“There is a lot of production, but not enough audience for Indonesian short films,” admits Edo Wulia, Minikino Film Week’s director, as he enjoys a short pause during the 7th edition of the festival currently under sway.
As Minikino has grown over the past few years, becoming an increasingly visible platform dedicated to bringing you “your healthy dose of short film”, the festival has been playing an especially important role in promoting Indonesia’s own short film scene. In fact, the festival itself was born from the organizing team’s will to showcase Indonesian short films to a wider audience. This is how the idea of Indonesia Raja was born, a programme dedicated to present the best short films from all over the archipelago. Relying on a team of programmers from various regions, the programme is the only existing platform showcasing Indonesian shorts on a national level. Its first edition in 2015 was an overwhelming success, with no less than 10 programmes, revealing the eagerness of Indonesian filmmakers to be seen on the big screen. This prompted the team to create an annual festival, which would showcase the best of Indonesian shorts along other entries from Southeast Asia and beyond. Minikino Film Week was thus born. Now in its 7th edition, Indonesia Raja has grown both in quantity and quality, based on an ever-growing network of programmers and collaborators. Although the pandemic has strongly impacted film production in the country, this year’s programmation still boasts six regional sub-programmes, from bustling Jakarta to Aceh and of course Minikino’s own turf, Bali.
Indonesia Raja benefits from a network of dedicated and enthusiastic programmers such as Kardian Narayana, responsible for the Balinese programme this year. Himself a journalist and dedicated community leader in his native Buleleng in Northern Bali, he has been involved with Minikino since the beginning. This year is the third time he comes up with a programme for the festival and he made the long trip just to attend the festival for the whole week. “Through the programme, I wanted to show the diverse emotions people go through.”
Diversity is a term often heard from the mouth of the festival organizers and literally defines what the festival stands for: to reflect the richness of Indonesia they love and want to see represented on screen.
Promoting diversity but also discussing important issues faced by Indonesia, especially as the country struggles amidst the ongoing pandemic, is at the very core of this year’s programmation. “I am very happy to see the young generation addressing important issues in a bold way. That is what short film should be, a way to freely talk about all these important themes,” says Edo Wulia, as he acknowledges the slow but steady progress made by Indonesian filmmakers over the past few years.
This boldness is reflected in Indonesia Raja’s Jakarta Metropolitan programme, curated by the equally outspoken and multi-hyphenate Nosa Normanda. Himself a filmmaker and a writer, he also co-founded MondiBlanc Film Workshop, a scholarship-based film workshop through which he teaches and helps developing the film industry in Jakarta. Although it is his first time programming for Minikino, he has been involved in the festival for several years, offering workshops and running the festival podcast “Kopi Selem”. “I wanted to show the reality of Jakarta’s urban poor but not in a pitiful or tearful way. I chose films that embraced that reality and presented it differently, with an empowering and critical angle.”
Indeed one cannot help admiring the filmmakers’ bravery as they address sensitive issues or themes that are often seen as taboo within Indonesian society, such as sex, gender and religion or the darker side of social media use in a very direct and bold way.
In addition to contributing to greater visibility for the Indonesian short film scene, Minikino has also been very active in offering opportunities for filmmakers to hone their skills and develop their art. This year, the festival runs two side events for young aspiring filmmakers willing to gain valuable experience. In “Toast Your short”, seven young filmmakers are given the opportunity to pitch their short film in front of a panel of film festival programmers and collaborators to gain insight about the viability of their project.
“Nurturing Film Festival Writers”, a forum resulting from a 6-month internship programme involving 21 young Indonesians, features the writings about film from the 4 best students, made available online for all to read.
This nurturing attitude is starting to bear fruit, with new talents emerging at the festival. Case in point, Winner Wijaya, a young filmmaker hailing from East Java, is now a regular fixture at Minikino Film Week. After winning the 2020 Begadang film competition, in which the participants must complete their film within 36 hours, he is returning this year as part of the main programme, along over 20 other Indonesian entries, with “Masa Depan Cerah 2040”, an original take on future life living under the Covid-19 pandemic. The film is competing along four other entries in this year’s national competition for best short. With talented new blood, the future of Indonesian short film is assured.