Local biz gets some o’seas support

Private investments, low-cost digital spur rally

JAKARTA — A quartet of foreign-educated Indonesian filmmakers are among a group of directors spearheading a resurgence in production in their home country.

This new wave of talent is benefiting from growing private investment in films despite the rocky economy — and some are taking advantage of the low-cost digital medium.

Nia Di Nata, daughter of Indovision satcaster exec Dicky Iskandar Di Nata, has directed her first pic, “Ca Bau Kan,” based on a bestselling novel by Remy Sylado about an Indonesian woman married to an expat Chinese man. Di Nata, who studied film at New York U., says the budget was about $300,000 — relatively lavish by local standards.

Canadian-educated Indra Yudhistira has just wrapped “Jakarta Project,” a $30,000 digital thriller partly based on the true story of a 176-carat diamond that went missing in 1965. Producer Noella Riantono says the story involves a female investigative journalist and an agent from the U.S. National Security Agency.

Rudi Soedjarwo, who studied art in San Diego, made a teen film, “Bintang Jatuh” (Falling Star), using digital technology last year and followed that with “Tragedy,” also a digital movie, which sold a healthy 1,200 tickets in a five-day engagement at a prestigious 21 Group multiplex in Jakarta.

Next, Soedjarwo will leave the digital format to helm the $200,000-budgeted “Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?” (What’s the Matter With Love?) for producer Mira Lesmana, whose family film “Sherina” was a big hit last year.

And after studying for nine months in Japan, Harry “Dagoe” Suharyadi, made “Pachinko,” a detailed look at Japanese women from an Indonesian perspective. Pic, filmed in Japan, is Indonesian-produced.

Noting that some Indonesian businessmen are willing to invest in films despite the 12,000-1 rate of the rupiah against the U.S. dollar, Soedjarwo says investors believe well-crafted movies can be sound commercial prospects, as “Sherina” demonstrated.

Meanwhile the country’s most accomplished filmmaker, Garin Nugroho, is producing a drama called “Aku Ingin Mencium-mu Sekali Saja” (I Want to Kiss You Just Once), directed by Nugroho protege Asep. It’s a co-production with prolific telepic producer Multivision. In August, Nugroho himself will direct “Kemana Air Mata Ini Mengalir” (Where Will These Tears Flow?), another co-production with Multivision.

And Nugroho’s imprint on the local industry doesn’t end there: A blown-up digital film entitled “Pak Bendot Dan Surat-Surat-nya” (Pak Bendot and His Letters), directed by five of his proteges, will preem soon at Group 21 multiplexes.