“Short Film Festival is defined as a cultural event that considers cinema and video as an art form and a film or video as a work of art.” – Short Film Conference
The quote above demonstrates film festivals as cultural work. Minikino believes that culture can only exist and thrive with exchange, not isolation. This belief illustrates how Minikino pays a lot of attention to optimizing inclusive accessibility. Minikino, as a short film festival in Indonesia, has the capacity to be an agent of change.
My overlaps with film festivals started when I moved to Jogja in 2016 for college. I hung out at film festivals, even though I’ve never been a volunteer or a part of the working team. The chance to join the Minikino internship program as a writer is actually my first ever experience taking part in a film festival. On our first meeting, June 30th, 2021, we learned about what Minikino actually is and what sort of work that it offers for the internship participants. The other interns were Tirza Kanya from Jogja, Rayhan Dharmawan from Jakarta, and Azalia Syahputri from Bali. The meeting was led and presented by Edo Wulia, the Festival Director who has been working for Minikino since 2003. This writing is a brief reflection essay based on the meeting.
Listening to Edo’s presentation of Minikino’s network and performance made me feel like I was at the forefront of a local and global cultural diversity movement. It excites me because I always think and act in an intercultural context, locally and globally. Moreover, Minikino does cultural exchange through films as their medium, something that I am very enthusiastic about. Locally, Minikino becomes the agent of cultural change through their Indonesia Raja program, a short film exchange program showcased on a local scale. And the Pop-Up Cinema program, screening short films across villages on the island of Bali. Globally, the cultural exchange is present through their Monthly-Screening & Discussion program and their international short film festival, Minikino Film Week, which is an effort to bring together short film buffs and filmmakers on a global scale.
Short films, in any way, are in a marginalized position. Perhaps the reason was easy to guest—as Edo said—the capital is not there. The marginalized short films also went through discrimination. An example of this discriminatory practice can be seen at Festival Film Indonesia (FFI) in 2012 when Bermula Dari A won the Citra Award as the best short film. After receiving the trophy on stage, BW Purbanegara started his victory speech by saying, “Good evening. If I’m not mistaken, this is off-air, right? Turns out that FFI still discriminates against short films.” It was then followed by cheers and applause from the audience. Just a few minutes before BW Purbanegara went on stage, the FFI 2012 host informed the audience that they would be taking a commercial break, hence the best short film award was not aired.
Besides that, in film production, short films are still considered as an introduction or merely filmmakers’ exercise work, before getting into the making of feature films. I often heard the expression, “I want to make four short films first before I make a feature film” or “I’d rather make a short film first so that I can have a solid team, then proceed to make feature films.” It is totally acceptable to have these thoughts. However, the attitude will lead to a misconception of short films being the short version of feature films. The lack of awareness of the duration potential brings another common misconception that short films would have to use the same conventions as feature films.
Although there was a breath of fresh air in the short film industry when Tilik (2018) went viral and became the talk of Indonesian people. But the cultural phenomenon was rarely found, like an oasis in the desert. Despite all of that, it is a fact that short films are free from the market-driven demands, allowing short films to be a good cultural practice to convey ideas as a whole. Short films are the most accessible and cost-friendly medium for anyone to produce. Not merely channels that treat short films as a second-class medium after feature films.
The presence of festivals, pop-up cinemas, and alternative screenings become the most possible distribution model for this medium. After all, short films will keep growing even in a degrading environment. Like mushrooms, it will keep on growing and become an alternative escape option from the mundane, repetitive modern capitalist world that sublimely dictates and compartmentalizes what is “good” for us to consume.