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Garin Nugroho Sets Film With Christine Hakim, Continues Radical Path

Veteran Indonesian filmmaker, Garin Nugroho’s next film will feature acting doyenne Christine Hakim.

The untitled film is “about a woman who takes care of her son who dies. It is a monologue by Indonesia’s maestro over the dead body of her son,” Nugroho told Variety. The filmmaker was speaking at last week’s Singapore International Film Festival where he delivered a masterclass and received an honorary award.

Nugroho debuted in 1992 with “Love in a Slice of Bread” which received acclaim and awards. He achieved international attention for 2006’s “Opera Jawa,” a film commissioned for the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which portrayed an episode of the Indian epic “Ramayana” and featured Javanese classical music and dance.

The filmmaker is known for his subtle socio-political commentary in his films, and his quest for a New Indonesia. “That time has not yet arrived. It is a process and film is the medium to trigger the process,” Nugroho says. “Film is a statement where people can rethink their history and try to develop the future. I make film after film to try and trigger it. But everything is process itself.”

Another untitled feature that Nugroho is planning will be “critical of the political atmosphere in Indonesia nowadays, for example how corruption and bureaucracy in government and the system is getting worse and how justice will be very difficult to develop in my country,” Nugroho says.

Mouly Surya’s revenge drama, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” which is currently the toast of the festival circuit, is based on real events that Nugroho witnessed. But he chose not to direct the film himself. “The subject is that of a woman and I thought it best given to a woman director,” Nugroho says.

The volume of Indonesian film production is currently booming, but there is little appreciation for independent cinema. “We must develop small oases, communities, film festivals, and develop an audience for new alternative film,” says Nugroho. “A country or civilization without this alternative will be in ruins. Indonesia has become a mass audience. But if we don’t have this alternative perspective then the mass will become a vulgar society. And the vulgar society will become corrupt and violent.”

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