Kidnapping Eisenstein

Eric Gunawan

Danial Rifki

Production Company
Acovado Studio



Batavia 1929. On the premiere night of Njai Dasimah, the director too late to realizes the attendance of SERGEI EISENSTEIN in his venue. Without leaving a comment, Eisenstein disappears from the movie theater and directly goes to Garut accompanied by a young Indonesian boy who will direct a horror films someday.

In his running away from his affliction in Moscow because of the coming of the sound film and the pressure of Stalin’s new regulation on film, Eisenstein finds the allure of the Dutch East Indies political movement especially after the second Indonesian Youth congress following the pledge they made in October 28, 1928. It is the reason why he just stays in Cibatu train station instead on following Charlie Chaplin’s advice for staying a few days in Garut.

However, his decision to visit several cities for capturing “the euphoria of the century” should find several obstacles not because the young Indonesian boy who will became a B-movie director finally found him again after he has been left alone in the way to Garut, but also Eisenstein unintentionally follows a stamboel group which he later finds out of having a secret political mission.

His allergic to any political movement forces Eisenstein to step back from the stamboel. However, the daily life with them bought him the nostalghia of his early life in Proletcult Theater. Especially when he finds out Bogdanov’s Tektology being applied in the group without being too suspicious of being catched by the Soviet Secret Service. Then, Eisenstein decides to stay for a while with them. In here, Eisenstein meets with the tomorrow Indonesian leading figures in arts and politics. All this experience contributes to reshaping his “intellectual montage” to the next stage.

In a peaceful and beautiful morning, in a terrace of Cibatu train station, two persons approach and kidnap him.

Director’s Statement

Hoax is an epidemic of communally constructed narratives. It is given birth by a noise of words. The Sophist recognized words as a powerful tool of persuasion used for educating the Ancient Greek citizens which was critized by Plato for the lack of knowledge and truth. A noise is getting louder in the open space. Since there is no boundary, every noise followed after another without letting each found its rest. It is a continous flow, and getting bigger as the tsunami of noise. It produces the society which is too boisterous to live in.

Fortunatefully, this film is not about hoax. For sure, it talks about a noise, however, for more precise, it is about a sound, a unity in diversity through cinematic sound.

In his 1945 essay Как я стал режиссером (How I Became a Director), wrote during his bedrest for recovering of his stroke, Eisenstein recollected “упоение эпохой” (the ideological euphoria) that transformed the New Soviet Land as well as constructed himself as a film director, “despite the declarations, and contrary to the banished term ‘creativity’, despite ‘construction’, bore one creative product after another.”

The October Revolution of 1917 was contributed to the latest political ideology such as Lenin’s democratic centralism, Bogdanov’s Tektology which was banned by Lenin in 1923, also, Trotsky’s permanent revolution and Stalin’s socialism in one country; as well as the discovery in natural and social sciences where cinema has taken its parts. Thanks to Lenin, it is by his instruction on using cinema as the educational media for building the new Soviet that enthralled Eisenstein in engaging his further cinematic achievement in theory and works.

Eisenstein was savoring the global euphoria of the century, while Stalin was struggling on implementing Lenin’s ideal of discontinuing the Russian values under tzar regime as well as on dictating his own in every aspects of Soviet life including arts. Eisenstein’s new approach on filming called “intellectual montage” received international recognition through Strike and Battleship Potemkin (1925) and at the same time confirmed his position as the avant gardist.

During the silent film, all noises that should be presented in the on-screen-space overwhelmed the off-screen-space. Thanks to the lack of sound recording on the camera was contributed to the establishment of the avant gardist language of film.

Nevertheless, the coming of the sound turned their world upside-down. The peace they have on the screen somehow trumbling down. The noise penetrates both the on- and the off-screen-space. Some were trying to protect the-on-screen-space from the noise, including Eisenstein, nevertheless their struggle was in vain on the growing of this new ecstasy.

In the autumn of 1929, Eisenstein together with his collaborator Gregori Alexandrov and his cameraman Eduard Tisse began their journey to Europe and America for learning the new invention on sound. This purpose was his only acceptable reason for leaving the USSR and all “the noises” of the Revolution. Stalin’s new regulation on film was contributed to Eisenstein affliction. It is arguable since he never produced a sound film during his journey, except a short Romance Sentimentale (1930) he refused to acknowledge as his.

This film is far from depicting Eisenstein’s official journey to Europe and America. Instead, it visualizes his possibility of visiting the paradise, the Dutch East Indies.

In here, the historical events following the second Indonesian youth congress in 1928 will meet the great figure in world cinema. The interpretation of “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” will be delivered in term of Eisenstein’s searching of his second stage of “montage”.

In summary, this is a film about running from the noise for discovering a true sound.

Eric Gunawan


ERIC GUNAWAN is a filmmaker and lecturer of the Faculty of Film and Television – Jakarta Institute of The Art (FFTV-IKJ). As the academician, he concentrates on the European political and cultural issues, with specialty on European and Russian film theory through psychoanalytic and semiotic approaches. His research has been presented and published for national dan international journal, name of a few: the 4th World Congress for Hallyu in Oxford, the IAFOR International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Dubai, the 4th Congress of the Asia and Pacific Network in French, etc. As a filmmaker, he works as a producer, director, and scriptwriter. Several awards and acknowledgments had been received from the National as well as the International Film Festival, including sponsorship from SACEM, and Canal French International, and being broadcasted in Arte-TV Germany and French.

Danial Rifki


Danial Rifki is an award-winning writer and director. His film Haji Backpacker (2014) was among Indonesian box office movies, and Tanah Surga Katanya (2012), his first feature as screenwriter won the Citra Award for best original story at Festival Film Indonesia 2012. His student film Anak-Anak Lumpur (2010) was a winner at Kyoto International Student Film and Video Festival 2010. Now he is producing commercials and future feature film projects.

Avocado Studio

Production Company

Avocado Studio is a creative producing team working for TV and Films. Their work ranges from TV drama, commercials, and feature films. Their latest work for Toyota Indonesia won Dolphin Award at Cannes Corporate Video 2016.