After the success of “Perahu Kertas” (“Paper Boat”), another book by Dewi “Dee” Lestari is coming alive on the big screen. This time, it’s her compilation of short stories “Rectoverso” that will be joining the cinema line up in Jakarta on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day.
Out of the book’s 11 stories, five have been adapted: “Cicak di Dinding,” “Curhat Untuk Sahabat,” “Firasat,” “Hanya Isyarat” and “Malaikat Juga Tahu.” Unlike other omnibuses that typically separate each short film, “Rectoverso” runs all five short films simultaneously.
At a media conference in Jakarta on Friday, producer Marcella Zalianty said that uniting all five short films into a feature-length movie is an attempt to make “Rectoverso” different from other films.
“ ‘Rectoverso’ tells stories about love unspoken,” she said, adding that she wants to unite this theme throughout the movie. “I think it’s something that is commonly found in our culture, because we don’t always speak about how we feel to each other.”
Actresses led the production of the stories depicted in “Rectoverso,” trying their hands at directing.
A story about long lost love is portrayed beautifully in “Cicak di Dinding,” directed by Cathy Sharon, an Indonesian actress who aspires to be a professional director. A previous film Cathy made was screened at the LA Lights film festival in 2011.
Model and actress Olga Lydia directed “Curhat Buat Sahabat,” which tells a story about two best friends who fall in love with each other, but not at the same time.
Actress Rachel Maryam Hadrat directed “Firasat,” about a club where people have a hunch that something bad is about to happen.
Five backpackers meet through a mailing list and decide to travel together in “Hanya Isyarat,” directed by actress Happy Salma.
And lastly, Marcella directed “Malaikat Juga Tahu,” a story about an autistic man who falls in love with a girl but cannot express what he feels.
Marcella chose those stories because she wanted the movie to represent the ways people perceive love in various situations. She said she also wanted to give actresses who are serious about directing a chance to build their skills.
“They are brave and wildly creative and I know that I am going to need these kinds of people,” she said of her fellow co-directors.
Before the shoot began, the five directors attended a mini-workshop on directing with Freedom Bull National Party (PNBK) chairman Eros Djarot, who won nine Citra awards for his film “Tjoet Nja’ Dhien.”
Marcella said the editing was the most challenging part of the post-production phase, because she wanted each story to stand on its own, while also feeling unified as a complete work.
The book “Rectoverso” was first published in 2008 as an experiment by Dee, who was formerly a professional singer, to release a book with a soundtrack. The book and the soundtrack can be enjoyed both together or on their own. Marcella said that having both components is the strength of “Rectoverso” as a creation.
While Dee herself was not formally involved in the “Rectorverso” movie, she spoke highly of the film.
“There are two sides of the coin that is ‘Rectoverso’ — a space to read and a space to listen to the music,” Dee said.
For Marcella, one of her main duties was to expand these complementary experiences of reading and listening into a movie. In the film adaptation, fans will be able to listen to the soundtrack while watching the stories.
Scriptwriter Ve Handojo, who wrote “Malaikat Juga Tahu,” said all the stories in the book “Rectoverso” are poetic, and emphasize a strong feeling that is not spoken.
“At first, it was difficult to expand the short stories, but in the end, it was hard to shorten the script,” he said.
To visualize the poetic mood in the script was quite difficult, given that there was a limit of 15 minutes for each story, Marcella said, adding that “Malaikat Juga Tahu” ended up running for 30 minutes.
While Marcella and Happy decided to be faithful to the story in the book, Rachel wanted to give her own take on the story she adapted. In the movie, “Firasat” has a different ending than the original story, Rachel said. She wanted to add an element of surprise to the film adaptation.
“Fortunately, Dee gave me her blessing to change the story, because she said she liked the twist,” she said.
Marcella praised Rachel, who is also an old friend of hers, as someone who is willing to go far to fulfill her imagination.
As for the message of the movie, Marcella said she wants viewers to see that there are many perspectives on love and no one is truer than another.