Questioned the Truth in Documentary through Discussion about ‘Post-Truth’


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Discussion session with the topic ‘Post-Truth’ that raised by Festival Film Dokumenter as the main theme in Perspektif program this year had been held on (12/12). The discussion opened by Sazkia Noor Anggraini as Festival Manager of FFD 2017. The discussion then involved three speakers; Roy Thaniago (Researcher of Remotivi), Gilang B. Santoso (Director of “AWAL: Nasib Manusia”), and Agus Darmawan (Director of “The Red Barred”) and moderated by Irfan R. Darajat (Researcher of LARAS).

Departing from Post-Truth theme, Festival Film Dokumenter then have chosed three film that became base topic the discussion; “AWAL: Nasib Manusia” (Gilang B. Santoso, 2017), “Pantja Sila: Cita-Cita dan Realita” (Tino Saroengallo & Tyo Pakusadewo, 2016), dan “The Red Barred” (Agus Darmawan & Sakti Parantean, 2017). Each films considered to have background story that can describe Indonesian socio-political situation in the context of Post-Truth.

the discussion is started with screening of “AWAL: Nasib Manusia” that told us about portrait of a Indonesian student that sent to Russia in the Soekarno era to studying film. But, he couldn’t go back to Indonesia after ’65 tragedy because of the stigma and communism label that given to him as he studied in Russia. This film is depicting on how a stigma can change someone’s life and make someone feels like his country is throwing him away. A baseless judgment without clear fact which then connected to how a film considered as a depiction of Post-Truth phenomenon in the discussion that held after the screening.

FFD 2017 | Diskusi Perspektif

Started with Roy Thaniago’s explanation about post-truth context as a phenomenon of truth, the discussion that titled “Dokumenter di Era Post-Truth” (Documentary in the Post-Truth Era) revolving on the topic of how post-truth and truth itself judged through documentary film. Post-truth as a new term on seeing truth became an interesting study because its background, whre truth in the post-truth is related to the dominant power.

Throughout the discussion, Roy Thaniago explained in detail how the post-truth term is suddenly got famous, until it awarded as 2016 Word of The Year by Oxford Dictionary. From the event of mass election of United States which involved news about Trump, up to more local event like 212 movemen and mass election of DKI Jakarta. He also explained post-truth in communication perspective about how post-truth formed as media phenomenon that started with internet and social media development.

“The presence of internet have opened new opportunity where people can produce the information which in the past time only held by a group of authority. Internet opened a possibility that anyone can circulate their ideas in public conversation. This is related with echo chamber effect, an echo space where information only spinning in one place and reinforcing each other,” explained Roy.

FFD 2017 | Diskusi Perspektif

In documentary context, post truth which talked about truth is considered as how documentary work and what is actually done in documentary. Is it showing truth? meanwhile documentary is presenting reality, not truth, because truth is still considered as an utopian topic depends on what version of truth is we are talking about.

Truth in documentary then explained by Gilang B. Santoso as the director of “AWAL: Nasib Manusia.” He admitted that the film is actually a process of finding the truth itself. Film “AWAL: Nasib Manusia” is a question from his dissatisfaction feeling towards public opinion about truth. Through depiction of communism stigma he embedded to the main character.

The discussion went actively as the question is being given endlessly. There were so many question about the truth itself and how is documentary position in facing post-truth. the conclusion from the discussion is how documentary is a claim of reality, not truth. Documentary is also not presenting the real reality, but the representation of the reality itself, what had chosen, what was portrayed, and which one is to strengthen?