We’re Comin’, Sundance
A scene from the movie ‘Killers.’ (Photo courtesy of Merantau Films)
In a new boost for Indonesia’s movie industry, local productions “The Raid 2: Berandal” and “Killers” were selected to be screened at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah. The recent selection marks the second time Indonesian movies will participate in the prestigious independent film festival, following Mouly Surya’s “Don’t Talk Love,” which premiered and competed in the World Dramatic section earlier this year. The next edition of the 10-day film festival will kick off on Jan. 16.
Both films have grabbed their fair share of attention since they began production last year. “The Raid” first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, before it was selected for Sundance’s Spotlight section last year. Producer Maya Barack-Evans said that the opportunity to have a world premiere at Sundance was a huge privilege. Compared to Toronto’s action aficionados, Sundance viewers mostly consist of fellow filmmakers and critics, who may very well begin to consider Indonesia a potential new market for films.
Directed by Gareth Evans, “The Raid 2: Berandal,” continues its story with the remaining characters from the first installment. The movie wrapped filming in July and is currently in post-production.
“The world premiere at Sundance is on January 21, and it opens in Indonesia and the United States in March,” Maya said on Thursday.
“The Raid 2: Berandal” will also be shown in Canada, Britain, South Korea, China and some parts of Europe and Latin America.
“Killers,” on the other hand, is a co-production between Indonesia’s Guerilla Merah Films and Japan’s Nikkatsu production company, and is directed by The Mo Brothers, an up-and-coming filmmaking duo consisting of Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel.
The film stars Oka Antara (from “Sang Penari”) and prominent Japanese actors Kazuki Kitamura and Rin Takanashi.
Maya’s Merantau Films is also supporting the making of “Killers.” Maya said she was glad to see that both productions were chosen to hold their world premieres at Sundance. “Killers” will be showing at Sundance’s Park City as part of the Midnight program on Jan. 20.
The film follows Nomura, a successful executive in Japan who is also a serial killer with a penchant for spreading videos of his killings on the Internet. In an unlikely event, Indonesian journalist Bayu (Oka Antara) sees these videos and begins to find meaning in himself.
Kimo said they had already set the date for the thriller’s release; it opens in Japan on Feb. 1 and in Indonesia on Feb. 6.
“We were going to release ