Reliving the Memory of Abduh Aziz


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On Friday (Dec 6th), Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) 2019 held yet another DocTalk session entitled DocTalk entitled “Documentary and Arts Ecosystem in Indonesia”. This agenda is a part of the Lanskap: Tribute to Abduh program and was held at Auditorium IFI-LIP Yogyakarta. Moderated by Amerta Kusuma (Board of Forum Film Dokumenter), this discussion invited Lulu Ratna (short film festival enthusiast and co-founder of Organisasi Boemboe), Kisno Ardi (filmmaker and community video activist), and Aryo Danusiri (filmmaker and researcher) to share their stories.

In this year’s installment of Lanskap, FFD 2019 wants to look back and pay homage to the late Abduh Aziz for his contribution in the filmmaking world as well as socio-political scene of Indonesia through his role as a producer, director, and writer. Abduh was remembered for his activism and advocacy in asserting film as a product of arts and culture.

Firstly, before beginning the discussion session, three of four films in Lanskap program were screened: Di Atas Rel Mati (Welldy Handoko & Nur Fitriah, 2006), Abracadabra! (Aryo Danusiri, 2003), and Tjidurian 19 (Lasja F. Susatyo & M. Abduh Aziz, 2009).

Afterwards, the three speakers shared their first encounter with Abduh Aziz and their impression of him. Lulu, for instance, said that he first met Abduh when they were both students of Universitas Indonesia. They first worked together in Jakarta International Film Festival 1999. Since then, they often got involved in the same projects again.

Abduh was often teased as an organization mania. He was always willing to facilitate anything to be collectively achieved. “Whenever there was a whiteboard, Abduh just naturally mapped the end goals and the steps needed. If there was a meeting for new ideas or new movements, it was likely he was there. He too, was capable of assuring everyone that they were in it for a cause. He accommodated different-minded people in the same place,” said Lulu.

Kisno, on the other hand, first got acquainted with Abduh in 2003 at the screening of Aku Ingin Menciummu Sekali Saja (Garin Nugroho, 2002). Then, he and Abduh attended a filmmaking workshop together, though they had not been intensively communicating. Their first intimate conversation was when they met in Teater Kecil Taman Ismail Marzuki for a film screening. Then, Abduh offered Cangkir Kopi —Abduh’s production house located in Jatiwaringin— to Kisno as a place to stay whenever he comes to Jakarta again.

There were two advice from Abduh that Kisno still fondly remembers. The first is “Don’t be a director for the sake of making your own film. Be one to be able to handle the situation and the people around you on set.” Abduh also reminded Kisno to make sure of the goals, ideas, and form before beginning to make a documentary film.

Meanwhile, Aryo had known Abduh since they were in junior high school. They both had the same drama teacher. After that, Aryo and Abduh together learned to film; they rented laserdisc, made art house and even mainstream ones. When Aryo’s desire to research Teater Koma had to end, it was Abduh who encouraged Aryo to write his thesis on film. “To talk about Abduh Aziz, for me, is to talk about his undying spirit to promote that film, besides a product of arts, is also an interdisciplinary knowledge endeavor. Documentary is not research; it is a process of research, Abduh said. Documentary is not a manifestation of an already-defined knowledge. Instead, knowledge is acquired in the practice of the filmmaking itself,” he concluded.

Written by Nizmi Nasution

Translated by M. Hafidh Al Mukmin