Tiga Dara (Three Maidens)

December 17, 2016

Title: Tiga Dara (Three Maidens)
Director: Usmar Ismail
Year: 1956 (Restored in 2016)

On December 17th, 2016, the Indonesian Film Forum and the Indonesian Consulate General in New York collaborated to present a special movie screening event at the Anthology Film Archives located at 32 Second Ave, NY 10003. The event featured the restored version of the classic musical film “Tiga Dara” (Three Maidens), directed by Usmar Ismail in 1956. Prior to the film screening, there will be a showcase of a restoration documentary that provides insights into the process of restoring this cinematic gem. 

Event Schedule:
1:00 pm: Restoration documentary presentation (35 mins)
1:45 pm: Screening of the restored film “Three Maidens” (Tiga Dara) (116 mins)

Usmar Ismail was a prominent Indonesian film director of his era, internationally known for his 1961 film “Fighters for Freedom,” documenting Indonesian independence from the Dutch and French. The film was entered into the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.

“Tiga Dara” premiered in August 1957 at the Capitol Theatre in Jakarta and achieved great popularity. It was screened for eight consecutive weeks in cinemas across the country, including first-class cinemas affiliated with the American Motion Picture Association of Indonesia (AMPAI), which primarily showcased imported films. The film received the Best Musical Arrangement award at the 1960 Indonesian Film Week. It was also shown in various cities in Italy, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, and Suriname in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

In 2015, the cellulose acetate negatives of “Tiga Dara” held at Sinematek Indonesia were extensively damaged, with torn sections and scenes affected by fungus or completely lost. To ensure the preservation of the film for future generations, SA Films arranged for the restoration of “Tiga Dara” at the Bologna-based L’immagine Ritrovata Laboratory. Restoration work, including the reinsertion of lost scenes using existing copies of the film and the removal of dust and fungus, began in early 2015 and was completed on October 8, 2015.

– Citra Dewi (Nunung)
– Bambang Irawan (Herman)
– Indiati Iskak (Nenny)
– Rendra Karno (Toto)
– Hassan Sanusi (Sukandar)
– Mieke Wijaya (Nana)
– Fifi Young (Grandma)

Cinematography: Max Tera
Production: Perusahaan Film Nasional (Perfini) Studio, SA Films (restored)
Language: Indonesian
Duration: 116 minutes
Color: Black and White
Genre: Musical Drama
Shooting format: 35mm; Projection format (restored): digital (DCP, MP4, MOV) with stereo sound

“Nunung, Nana, and Nenny are sisters living in Jakarta with their grandmother and widowed father, Sukandar. Concerned about Nunung’s age, the family strives to find her a suitable marriage partner. When Sukandar’s colleagues are invited to witness Nunung’s impressive singing and piano skills, they are genuinely impressed. However, the men are too old, and grandmother insists on finding a younger suitor. Nenny and Nana are also involved in introducing potential suitors, but Nunung remains distant and uninterested, resenting the attention. After a scooter accident involving Toto and Nunung, Toto begins visiting her regularly out of guilt. Initially rejecting his advances, Nunung finds Toto dating her younger sister. A series of comedic mishaps occurs, resulting in mismatched relationships and sisterly rivalry, leading Nunung to take a break from her family and stay with her uncle in Bandung. She sends a letter home that sparks jealousy in Toto, who travels from Jakarta to Bandung to finally declare his love.”

Indigenous Indonesian cinema began in earnest in 1950, soon after the country gained independence, with the establishment of new film companies. One of the pioneering figures, Usmar Ismail, founded Perfini Studios in the early 1950s with the goal of creating quality Indonesian films. Ismail’s films from the early post-independence years, such as “Darah dan Doa” (The Long March, 1950), “Enam Djam di Djogdja” (6 Hours in Jogja, 1951), and “Lewat Djam Malam” (After the Curfew, 1954), celebrated the revolutionary period while exploring moral ambiguities. Ismail’s most successful film, “Krisis,” has been lost, surviving only as a script. In 1955, he directed “Tamu Agung” (Exalted Guest), a satire on charismatic political leadership in Indonesia, despite the film’s humor being directed at President Sukarno. However, it performed poorly at the box office. “Tiga Dara” was produced to cover Perfini’s outstanding debts after “Tamu Agung” and other recent productions. Although it was intended to be a commercial film, deviating from Ismail’s general disapproval of such works, it achieved immense popular success, launching the careers of its stars and becoming a classic of Indonesian cinema. Ismail continued to make films with varying success until his death in 1971.

By 2015, the cellulose acetate negatives of “Tiga Dara” held at Sinematek Indonesia were severely damaged, with torn sections, fungus contamination, and lost scenes. The restoration process by L’immagine Ritrovata Laboratory began in early 2015, involving the removal of dust and fungus, reinsertion of lost scenes using existing film copies, and resulted in the restored version of “Tiga Dara” premiering in Indonesia in August 2016. The restored version featured a new soundtrack with covers of the original songs by contemporary artists.


Anthology Film Archives