Prolific Indonesian producer KawanKawan Media, which has Makbul Mubarak’s “Autobiography” in competition at the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons strand, has a raft of projects on its slate.
The company, led by Yulia Evina Bhara, scored a hat trick of wins at Locarno over the last few years with Yosep Anggi Noen’s “The Science of Fictions” (2019), Carlo Francisco Manatad’s “Whether the Weather Is Fine” (2021) and Ming Jin Woo’s “Stone Turtle” (2022), and won an award at CPH:DOX for Fanny Chotimah’s documentary “You and I” in 2020.
Noen’s “Gaspar,” which is set in the Javanese city Semarang in 2032 and is an adaptation of Sabda Armandio’s novel “24 Hours of Gaspar,” has just wrapped production. It stars Reza Rahadian, Shenina Cinnamon, Laura Basuki, Sal Priadi, Kristo Immanuel and Dewi Irawan.
Gaspar (Rahadian) is a dilettante detective working on a mass slaughter case involving the government, in which he encounters an informant who gives him a hint towards the mysterious disappearance of his childhood friend, Kirana, which points him towards Wan Ali, a human-trafficking crook. The film, a co-production between KawanKawan Media and Visinema Pictures, is next bound for the Busan Asian Project Market.
Noen, who is KawanKawan’s co-founder, is currently developing his new feature, the Bali-set “Jilah and the Man with Two Names,” where adventures on a dating app go awry. Writer-director Kamila Andini (Toronto winner “Yuni”) is on board as co-writer.
The busy Noen is also in post with documentary “Voice of Baceprot,” following the ups and downs of an all-girl metal band.
“Tiger Stripes,” by Malaysian filmmaker Amanda Nell Eu, is in post. In the film, an 11-year-old girl reaches puberty when her body begins to morph at an alarming and horrifying rate. In fear of being labeled as a demon, she struggles to maintain being normal at school.
It is produced by Bhara for KawanKawan, Fran Borgia for Akanga Film Asia, Singapore, Foo Fei Ling for Ghost Grrrl Pictures, Malaysia, Patrick Huang for Flash Forward Entertainment, Taiwan, Juliette Lepoutre for Still Moving, France, Jonas Weydemann for Weydemann Bros, Germany, and Ellen Havenith for PRPL, the Netherlands.
KawanKawan is in pre-production on “Tale of The Land,” the first feature from Loeloe Hendra, whose short “Onomastika” was a Berlinale selection in 2015. The film will follow May, a Bornean girl who is traumatized upon witnessing her parents’ death because of a land dispute. She incarcerates herself by living on a floating house in the middle of a lake.
In development is “Songsmith,” the first feature from cinematographer-director Bayu Prihantoro Filemon, whose short “On the Origin of Fear” premiered at Venice in 2016. Set in 1992 Jakarta, the film turns on Vero, the lead singer of Artis Safari Group, the government-backed singers’ collective, who travels extensively, canvassing votes for the ruling political party. At the height of her popularity, Vero witnesses her colleagues switch allegiance to the opposition party, and the political scenario intensifies.
“Stone Turtle,” starring Asmara Abigail and Bront Palarae, is on release.
“I like stories that are personal, specific, but also touches many things around me. I also like to work with fresh talents because you know, producing through filmmaking pipeline is technically a redundant process – it is fresh ideas and talents that makes every production unique and authentic, hence it gives me a bigger room to grow,” Bhara told Variety.
KawanKawan is seeking to develop projects from first-time filmmakers from Indonesia and Southeast Asia, in addition to working with its existing group of creative collaborators.
“Producing and working with first-time directors is always exciting because it allows you to work from scratch, expanding rooms for discovery. With a first-time director, it is not just about making the film, it is also about helping the director shaping their vision and creative personality,” Bhara added.