For the first time, an Indonesian film will kick off the Jakarta International Film Festival in December.
“Sang Pemimpi” (“The Dreamers”) is a sequel to Indonesia’s highest grossing movie of all time, “Laskar Pelangi” (“Rainbow Warriors”), and is currently in production.
Jakarta’s oldest international film festival has been ongoing for a decade now, but previously, foreign films always took opening credits.
Last year, “Burn After Reading,” a US film directed by the Cohen brothers, Joel and Ethan, opened the festival.
In 2007, the Indonesian feature “Perempuan Punya Cerita” (“Lotus Chant”), a compilation of four short films about marginalized women in the country, closed the festival.
“We think now is a good time to have an Indonesian feature to open the festival,” said festival manager Nauval Yazid.
He added that it was difficult to previously count on Indonesian films because information about the content of the movies and release dates were unreliable. It is only now that the standards of local films have become comparable to their foreign counterparts, Nauval added.
“Sang Pemimpi” is being made by the popular filmmaking duo of director Riri Riza and producer Mira Lesmana, who together have brought highly acclaimed features like “Gie,” “3 Hari Untuk Selamanya” (“3 Days to Forever”) and “Laskar Pelangi” to the screen.
Riri and Mira worked on the screenplay for the new movie, with scriptwriter Salman Aristo, who also wrote the screenplay for “Laskar Pelangi.”
“Sang Pemimpi” is adapted from the second novel in a series of four by Andrea Hirata based on the author’s childhood in Bangka-Belitung, a province off the east coast of Sumatra Island.
“Laskar Pelangi,” a best seller, was the first novel in the series. The movie version of the book, released in September 2008, has been seen by five million people locally and has had numerous screenings at international film festivals.
This year, the film was screened at the Berlinale, a film festival in Germany, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Singapore International Film Festival, Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy, the Barcelona Asian Film Festival and the Los Angeles Asia Pacific Film Festival. The movie also did an independent tour in Australia.
“Sang Pemimpi” is a continuation of “Laskar Pelangi,” and tells the story of an older Ikal, the central character of “Laskar,” who is now in high school.
Organizers say it is an achievement that the 11th Jakarta International Film Festival will finally open with an local feature.
The film festival, which screens both features and documentaries, has been attracting the biggest numbers for an international film festival in Southeast Asia since 2006. As many as 50,000 attend the event, which has become a favorite introduction for many directors.
In addition to film screenings, the festival also has master classes, workshops and exhibitions.