Two weeks ago, I joined a movie seminar that was held in my campus by Communication Studies students. The seminar was literally called “College Cinema”, and as you’ve probably guessed.. it was all about watching and discussing short movies with the producer himself, Bayu Prihantoro Filemon. To be frank, my expectancy towards the seminar was ridiculously low; I thought we would only watch black & white movies about wayang. I was wrong. The 2-hour-long seminar interested me more than my 2-year worth of Business studies.
Bayu Prihantoro Filemon is a 31-year-old Indonesian cinematographer originated from Central Java (Jogjakarta). He looks exactly like your typical idea of how a movie producer should look like, with unruly hair, flannel shirts, goatee, and all. During the seminar, we got the chance to watch two of his short movies: On the Origin of Fear and Kitorang Basudara.
Kitorang Basudara tells the attempt of a young man from Papua in finding dormitory/housing for his brother. The movie showcases the racism that is still happening towards a certain race, even in Yogyakarta, one of the most tolerant cities in Indonesia. The young man undergoes difficulties in finding a dormitory that is willing to receive a freshman coming from Papua. Many of the dorm-owners refuse to accept his brother due to biased thoughts and prejudice regarding Papua men. People from Papua are depicted as brash or unethical by the Javanese people in the movie. The brother’s naive and genuine personalities get overlooked just because he comes from Papua. That’s just straight racism.
On the Origin of Fear is truly such a brilliant short movie. Although it only uses one character (played by Pritt Timothy), it’s still incredible. The movie, which takes place in the 1980s, is about Darto (Pritt Timothy) who has to do dubbing/voice over based on the characters in Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI film. Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI is a 1980s movie by Arifin C. Noer, which was used by President Soeharto as a propaganda to increase the hatred towards PKI, the communist party at that time. Every 30 September between 1980s to 1990s, Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI was broadcasted by the national TV programming. Indonesians, even those who were still in Primary schools, had to watch the whole film from the beginning to the end. On the Origin of Fear immutably brings the haunting memory of bloodshed brutality that was happening during Soeharto’s totalitarian regime in Indonesia. The brilliancy of the movie itself can be seen through Pritt’s acting — he voices both the oppressor (sergeant) and the oppressed (the party member) at the same time. To feel the agony of the oppressed, Pritt has to literally hurt himself by slapping several parts of his body. Most prominent quote from the movie is “Merah, Darah, seperti Amarah (Red, Blood, like Anger)”. The name of the movie itself, On the Origin of Fear, portrays Bayu’s own terror towards watching Pengkhianatan G30s/PKI every single year during his childhood.
For the people who keep degrading local movies, you really should change your mindset. Bayu’s movies are praised in international events, from Toronto to Venice film festivals. Impressive, isn’t it? During the movie discussion, I listened to a woman’s story about how she was extremely frightened when watching Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI movie, as she knew several innocent people who suddenly disappeared due to brutal killings during Soeharto’s regime. Bayu’s On the Origin of Fear reminded her of those unpleasant memory that truly happened right before her very own eyes. I myself only know the story about G30S/PKI from history textbooks.. I did not realize how incredibly horrifying Soeharto’s terror was to Indonesian people at that time. A student asked Bayu regarding the movie Kitorang Besaudara, “Why would you make the ending be so meaningless like that?”. Basically, this girl did not agree with the ending of the movie, which I thought was just fine. Bayu replied by asking back, “Why would you disregard the whole meaning and moral stories of the movie, just because you dislike the ending?“. Bayu talked eloquently and elaborated some movie scenes for the rest of the discussion; I could not help but stare at him as if he was a god.