Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sang Pemimpi

Last night I saw a wonderful Indonesian film at the opening of a South East Asian film festival at the ARC theatre.  (phew! what a mouthful!).

The film Sang Pemimpi, is the second part of a trilogy based on the very popular books about growing up on an island off Sumatra, by the Indonesian writer Andrea Hirata.  While the books were set in the 70s and 80s there was much that reminded me of the Indonesian villages I saw in Sulawesi last year - the markets (pasar), the school (sekolah) and the mosque (masjid).

It was a delightful story about boys in high school and their dream to go to Paris to study.  Despite some distractions, the two main characters Ikal and Arai did eventually make it there.  The film's title translates as The Dreamer, and refers to Arai who was always encouraging his friends to dream and then working hard to deliver their dreams to them.  This was in the face of losing all of his family when only still a child.  Did I say it was a lovely film? one I think that reflects the humility and optimism of many Indonesians today.

The director Riri Riza, and the producer, Mira Lesmana, attended the screening, and took questions from the audience.  I was taken by a comment from Riri, that when they had screened the film in Europe, a common response was that the film was very nostalgic, and I had to agree.  It captured something of simpler times, when the small things people did had huge effect,.

In the opening scenes when we see Ikal's father riding a squeaky bike on a lonely road.  Later in the film we learn that this scene was repeated each year, when the father travelled from his village to the school to collect the school reports, handed out in order of achievement.  Ikal called him the no 1 father, who did this year after year, only to stop, congratulate his son briefly, then head back off on his bike.  It was even more poignant the year that Ikal's grades dropped, and he only did that once.

Aku senang sekali yang aku melihat bioskop ini.

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