terminal or rendezvous point; whether we want or don’t want to watch films, we meet there. That is festive. Later, it becomes a challenge on how we trick the pandemic problem. The word “festival” later becomes “how do they use the hybrid manner”. Then, where is the festival? The question itself became something interesting to discuss.
Written by Dina Tri Wijaya
Translated by Anggito Cahyo Nugroho
Slamet Thohati is a professor from the Sociology Department of Universitas Brawijaya who puts himself in many inclusivity issues. He was the secretary of the Center for Disability Studies and Services of Universitas Brawijaya for seven years and is the ambassador of Indonesia in AIDRAN (Australia Indonesia Disability and Advocacy Network). He went to the Philosophy Department of Universitas Gadjah Mada and the Department of Sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His research fields include the disabled, intersectionality, health sociology, gender, and Islam in Indonesia.
This year’s Festival Film Dokumenter invites Slamet Thohari as the speaker in DocTalk entitled Voice: Virtual Reality, Cross-Medium and New Effect of Documentary. On Friday, 11th of December 2020, we had the chance to have a deeper understanding of his perspective on disability issues and the correlation with cross-medium technology.
How do you see the accessibility of digital platforms nowadays?
This digital world brings several changes and revolutionary instruments for the disabled which open the way for knowledge. Everything is now accessible. Back then, if the blinds wanted to read a newspaper or a book they should ask for someone to read it for them or use braille. But now, websites, soft files, and things like that make them able to enjoy the news like the others. They are also able to use social media, which they were not. They could not read the morning newspaper, only hear them.
The problem is, the screen reader can’t read every word. For example, wordless posters, the apps can’t read them well. Therefore, the blinds can’t understand announcements or manuals in picture format. They are not accessible for them. Same thing with film. Now, YouTube provides an image-to-speech feature. Back then, there was a movement for making narration for films. Like one of the recently released films, Sejauh Melangkah (2019) by Ucu Agustin provides such accessibility. Including documentary films here provides such accessibility for the blinds to enjoy.
How do you see The Feelings of Reality program?
It really provides new things for the disabled, especially the deaf. Then they will read the lips, blinks, mimics, and rooms. Virtual reality can provide that. Then another problem comes, can the blinds enjoy virtual reality as well?
It becomes a problem. Based on research, 70 governmental websites have accessibility rates of under 80%. It is low. Even Menkominfo is only at 42%. It means that those websites are difficult to access. Therefore, it should be prepared. It provides good things, but still needs improvement.
Is there any awareness or something that should be built?
The narration of the story or pictures. For example, a video may contain a text link. Second, the thing that should be developed is a virtual reality video from the filmmaker’s perspective.
The first perspective is in many films, the filmmakers see the disabled from the non-disabled’s perspective. For example, you and I have different abilities. Sometimes, my world shakes. Do the films picture it? Sometimes films only provide innocent perspective, nice, and smooth. The same thing goes with the blinds when they are analyzing something, it is pictured that they can see things. In fact, the world for the blinds is dark. Therefore, they are still pictured as objects. Therefore, the experience of becoming blind is not there, only the experience of becoming with a blind. Isn’t one of the purposes of virtual reality to make us virtually there? One of the purposes of watching a documentary on the blinds is to feel the experience of becoming one of them.
I am truly happy when a film does not show sorrow about the disabled, as if the disabled has the purpose to bring inspiration to the non-disabled. The disabled are not an inspiration tool for the non-disabled. Being disabled is having only a different daily life. What makes the film interesting is there is no such thing. But for the blinds, I think they are still not in the story.
You think, how far do documentary films affect the public on this inclusivity issue?
Films affect the public greatly. They are a part of advocating instruments for giving literation and awareness about the disabled so they can be accepted by society. Sometimes social media only bores society. But by watching films, they are introduced to the facts of daily life which are pictured by documentary films. I remember there was a film festival for the disabled, it should go on.
Currently, many people are concerned about this issue, even though it is still far from a real implementation. At least, people start talking about that. It is none other than the role of filmmakers.
