×

Indonesia Selects Controversial ‘Memories of My Body’ as Oscar Contender

Memories of My Body,” directed by Garin Nugroho, has been selected to represent Indonesia at the Academy Awards in the international feature film category (previously best foreign-language film). The announcement was made Tuesday by actress Christine Hakim representing the Indonesian Film Selection Committee.

The fact-based film depicts the story of a young man from a dance troupe that performs Lengger Lanang, a folk dance from central Java usually performed in pairs, with men often taking both male and female roles. It is based on the real story of Rianto, a dancer who was abused as a child, explored masculinity and femininity while growing up, and endured traumatic experiences, discrimination and violence. Rianto himself plays the dancer as an adult and narrates the film.

It has proved deeply controversial with Islamic religious groups, which labeled it “deviant” and “promoting LGBT values.” It was banned in five provinces.

Despite that stigma, the selection committee said its decision was unanimous and praised the film, also known as “Kucumbu Tubuh Indakhu,” for its depiction of emotions. “It is out of the ordinary,” said Hakim. “Idioms in Indonesia are abundant, and the film introduced our rich culture, along with its strong message.”

Memories of My Body” premiered last year in the Venice Film Festival’s Horizon section, where it won the prize for best film, and was nominated for the Queer Lion prize. Its awards also include the Montgolfiere d’Or Award for best film at the Festival des 3 Continents in France and the Cultural Diversity Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. In partnership with the APSAs, “Memories of My Body” was also screened for UNESCO in Paris, in December.

Nugroho is one of Indonesia’s best-known art-house directors, and “Memories” is his second film to be selected to represent the country, after his 1998 title “Leaf on a Pillow.” Indonesia has selected films for Oscars contention most years since 1987. None has received a nomination.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • They Shall Not Grow Old restoration

    Peter Jackson Documentary 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Nabs Limited China Release

    The Peter Jackson produced and directed World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” will hit Chinese theaters on November 11. Though it will roll out nationwide, it will do so via the China’s National Arthouse Alliance, which has limited screens. The 2018 documentary puts together interviews with WWI veterans and more than 100-year-old [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    'Zombieland: Double Tap' Hopes to Recapture Raunchy Zombie Magic, 10 Years Later

    Audiences may have a few questions about the sequel to 2009’s hit “Zombieland,” which opens Friday. Why did it take 10 years to make a second one, after the first grossed $102.4 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, making it the third-biggest zombie movie of all time (second-biggest if you don’t count “Hotel Transylvania,” [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Sir Elton John poses for photographers

    Elton John Calls 'Lion King' Remake a 'Huge Disappointment'

    Elton John isn’t feeling the love for Disney’s latest live-action remake. In an interview with GQ U.K., the legendary musician criticized Disney’s remake of “The Lion King,” citing the film’s music as a “huge disappointment.” “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music [...]

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Jonah Hill Passes on Role in 'The Batman'

    After being offered a role in “The Batman,” Jonah Hill has moved on from the project. Why exactly Hill is passing is currently unknown, and insiders tell Variety that when the news was initially reported, it was very early in the negotiations and that a deal was far from closing. The news comes after Zoe [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Elizabeth Moss

    SCAD Savannah Film Festival Honorees Include Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss

    Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss, Danielle Macdonald, Aldis Hodge, Valerie Pachner, Samantha Morton, Sienna Miller, Alan Silvestri and Olivia Wilde are set to be honored at the 22nd Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Breakout Award honorees include Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jharrel Jerome, Mena Massoud and Camila Morrone. Macdonald, who appears on Netflix in “Unbelievable” and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content