As a long-term project in Beijing International Short Film Festival, Asia on Action! is an annual platform for Asian filmmakers to exchange featuring forum, screening and lectures. Each year, BISFF invites a film/image-making community from an Asian country to curate events during the film festival period, aiming to foster robust connection across countries, groups, generations and individuals.
After featuring Tan Chui Mui and Sea Shorts (film festival) in Asia on Action! last year, BISFF is extremely honored to have Hafiz Rancajale and Afrian Purnama (on behalf of Arkipel film festival and Forum Lenteng) in 2019. They are one of the most original and significant film collective in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. With more than 15 years, their work is not only an alternative to college education but almost replacement for that.
I attended a special screening program of Arkipel (film festival) in Jakarta this year. They showed several short films by a legendary Javanese choreographer and dancer, which were stunning. I have never seen any films blending with witches, ecstasy, myths, dances and rituals like this before. Not mention to categorize, it is even difficult to understand with rationality. Confronting with that kind of film, I can not do anything else rather than watching. Just open the eyes and watch. After the screening, I told Hafiz, ‘I think I have never seen any film like this.’ He smirked, saying, ‘Sardono is not famous for films, he has many films at home not being digitized. No one watched and not many even knew them. We are doing it.’
This is just a glimpse of what Arkipel and Forum Lenteng is doing, a tip of the iceberg. They are highly aware that they are reclaiming new land here and there, with great confidence and care. By examining, cataloging, archiving artists’ works, researching on film history, and creating new works, they dig out gems out of dirt. The ‘sovereignty’ of Indonesian film research, if we may use this word, is still hold tightly in Jakarta, instead of London, Singapore or Ithaca.
This will be their debut in mainland China.
Glimpse of Indonesia Short: After Reformasi
Art movements, issues and aesthetics in a country almost always intersect with the political dynamics that occur within the country itself. In Indonesia, the Reformasi period marked by the fall of Soeharto regime has became a new beginning in the independent practices in using the film medium. Since 32 years in power, Soeharto regime has repressively controlled various uses of the art medium to maintain its status quo. The fresh air of the Reformation period created a new climate that in the Suharto regime did not exist before, that is freedom of speech and freedom of expression as well as democratization of film production. These events allow the development of visual language and the discussion of various issues. One of the medium they choose to celebrate this freedom is to use short-duration films. The emergence of short films during the Reformation period was also accompanied by the easiness of recording motion pictures by using a video camera, so that the access to film production - especially short films - became very widespread by many people.
FOCUS ON ARKIPEL
The program that we will present at BISFF offered a glimpse of the freedom that has been occurred during the Reformasi until now. The choice of films refers to the significance of the theme, artistic achievements, and the diversity of issues that was raised, such as sexuality, collective trauma and social inequalities that occur in Indonesia.
Since its first existence in 2013, Arkipel - Jakarta International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival has always sought to interpret various global phenomenon framed in film medium that produced outside of industrial cinema. In reading those phenomenon, Arkipel does not only focus on contemporary social and political issues, but also sees the development of cinema as a medium of art that continues to evolve with the changing times. The readings of these phenomenon are outlined in curatorial writing formulated by various Arkipel curators. This phenomenon, which occurs in both the local and global domains, also influences the decision of the major themes that Arkipel carries every year.
Every year, Arkipel conducts film submissions that are open for filmmakers from all over the world. From thousands of films that are submitted, Arkipel tries to interpret the tendency towards what is the concern of filmmakers from various regions. The films in this program are films that managed to qualified the Arkipel submission selection from 2013 to 2019. In Arkipel we believe that film festival is a meeting between various people who have different cultural backgrounds to celebrate the diversity of cinema cultures that exist throughout the world, so we hope this program will be able to trigger a critical discourse on the development of contemporary cinema in the alternative territory.