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Message from Jogja’s Filmmaker

Jogja is currently one of the barometers for the growth of the film industry in Indonesia, even in recent years several Jogja films, both short and feature films, have been selected by the world’s top international film festival circuits such as Cannes, Venice, Berlinale, and Locarno. I use the term Jogja film because the director is from Jogja or has lived and worked in the film industry while living in Jogja or the production house is from Jogja. Discussing the current development of the film industry in Jogja, we need to go back to the early 2000s when Jogja at that time had more than 100 film communities, kine clubs and independent production houses, for example, Four Colors, KBBF (Learning Group to Make Films), Limaenam Films, Lajar Tantjap, Bulldozer, MM kine Club, De Javu, X-Code, and Komaroll. These film communities are both campus-based and non-campus-based, some campuses that contribute a lot of filmmakers include ISI, UGM, UMY, Atmajaya, MMTC and Akindo.


The majority of members of these communities or film production houses never received formal film education because there was no film school in Jogja at that time. The Indonesian Art Institute, which has a recording media art faculty, cannot even be called a film school. They mostly learned by doing and sought references from foreign films using pirate vcd or rentals, two of which are very legendary, Universal and Sketsa Sinemadeus.


The absence of a film funding scheme from the government or the private sector at that time was not a barrier for young filmmakers to work. Counting on their spirit of togetherness and trust in each other, many no-budget films or films with minimalist budgets were successfully produced. Many also ventured to register their films in festivals at the local, national or international levels. For example, Fourcolors, which was commanded by Ifa Isfansyah and Eddie Cahyono, produced their first film, “Between the Past and the Present”, which was awarded Best Film at the Indonesian Independent Film and Video Festival. Moreover, the short films they produced were then often circulated at international festivals such as IFFR Rotterdam, Oberhausen, and Hamburg.


This certainly fueled other film communities to be more active in producing films. The resulting films have not only been watched by members of the community themselves but they had the foresight to hold exhibitions and invite other communities to watch the films together and have discussions. Of course, it was not easy, because more money had to be spent and I had to be mentally prepared to accept criticism from other community members. I think some of them have “razor sharp” mouths. This is certainly a mental exercise and a means for evaluating and reflecting on their work so that later better work can be created.


Two film communities that regularly screen and discuss films are KBBF and Rumah Sinema and this has made the members of these film communities, who initially only knew each other by name, become personally acquainted. The film screening and discussion activities were not only open to fellow film enthusiasts but also academics or artists who provided intellectual, cultural and artistic knowledge. Luckily in Jogja, there are many well-known campuses and their academics are generous with their knowledge. Yosep Anggi Noen from Limeenam Films, for example, invited UGM academic, Budi Kazeth to provide insight into the screening of his film.


Film discussions in Jogja are rich with intellectual and artistic content, technical matters are rarely mentioned because for them technical issues are easier to learn than studying discourse. The existence of a strong theatre and music community in Jogja also benefits the film community because they can synergize and collaborate in making their artwork. Short films from Jogja also raise many local stories but are able to carry universal values, so audiences from other parts of the world can also enjoy them.


Jogja, which is geographically not too big, also has an advantage for its filmmakers because they can easily visit each other for “ngangsu kawruh” (learning) or simply gather and share ideas/experiences with each other at meetings, for example at Kinoki or festival events such as FFD.

The presence of the first JAFF in 2006, after the earthquake in Jogja, further solidified the film communities, because many film communities in Jogja were involved and worked together in the implementation of JAFF. JAFF has also become an important showcase for Jogja films and a festival that provides references for quality Asian films.


Years have passed, and many film communities have disbanded as members graduated from their universities and returned to their hometowns. Several communities and film production houses have survived to this day, for example, Fourcolors, Limaenam Films and Lajar Tantjap. They started by producing short films and then developed into producing feature films, which have since been widely circulated on Indonesian cinema screens or at the world’s top festivals. The next generation of filmmakers emerged, for example, Fajar Nugros, Ismail Basbeth, Yudha Kurniawan, Fajar Martha, Eden Junjung, Sidharta Tata, Agni Tirta, Khusnul K Hitam, Makbul Mubarak, Loeloe Hendra, Wahyu Utami ore even younger like, Reza Fahriansyah, and Wahyu Agung.


Some of the names above are also alumni who received the Privilege Fund (DANAIS) film funding scheme from the Yogyakarta Provincial Government. This funding is certainly very helpful for Yoygakarta’s filmmakers so they can properly produce short films and learn about good film production management because during production they are accompanied by supervisors who are all seasoned film professionals. This DANAIS funding scheme can at the same time help filmmakers make good film portfolios so that they can be equipped to seek film funding at the national or international level. JFA (Jogja Film Academy) also makes it easier for today’s young generation to study film formally taught by film professionals from Yogyakarta who can share knowledge and experiences in a more structured manner considering they have been active since the early 2000s. 


The film infrastructure in Jogja is now quite complete, starting with education, and production, to exhibition and appreciation. Perhaps the distribution line is the only area still lacking. The existence of the digital world today makes it easy for filmmakers to have direct contact with existing distribution systems, both at national and international levels, both for online platforms and conventional distribution through cinema networks.


Today, we can say that Jogja is reaping the rewards of the film movement that started in the early 2000s. The movement, which was initially community-based, and armed with strong social capital, then grew organically and was supported by academics and artists, and finally received support from the local government of Yogyakarta. Hopefully, this movement can also be duplicated or replicated in other regions so that Indonesian cinema can continue to grow.


Thank you.


Dwi Sujanti Nugraheni

Dwi Sujanti Nugraheni

Jogja’s Filmmaker