Di Balik Rupa (2023): Putting on Make-Up of Terror

— Film Review
FFD 2023

In 1983, Subarkah Hadisarjana was in his junior year at Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) when he received an offer to work on a film project at Pusat Produksi Film Negara (PPFN). A letter was officially sent to his campus, asking Barkah to join as a makeup and visual effects artist in the film project. Barkah initially received the offer directly from Arifin C. Noer, a well-known Indonesian playwright, poet, and film and theater director from the 70s. “Let’s make a horror film!” he asked. Barkah’s adventure begins and Di Balik Rupa (Adlino Dananjaya, 2023) takes us along with him on a journey into the past.

The horror film referred to by Arifin C. Noer turned out to be Penumpasan Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI. A film that was once mandated by the government to be screened by all levels of society during the New Order era. The film is considered one of the most important and authentic historical sources to describe the tragedy of 1965.

Long before he got the offer, when Barkah was 6 years old, he saw hundreds of bodies floating along the Brantas River. At that time, he still knew nothing about the tragedy. However, the memory of the floating bodies, which seemed to have been deliberately designed as river ornaments, is still clearly imprinted in his memory. As it turns out, the universe deliberately showed Barkah that scene so that one day he could reconstruct the memory of this traumatizing event, not only for himself, but also for the people of Indonesia, through film.

In the referred film, Barkah was asked to create replica dolls of the bodies of the assassinated generals. After studying the script, he immediately went to see forensic doctors to conduct research interviews. Tragically, the doctors Barkah met at the time were unable to answer exactly what the bodies of those who were killed looked like after being tortured, shot, and buried under the garbage for four days. The scenario was too horrific and heinous. A historical scenario that still feels like fiction.

Barkah’s struggle and skill paid off when his first cadaver puppet experiment was showcased in the PPFN courtyard. He was applauded. Arifin C. Noer tapped him on the shoulder, ” The person who makes the corpse puppet has to be Barkah.” For Barkah, the most important task of a makeup and visual effects artist is to create an impression. That impression is created through a long process of learning and practicing as well as perseverance. Barkah is a self-taught artist who relies on magazines, anatomy books, research trips to hospitals, and his childhood memories to sharpen the impression of his works. Those impressions are his inspiration. That inspiration is his truth.

Di Balik Rupa (2023) is selected in Lanskap: Grotesque Cinema Festival Film Dokumenter 2023. (Hesty N. Tyas) (Vanis)


Film Details
Di Balik Rupa
Adlino Dananjaya | 10 Min | 2023 | DKI Jakarta, Indonesia | Color | 17+

Screening Schedule
12.05 | Auditorium IFI-LIP | 13.00 WIB
12.08 | Gedung ex Bioskop Permata | 18.40 WIB