by Sherif Awad
As we mentioned in the last article, the International Film Festival, in Rotterdam (IFFR), gives priority to filmmakers, who are producing their first or second film. In that context, a dreamy fantasy film, based upon Indonesian myths and legends, called Another Trip To The Moon, was screened during the IFFR main competition. The film is a long, dialogue-free film, which revolves around
Asa, who escapes from her mother,only to hide in the forest with her only girlfriend. In the woods, the two young girls survive by hunting and fishing fora while, until they establish a quiet daily routine until suddenly, Asa’s friend is struck dead by lightning. The loss devastates Asa, who can no longer hunt or eat as she did previously. Asa’s mother somehow telepathically senses her despair and inspires Asa to connect with a young man who has the head of a dog. Following this, Asa returns to
her classically beautiful Javanese house with the man-dog, who is revealed to be a Prince, sent by her mother to collect her and bring her home. Asa and the Prince marry and have a child together.
At times, the film seems strange and absurd, but the Indonesian writer director Ismail Basbeth directs his actors with great elegance and passion.
The thirty year old Basbeth studied Indonesian traditional music in Bandung, before moving to Yogyakarta to study Communications and while there shot his first short film, Hide
and Sleep (2008) through his alternative production company, Hide Project Indonesia. In 2012, he was invited to the Berlinale Talent Campus, which gave him the creative push to make
Another Trip To The Moon, his feature debut.
In many Islamic countries, the system of social control and domination of women restricts their roles to wife, homemaker and mother. “In the tradition of Islam, I understand that in front of God, humans are represented as women. God is the only man that created our life, and human is the women created by Him,” said Basbeth.
“The people of Indonesia lived and grew together with these traditions, myths and fairytales, in various forms and versions. These influences have led to generations who see women as objects to be led, rather than as persons who lead their own lives. Women have no strong position in Indonesia’s patriarchal way of life. I made this film in an effort to break those traditions.”
In Indonesian fairy tales, it is said that a Prince from heaven is falling in love with a human whose name is Dayang Sumbi. The Prince and Dayang Sumbi marry and have a son who is called Sangkuriang. On the day Sangkuriang is born, the Prince must turn into a dog, named Tumang,
the condition that the Prince’s father decreed, when he allowed the Prince to
marry Dayang. One day, Dayang sent Sangkuriang and Tumang to the forest
to hunt but they found nothing there.
Overcome with evil, Sangkuriang murders Tumang and gives his heart to Dayang. Realizing what he has done, Dayang banishes Sangkuriang and lives alone thereafter. Many years later, Sangkuriang returns to the village and falls in love with a beautiful woman, not realizing she is his own mother.
“In my story, I borrowed the relationships of Dayang Sumbi, Tumang and Sangkurian,” continued Basbeth.
“My film is about the journey of a woman, fighting for and confronting her deepest fear; to be a completely free person. Watching this film will give you spiritual, magical and poetic experiences.”
Basbeth is currently working on his second feature, a father-son road movie called Mencar Hilal, which literally means, “In Search Of The Crescent Moon, in Arabic.” Hanung Bramantyo, a critically acclaimed director whose films also enjoy great success at the box office has signed
on to produce the film. Shooting will commence this month, after the RIFF
The Awards Ceremony, held on the final day of the Rotterdam International Film Festival was held
at the Doelen Center, the IFFR’s principal venue. The three winners of the Hivos Tiger Award Competition Prize were La Obra Del Siglo by Carlos M. Quintela from Cuba, a feature about
the Electro-Nuclear City (ENC) which was once part of an ambitious Soviet-Cuban venture to build
the first Caribbean nuclear power station in Juragua; Vanishing Point by Jakrawal Nilthamrong from Thailand, a thriller about a young reporter who attempts to reconstruct a car accident that seems to be related to other crimes and Videophilia (And Other Viral Syndromes) by Juan Daniel F. Molero from Peru, who studies the influence of digital modernity on young Peruvians. The filmmakers were each awarded £15,000. Next stop: Germany for The Berlinale Film Festival.