Films on 1965 anti-communist stigma dominate awards at Purbalingga Film Festival

Wawasan – August 5, 2018
'Sum' wins best documentary film at Purbalingga Film Festival (Joko Santoso)
'Sum' wins best documentary film at Purbalingga Film Festival (Joko Santoso)

Joko Santoso, Purbalingga – A short film by a student whose family were victims of the 1965 anti-communist purge has won best fictional film at the 2018 Purbalingga Film Festival (FFP).

The awards were conferred on Saturday evening, August 4, at the Purbalingga Square.

The fictional film titled Against the Current (Melawan Arus) was directed by Eka Saputri and produced by the Kebumen 1 State Vocational School.

Facilitated by the Ministry of Education and Culture’s (Kemdikbud) Cinematography Development Centre (Pusbangfilm), the film tells the story of a man and wife defending their rights to their land despite being branded decedents of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Yono, the husband, has lost his spirit to defend the land which is being disputed with the authorities. He suggests to his wife Siti that they move. Siti however who is strong in her convictions remains living in the house squatting on the land. The 10-minute film researches a land conflict in Urut Sewu, Kebumen.

According to one member of the fictional film jury, Teguh Trianton, Against the Current succeeds getting viewers to explore the psychological aspects of the issue. “The film leaves viewers contemplating deeply and leaves behind questions the answers to which can be found outside of the film”, explained Trianton.

“We hope that our film can inspire viewers through the courage of community farmers in Urut Sewu in defending their right to land”, said director Eka Saputri.

The best documentary film category was won by the film Sum by director Firman Fajar Wiguna and produced by the Purbalingga 2 State Vocational School.

The 15-minute film tells the story of a woman named Suminah, a former Indonesian Peasants Union (BTI, affiliated with the PKI) activist. After being incarcerated in jail for 13 years, Sum lives in solitude. She continues to wait for things to take a turn for the better.

According to the documentary jury board’s notes, the film Sum was put together through selected esthetic pictures and a sequence of clear informational narratives.

“As an endeavor at visual communication, this film enriches the national historical language through a grass-roots perspective and the victims who were impacted upon by the excesses of political struggles at the national level”, explained one of the jury members, Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu.

The favorite fictional film category was won by the film Banner (Umbul-Umbul) directed by Atik Alvianti and produced by the Purwareja Banjarnegara Group Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) 2 Vocational School.

In the favorite documentary film category meanwhile, viewers sided with Unseen Legacy (Warisan Tak Kasat Mata) directed by Sekar Fazhari from the Bukateja Purbalingga State senior high school.

The Lintang Kemukus award for Banyumas Raya maestro of the arts and culture was awarded to R. Soetedja (1909-1960), a composer from Banyumas, and the Kamuajo Musical Group was awarded the Lintang Kemukus category of contemporary arts and culture.

Purbalingga regent Dyah Hayuning Pratiwi, SE, B. Econ who attended the high-points of the FFP event, said that the Purbalingga regency government is committed to supporting cinematographic activities and the film festival in Purbalingga.

“Aside from being an arena for friendly gatherings, cinematographic activities are also an arena to improve respective regency’s reputations and prestige”, he explained.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Film Tragedi 65 Raih Penghargaan di FFP 2018.]