What is the thing that we should pay attention to or your suggestion on inclusive documentary filmmaking?
The first one is the perspective. Then, how the film can be enjoyed by many people, including its accessibility. The point of view is not to make the disabled charity objects, inspiration tools, and not to dramatize their life. They don’t exist to be given mercy. Instead, show the real life of the disabled.
The things that should be reviewed are the paradigm and the perspective on making films about the disabled. Don’t show their suffering, as if they are superb with their disabilities.
How does a perspective on a medium develop a certain experience that raises awareness on this disability issue?
From research. And the point of view on the disabled. For example, we see women, we should see them as subjects, not objects. Therefore, we should learn about feminism in advance. The same thing goes with making films about the disabled, we should learn about the point of view on disabilities. We still lack it, I think. But at least, the representation of the disabled is up and down. It changes from year to year. Currently, it is already good. So, research is crucial. To make it inclusive, the films involve the disabled from the beginning. Let them speak, not speak for them.
Why does objectification like this exist and what is the role of technology in the case?
That’s because a part of the construction process makes the disabled unable. It is confusing that they are always inspirational. It is a stigma. TV, films, and so on play a big role in popularizing that stigma. That is a part of discrimination, the way the non-disabled perceive the disabled as the weak. They perceive them as inspiration porn, which aims only to satisfy the audience.
How do you see the representation of the disabled as the subjects in audiovisual products in general?
We should admit that there is still a stigma. If it is not inspiration porn, then it is the medical view. The view according to human rights, such as among activists, is that they still see the disabled as the weak and should be helped. It can be seen from various policies at the regional or the central levels.
Written by Dina Tri Wijayanti
Agung Kurniawan or commonly known as Agung Leak is a commission artist for the 2021 Documentary Film Festival (FFD). Since the 90s he has been active in the art world. Agung has an interest in making works of art with themes from taboo or sensitive issues. Such as genocide, politics, women, transgender and so on.
The FFD team had the opportunity to interview Agung who explained his views regarding the documentary, the meaning of his work for this year’s FFD form, and his hopes for FFD in general. Here’s our full interview with Agung Leak:
How does Pak Agung view FFD in general?
I’ve known FFD for a long time, if I’m not mistaken since it was first conceived. Then I got information about FFD directly from its office, because it happened to be near where I used to hang out at that time. Last year the festival was also held at Kedai Kebun, so I also enjoyed it directly. Physically and festival-wise, I got to know it quite well. I also know some people who are activists of FFD.
Festival-wise, I think the Documentary Film Festival has a very important role, especially today. Because currently the one that’s in power in the arts regime is the creative industry regime. Despite the many advantages, one of the weaknesses for the creative industry is the attitude that tends to be positivistic. That is, then people are expected to think positively, give a positive impression, so all in a very positive situation. Then it causes something abnormal, because in life we cannot always receive a positive impression. Because clearly there is “falsehood” there.
Well, documentaries have subversive substance in them, because they are practically different from fiction films. Through documentaries, something more critical can emerge because documentaries are personal. This documentary shows a critical side and tries to see humans from all aspects of their lives in a more balanced way, avoiding the intervention of those who restrain them. I think it is in this context that FFD becomes important, because it provides space to voice the silent side of today’s situation. Something that is difficult to convey in fiction films, something that is difficult to catch by other festivals, maybe like dance or other.
What do Pak Agung wants to portray through the work made for FFD 2021?
I was asked to tell about patience and persistence. At first, I thought it would be troublesome too. How do we imagine that situation?
Then I returned to my model of thinking about documentaries, fiction films, and the creative world of industry. I see documentaries as more critical and simpler. In fact, it has stronger persistence because in general it is more independent. So I thought, what could describe the situation? When I talk about creative industries, I imagine they are like peacocks, chirping birds, or other ornamental birds. Then when I think of documentaries, I think of them as insects.
Why insects? Can you emphasize?
