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Indonesia, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Garin Nugroho

A young boy, full of fear and fascination, covertly watches as his mother performs for an unseen admirer A shot is fired and lives are scarred. Awesome in its intensely erotic, seductive grace, the opening sequence of Garin Nugroho's (Letters For an Angel MIFF 94) third feature is a dance with memory, desire and death, and its hypnotic magic echos throughout the film.

Halang (the boy now a young man), an aspiring composer, arrives at a Central Javanese School of traditional arts and is drawn into the disciplined creative regime of Waluyo, the aged teacher/master of song, and another of his young pupils (or is she more than that?), the dancer Bulan. In this world of mesmerising gamelan music and Bedoyo Pasupati dance there is little room for any other obsessions that may feed just below the surface Halang, haunted by the forces of his childhood, gravitates toward the mysterious Bulan with her near masochist abdication of will in the service of her art and her teacher. The growing attraction between the two students threatens to destroy the gentle balance of things-their serenity and sanity.

Indonesia's most interesting contemporary filmmaker, Nugroho is at complete ease mixing his complex cultural and psychological meta­phors to challenge and confound his audience Just when you feel you know where you stand he deftly sweeps aside the curtain of Eastern exoticism to leave you uncomfortably spotlit in the glare of your own cliched expectations (ah)

See also...


... ... Garin Nugroho's directorial debut, Love on a Slice of Bread, is one of the most unusual films ever made in Indonesia; a modem love story which has a new psychological complexi­ty for ... More »


The story of three young people lured into a radical Islamic organisation. ... Crisscrossing between the stories of Rima, a dynamic recruit whose ambition is soon thwarted by Islamic convention; the ... More »


Garin Nugroho's evocative feature, Letters For An Angel, was shot on Sumba, one of the chain of islands in the Nusa Tenggara group, stretching from Bali to Timor. The film mixes documentary and ... More »


An epic musical drawing on the tradition of Javanese theatre, dance and music, Opera Jawa comprises multiple dance troupes and a cast of hundreds. Husband and wife Siti and Setyo are both former ... More »

Water and Romi

... ... Made on video for an environmental semi­nar (the International seminar on Water) held in Jakarta by the Goethe Institute in December 1991, this film has subsequently won prizes at ... More »

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