How Indonesia’s cinema opened up
Share on Linkedin
Laskar Pelangi (Credit: Shutterstock)
Jason Lai meets two film-makers taking advantage of a new mood of freedom in Indonesia.
Sorry, this video is no longer available

Heavy censorship under President Suharto’s dictatorship stunted Indonesia’s film industry. But in the atmosphere of freedom that followed his overthrow in 1998, film-makers adopted a more experimental approach and were not afraid to confront the grittier realities of life in the country.

Mira Lesmana and Riri Riza are leading filmmakers of the post-reform Indonesia, hoping to introduce Indonesian cinema to the rest of the world. The 2002 hit they produced, What’s Up with Love?, was the biggest film at the Indonesian box-office in that year and sparked controversy among conservative Muslims for its depiction of a passionate kiss. Both have also directed feature films in which they hope to investigate the political and social complexities of Indonesian life.

Although Indonesia has a population of 250 million people, the country has just over 1,000 cinema screens. Many of the films that play court a mass audience, but Meiske Taurisia wants to develop a more sophisticated film culture. From her ‘micro-cinema’ Kinosaurus in West Jakarta, she screens a diverse range of smaller-scale, arthouse films, to educate young viewers.

Conductor Jason Lai discovers these and more when he goes in search of the heart of Indonesia.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Around the BBC