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.
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