Initially interested in the art of making documentary movies, director Kuntz Agus is about to release a more mainstream project. But he’s also planning a more serious film around a mysterious shooting in 1983.
Agus, who graduated from Gadjah Mada University’s veterinary school and cites Tim Burton and the Coen brothers as influences, moves back and forth between Jakarta and Yogyakarta. While he finds the former capital a more pleasant city to live in, a few more Jakarta movie festivals might change his mind.
You have a new movie coming out, ‘Republik Twitter.’ What can you tell us about it?
It’s a drama, a love story. Something light and pop-ish [laughs]. We are all aware of what Twitter can do to our social life; this is the basic idea of the film. It’s about how a man falls in love with one of his ‘followers,’ their interaction in no more than 140 characters and how they bring the relationship into the real world. Things on Twitter like trending topics, twit wars and other social phenomena are also explored.
Why should people watch this movie?
No comment. I am not the one who should pass judgment on my film [laughs].
What messages do you want to communicate, or questions do you want to answer, in your movie?
I don’t have any specific message to deliver in my film. I believe that a film in itself is an answer to the director’s question about certain subjects and values. I just want to tell a story, and I believe that the story also has to ‘find’ me. I don’t really care about whether the story has a background with an issue or not. I believe that it will deliver the message, and that every single audience member will get the message, but with different meanings.
How about the sound and the music?
I worked with some very talented young sound mixers and sound designer for ‘Republik Twitter.’ Khikmawan Susanto, as the sound designer, works with Auvarahma Triangga, as the sound mixer, while Krisna Purna composed the score. The theme song was composed by Ipang Lazuardi. I talked to him and gave him the script, and then he delivered us a great song, ‘Jatuh Hati’ [‘Fall in Love’]. Another is ‘Twitter Dunia’ [‘Twitter World’] by Potenzio, Both songs were released in January, before the movie. But since it’s a love story, I also picked one sad song, but rest assured, the ending is not a sad one. I hate sad endings [laughs].
How did you get started in making movies?
From 2003, I wrote articles about documentary movies and joined Komunitas Dokumenter [Documentary Community] as a Web master. I also did some graphic design as a part-time job to pay for my veterinary school place at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. Komunitas Dokumenter is a community-based organization that is behind the Documentary Film Festival. Over time, I also became the program director for the festival. Documentary film was my first love; I made documentaries as a producer and director. That was before I started my career making short fiction films, TV series and this feature film.
How does Yogya compare to the nation’s capital? Which one do you prefer?
I really have no plan to stay in Jakarta, I’m here just because I have to be [laughs]. I try to enjoy Jakarta as much as I can. The nightlife is very different to Yogya. It’s not as bad as what I thought it would be, but still, Yogya is much better. A city with a slower pace and a more laid-back lifestyle.
What is your hope for Jakarta’s movie community?
What could make the community grow, meet and share even more are festivals. Jakarta needs more festivals. We have some in Yogya, on a smaller scale then the annual JIFFest [Jakarta International Film Festival], and it works.
What are you thinking about doing next?
I’m thinking about a story from Petrus 1983 [a mysterious shooting in 1983], titled ‘Harimau Harimau’ [‘Tiger’]. I wrote the story in 2008; it was an action-thriller project. But I think it will be very hard to make it for commercial release. It will take time. Another project in development is a thriller about a shadow puppet master and Javanese mysticism. It’s a story about how an old, very sick man is willing to die on stage in his last wayang show.
Kuntz Agus was talking to Prima Desita.
Documentary Film Festival:www.festivalfilmdokumenter.org