The film screening system in movie theaters is unfair. Every film is constrained to a certain period of time. It’s good if it can last on the screen longer but it won’t be longer than a few months. When art is supposed to be timeless, is film not seen as part of art? On the other hand, is it necessary to rewatch a film at a different time, especially in a movie theater? Is it necessary to have the same experience in different times?
Films are very important to watch again for a variety of important reasons. Starting from nostalgia, research, or more importantly to see how far humans, in this case the filmmaker, think and pour their thoughts into their film. Man grows out of his history. So do films. Memories that are then passed down can actually strengthen the future. For this reason, films need to be sustainable in order to answer questions about our roots, how far we have come and at the same time, what evidence there is for that. Imagine if we had never watched film A but some writing says film A is one of the best films ever? It’s hard to believe something that isn’t tested.
It is necessary because films will usually be made to use the latest forms of screening (which can be seen as technological development as well). So in optimum conditions, the film can reach its maximum audience. From there, we can also see changes in the audience’s thinking as time moves forward. That is why this Classics program is important even though the number of films is fewer than other programs.
Ratna Asmara is an important name yet her name is hard to find in Indonesian film history. Maybe it’s because there are so many historical records of Indonesian films starting from the era after Kuldesak, or maybe it’s that her name was scattered through random articles, or even lost to time. Long before the names we know today, Ratna Asmara was Indonesia’s first female director. The hard work of the Liarsip team later reintroduced who and what Ratna Asmara had accomplished. At JAFF 17, we have invited Liarsip to present and introduce Ratna Asmara and her film “Dr Samsi”. “Dr Samsi”, said to have been released in 1952, has been digitized as the earliest form of preserving the memory of Ratna Asmara and her films. It’s like most of our archives, the state and fate of which are unclear; maybe we will see scratches, not quite in its prime condition.
This year we are also screening two of Wong Kar-Wai’s internationally acclaimed films, “In the Mood for Love” and “Chungking Express”. Last year we actually invited these films, but the opportunity to meet the audience in person is finally arriving in the 17th edition. Not a big deal. The important thing is meeting the audience. For several generations of people, these two films have only been watchable on the smaller screen. It’s a shame because it’s much more ideal to watch them on a big screen, in a movie theater. This is a rare opportunity for film lovers and cinema fans worldwide.
So should we watch these films? The answer is simple and unequivocal: yes!