Written by Ayu Diah Cempaka, December 2016.
When you live in a country where the government interferes quite often with the society’s moral value, we are excepted to notice certain limits, including films. The state decides which films can or can not be watched. So it’s not possible to watch a kissing scene on television or in film theater (although ironically there are many sexy scenes horror film that passed the censorship and available for public viewing).
The government’s censorship also controls things that are considered against Pancasila and religious values besides choosing improper pictures. For example, it’s not possible to watch a film on television about communism or story about an atheist who lived happily ever after. Remember the cutting ribbon scene of the film ‘Perempuan Punya Cerita’? Many scenes were cut because they are regarded disrespectful to Indonesian moral values. In fact, those scenes are important parts of the story that represent the community involved. The censorship board doesn’t want to know nor care if the film’s structure construction will crumble. They are not bothered by the pra-production research. As long as it is against Indonesian’s values then it must be censored although it is not clear which Indonesia’s values that are referred to.
The space for watching films has been developed and so does production strategy. Many film makers had made decision from the very beginning that they are not going to show their films on television or commercial cinema. Some people generalize these kinds as indie film and have alternative movement path. In this context, let’s call them non-cinema films (despite including television). As films that don’t deal with censorship issue, filmmakers explore ideas and concept flexibly with medium exploration freedom. This is the background of naming them indie film (not just independent in funding or production, but also in ideas).
In 2014, Kalyana Shira released short films compilation titled “Story about Secret” featuring three shorts: ‘Sleep Tight, Maria’, ‘Pertanyaan untuk Bapak’, and ‘Emak dari Jambi’. Each film tells about the character’s secret. ‘Sleep Tight, Maria’ is a story about Maria’s fear for thinking about her ideal man to masturbate. Until this time, it is taboo for a woman to talk about masturbation. It’s a rare discussion topic in society and a stigma that women do not deserve to talk about their own body, not to mention women sexual needs. It’s a taboo. The more women explore their body and sexual needs, the more society will questioned her morality.
‘Pertanyaan untuk Bapak’ will surprise the homophobic audience. It’s not just talks about the main character. Yatna as the director and a gay, attracts the audience to explore his past. He faces his father and tries to find answers why he would sodomize his own son. This film is an attempt for Yatna to make peace with his past that still haunts him. The next film is ‘Emak dari Jambi’ that tells a story about a mother from Jambi who want to meet her transgender son in Jakarta. Instead of rejecting her son like the other parents do, she chooses to recognize her son that is now a woman by following her daily life.
All three films in ‘Story about Secret’ invite the audience to rethink society’s moral standard by showing stories that will not be possible to be watched on television. By denuding the characters in each film it become not just their stories but also wider society’s context where real stories and identities are not accepted in community, obviously not on our TV and cinema. There is no place for gay and transgender in television except as a bad character that ends with two options, repent or be doomed. The space is also limited for women that would like to define her own body, not just a dominated object of another power.
Open Discussion with Ricky & Anggun (film “Emak dari Jambi”)
Ayu Diah Cempaka menyelesaikan studi di Jurusan Sastra Prancis Universitas Gadjah Mada. Membantu mengelola Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) Yogyakarta sejak 2012. Sempat berpartisipasi dalam kelas kritik film “Mari Menulis!” yang diselenggarakan oleh Festival Film Solo dan Cinema Poetica 2014, juga Film Critic Workshop kerja sama Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan Foundation Asia Center, dan Salamindanaw Film Festival, di Filipina 2016.
Eka Lengari, mahasiswi Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha jurusan pendidikan guru sekolah dasar. Suka menonton film dan penyuka anjing.
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