History of Cinema in INDONESIA

Historical overview

The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; the islands were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence after Japan's surrender, but it required four years of intermittent negotiations, recurring hostilities, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to relinquish its colony. Indonesia is the world's largest archipelagic state. Current issues include: alleviating widespread poverty, preventing terrorism, continuing the transition to popularly-elected governments after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing reforms of the banking sector, addressing charges of cronyism and corruption, and holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations. Indonesia has been dealing with armed separatist movements in Aceh and in Papua.

History of cinema from 1896-2000

Indonesia knew of film production since the Halimun Film Company produced the Dutch East Indies when in 1927 the first Indonesian film entitled "Kesarung the Ape". Two Dutchmen Mr. F. Carli and Mr. G. Krouger in Bandung however produced this film. The first Indonesian film played by entirely Indonesian actors was "Terang Bulan" (Moonlight) produced in 1937 by a Dutch man. Later with the fasting growth of the film industry not a few drama actors came to play in Indonesian films and got involved in the whole progress of film production, either as actors, scripts writers and directors.

It was only after independence that the film industry could resume its operational after experiencing a standstill during the Japanese occupation in the Second World War. At that time major film enterprises were "Persari," "Perfini," and "Borobudur." There is also the State-run film production center (PPFN) assigned the task to produce documentaries and newsreels. During the Fifties, Usmar Ismail, widely regarded as the founding father of Indonesian cinema, produced and directed movies combining Western and Eastern themes. His movies are among the very classics of Asian cinema, also Djadug Djajakusuma and Wahyu Sihombing gained recognition in this period, sometimes called the golden age of Indonesian cinema.

After producing tens and even hundreds a year in 1980s and early years of 1990s, the national film enterprises produced only a few films a year in the last five years. Chief contributory factor to be substantial reduction in film production is prolonged economic crisis. The Seventies were marked mainly by two talented scenario writers, Teguh Karya and Wim Umboh. The Eighties revealed especially an excellent scenario writer, Slamet Rahardjo whose first film " Rembulan dan Matahari " (the moon and sun), presented in Nantes in 1980, was a very good discovery, but also Ismail Soebardjo, Sjuman Djaya, Chaerul Umam, Eros Djarot.

The few serious features that are now made, such as "Puisi Tak Terkuburkan", "Pasir Berbisik" and "Telegram" have to rely on foreign funding. The indie feature ""Kuldesak" made two years ago was inspirational to many and its four young co-directors are now getting things moving in the right direction. If Indonesian features are still in an iffy state, the situation is reverse when it comes to shorts and documentaries. Workshops and informal screenings have created a boom in expression, especially among the young and even in places far away from Jakarta. A country as fractured and pluralistic as Indonesia would understandably have loads of stories to tell, stories which would for the most part be sidelined by commercial cinema, and the more modest forms of film-making have rushed in to fill that void.

Cinema links from INDONESIA

E-Cinema Small film site holding some cinema related information
Indomedia Major portal to Indonesian news, offering film news
Jakarta International Film Festival Homepage of the annual Indonesian International Film Festival
Pusat Perfilman Haji Usman Ismail Homepage of the National Film Center
Suara Merdeka Online Newspaper featuring an extensive cinema section

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