Insects are one of the most invincible types of living things and they cannot possibly become extinct. For example cockroaches, it will not become extinct. Some studies show that even nuclear war cannot make cockroaches extinct. Even when its head was cut off, it was still able to live for some time.
The appearance of insects in some cultures is considered a punishment. The appearance of insects in large numbers means that something is wrong. If there are a lot of documentaries, there are a lot of people who start filming and documenting means there are things they want to talk about. So a documentary is no different from an insect, ideologically it is the same as an insect. Unlike the fictional film, they are peacocks, chirping birds or parrots that are assigned to entertain. In documentary films, the essence is to survive, attack and warn if something is wrong.
If lots of insects appear in the ecosystem something must be wrong. For example, because the number of predators is decreasing, this proves that there is an imbalance in nature. The number of insects should not be too much and not too little. If there are too many, it indicates there is a problem. If it’s too little there’s also a problem. That is the balanced position that must be held by the documentary. If there are too few documentaries, then there is a society that is not critical enough to view the world. That’s my perspective on how documentaries are positioned at this point. Documentaries are insects, so he has to be a marker. Markers of the times, are we doing well or something is wrong.
Is there something interesting that Pak Agung experienced during the making process of commission work for FFD 2021?
Personally, the work I did for FFD gave me the idea of making wayang. I’m now creating a new project that will work with shadow puppets. The result of me getting commission work from FFD. I have always considered commission work as an advantage. Because I work in a special situation with a custom theme. Then later I reflect on my current situation, so that I get an idea to create a new work. The insects I made for FFD made me have a new masterpiece. Because if I wasn’t a commission artist at FFD I wouldn’t have found this theme.
What do you expect from the audience’s interpretation of your work for FFD 2021? Because not everyone can understand the artwork easily.
To see the artwork actually takes a preference. But when they read my explanation, they can imagine to be insects, to be living things that don’t die quickly, and just don’t become decorations. I think that’s the ideological value of this festival.
How does Pak Agung see FFD which has reached 20 years?
Twenty years of the festival is an achievement because not many can achieve it. When it was able to hold out that long, it was probably because FFD wasn’t trying to get too big. Keep it small, keep it simple, so that then the cost is not as big as to make a grand festival. I think that’s a great achievement. We are currently facing a difficult situation which is a pandemic and it is still going on, this is extraordinary. I don’t think all festivals can do that. Moreover, in recent years FFD has become international.
My advice, it is not really necessary to hold FFD for every year. Every two years would do, so you have the space, you have the time, you have the means to be more reflective. If it’s once a year, that means, once it’s finished, it’s time to prepare for the following year. So there is not enough room for reflection.
How does Pak Agung see the presence of FFD in the midst of the passion of art festivals (in general) in Indonesia (or Yogyakarta)?
FFD must imagine how it stands among other festivals in Asia. If we talk about FFD indirectly, we are not only talking about nationally, but also the Southeast Asian region. If we talk about Indonesia today, it’s not only Indonesia, but how Indonesia is competing in the Southeast Asian region. If we talk about FFD in Indonesia, we indirectly also talk about FFD in Asia and in the world because FFD has a strategic position. FFD must be able to find strategic value that cannot be obtained at other festivals.
How does Pak Agung see FFD’s desire to continue presenting/introducing issues and discussions in the community through documentary media?
I think the documentary medium is a simple medium. More cost-effective than fiction films that cost a lot of money. The important value of documentaries that must be kept is to keep it simple. Back in the 90s there were prototype cameras, then people started recording what they saw. Now it can be done with a cellphone. I think one day FFD will have to hold a workshop on how to edit a documentary on a mobile phone. Basically everyone is a documentary filmmaker.
As an artist who enjoys the FFD event, what are your hopes for FFD in the future?
Keep it small and simple, because with it, it is proven that FFD can last for 20 years. Don’t be tempted to be big and radiant, because it makes us work to please others and lose the essence of the beginning. Do not work to please others, I think that is the purpose of creative work.
Written by Dinda Agita
Translated by Salsabila Daniswara