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New York City once again played host to the highly anticipated Indonesian Film Festival NY (IFFestNY) as it celebrated its third year of showcasing the best of Indonesian cinema. The event, which took place from September 6th to 7th, 2019, treated audiences to an array of captivating feature films and short films, providing a platform for Indonesian filmmakers to showcase their talent and creativity.
The festival kicked off on Friday, September 6th, with an exciting lineup of award-winning short films. Audiences were treated to screenings of two exceptional films: “A Gift” (Kado) and “On Stopping the Rain” (Sepatu Baru). “A Gift,” directed by Aditya Ahmad, had previously won the Best Short Film award at the Venice International Film Festival 2018 and had also been screened at Sundance. The film tells the story of Isfi, who navigates the complexities of friendship and acceptance as she prepares a special birthday gift for her friend Nita. Meanwhile, “On Stopping the Rain” explores the determination of a young girl living in a slum area as she tries to overcome the obstacle of incessant rainfall to wear her brand-new shoes.
Following the short film screenings, attendees were treated to the premiere of the short documentary “How Far I’ll Go” (Sejauh Kumelangkah). Directed by Ucu Agustin, the documentary tells the inspiring story of Andrea and Salsabila, two visually impaired childhood friends who are now teenagers living in different countries, the USA and Indonesia. Both girls share the common dream of gaining independence to pave the way for a brighter future.
The festival continued on Friday evening with the screening of “Aruna and Her Palate” by director Edwin. The film follows Aruna, a passionate epidemiologist with an unwavering love for food. Together with her friends, the talented chef Bono and food and travel writer Nadezhda, Aruna embarks on a journey to investigate cases of Avian Flu across various Indonesian cities. As they explore the local cuisine, the film delves into themes of culture, religion, and politics, providing an insightful and entertaining experience for the audience.
On Saturday, September 7th, IFFestNY presented two more captivating films. “The Seen and Unseen” (Sekala Niskala), directed by Kamila Andini, tells the poignant story of Tantri, a young girl who realizes that her twin brother Tantra’s time is limited due to his deteriorating health. Tantri finds solace and embarks on a magical journey through her dreams, where she dances and explores her emotions, blurring the lines between reality and imagination.
The festival concluded with a screening of “Leftovers” (Turah) by Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo. Set in Kampung Tirang, the film portrays the struggle of the villagers against a system that keeps them oppressed and fearful. Turah and Jadag, two individuals filled with hope and optimism, challenge the status quo and strive to break free from the shackles of their circumstances, embodying the spirit of resilience and determination.
As a special addition to the lineup, the festival showcased “Foxtrot Six” by director Randy Korompis. Set in a world grappling with the consequences of escalating climate change, the film tells the story of six former marines who must unite to save their country from a ruthless political party and prevent a government-sanctioned genocide. “Foxtrot Six” blends action and drama to create a gripping narrative that explores themes of redemption and sacrifice.
Throughout the festival, attendees had the opportunity to engage with the filmmakers and cast members through post-screening Q&A sessions, enriching the overall experience and fostering a deeper understanding of the films and their underlying themes.
IFFestNY’s third annual Indonesian Film Festival NY 2019 was a resounding success, showcasing the diverse and vibrant landscape of Indonesian cinema. Through its carefully curated selection of films, the festival provided a platform for filmmakers to share their stories with an international audience, further cementing the cultural exchange between Indonesia and the United States.