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Indonesia, 1986 (MIFF 1987, Women In Recent Indonesian Cinema)

Director: Teguh Karya


The book that you have already read,

I now begin to read

Newly, on the first page '

(epigraph to Ibunda from a poem by Rik A. Sakri)

Ibunda [Mother] is the most recent film by Teguh Karya, foremost contemporary Indonesian director, and co-founder of the Jakarta-based film and theatre collective, Teater Populer.

Set in contemporary Jakarta, the film interweaves two separate problems a widow is facing with her family. Youngest daughter Fitri and her boyfriend Luke are ostracised by elder daughter Ida and her nouveau riche Javanese businessman husband Gatot, because Luke Is Irian Jayan and not Javanese. At the same time, elder son Fikar has left his wife and child and is living with an actress. The film traces the mother's psychological and moral relations to her still immature family - she is the point where problems intersect or where problems are expected to be solved.

Ibunda has been praised in the Indonesian press for its control of nuance and its deftness in representing the manners and mentality of the Javanese middle classes, without imposing Western acting styles, behaviour or values. Issues in the film are explored at two levels: in the finely acted, fast moving, naturalistic family scenes; and in the stylistically different scenes of an expressionist folk opera, which Fikar performs in - and which clearly bears some deeper relations to the main story in its mother/son, husband/wife and mother/infant tableaux. The film is exceptionally rich in its simultaneous handling of filmic, theatrical and musical effects, and includes a fine performance by Tuti indra Malaon as the mother.

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