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.