Student Competition Interview with Jury Members: Holding on Courage in Simplicity

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FFD 2023

This year’s student films bring a bold newness in terms of perspectives and ideas. Even though the topics still revolve around tradition, the presentation of the student films in this category is quite new and fresh. Festival Film Dokumenter 2023 presents the Student Competition program and presents three judges who watch and appreciate the nominated films. The three jury members of the Student Competition program are Wahyu Utami (Uut), Dini Adanurani (Dini), and Manuel Alberto Maia (Abe).

Here is a summary of our interview session with the jury.

How do you see the five selected films in this category?

(Abe) I see that these films have a variety of stories because they (the student filmmakers) do come from different regions. I think these five films are important and interesting.

(Uut) As student documentaries, these five films are already quite interesting. They have an interest and ability to read events. Even though the story doesn’t feel complete, when seen from a student’s perspective, it is already interesting.

(Dini) For the student category, each film is an opportunity for them to learn to cultivate sensitivity. There are many issues that are covered and most of them talk about the culture in their respective regions. That’s very interesting. In addition, four of the five films are directed by women. From this, we can see that there is a spirit of equality. There are initiatives that are not limited to gender in the student category.

How do the jury see exploratory strengths and accomplishments in the student category?

(Dini) When viewed from the mode of speech, it is very diverse. There are ways of speaking that are still conventional, namely through interviews, but there are also those that are closer to objects, sounds, and sensory things. Some are observational and dare to enter private spaces. There is also a simple but powerful style of speech.

(Uut) Quite diverse. We think one film is interesting because it looks different in terms of approach. Generally, student documentaries use an interview approach, but there is one film that dares to take an observational approach. This shows that student filmmakers are starting to dare to approach the subject and the story.

(Abe) In addition to the ability to explore the issues or themes brought up, five films this year, it must be mentioned, have the courage to explore the story further. Not only is it compartmentalized into a variety of issues in the social environment, but it has also entered personal spaces. This is interesting because it must be recognized that Indonesian student documentaries, this year in particular, still dwell on themes around culture and the like. Many of their perspectives are still born from these themes, not daring to go out to see a more independent world.

How do you assess the strengths of the selected films to then select the winner? 

(Dini) The jury’s decision was quite unanimous because there was one film whose way of approaching the art-tradition issue felt very honest and as it is. The film was able to get into private spaces and capture intimate gestures that really gave perspective on how the subjects in the story lived and how their daily lives were intertwined with the art-tradition issue.

(Uut) Having a winner in the student category is important because we as a jury see that this is a film produced by students. So, we don’t make expectations that are too high. We look at the context. The decision of the winner is important because it will encourage the students to continue their dream of becoming documentary filmmakers. In addition, the winning film was also chosen because the filmmaker has the sensitivity to read the social events around him and then can package it into a film. Sensitivity is indeed the basic capital of a documentary filmmaker. This is what the film has.

(Abe) This winning film dares to get out of the zone or normative situation created in classrooms. As a student, this courage should be appreciated. The courage to present a different kind of storytelling. The courage to see simple events in their environment, and then tell it simply as well. This winning film is interesting because it starts with simple things.

What are your impressions, advice, and hopes for Indonesian student documentary filmmakers?

(Abe) Indonesia is a very rich and diverse country. There is a need to explore ways of storytelling in documentary films to respond to this diversity. Documentary films can’t just be done with one approach, it has to be done with a variety of approaches.

(Uut) Just be braver to explore and talk about what is interesting. Try to be more courageous in talking about what you want to talk about.

(Dini) Use this opportunity as a student to make whatever you want.

(Abe) Make films that are independent and explorative.

Festival Film Dokumenter 2023 is proud and honored to present Ebeg Lovers (2023) directed by Kartika Tri Wardani as the awardee of the Best Student Documentary. We would like to thank all the selection committees and jury members who have been involved in this year’s festival.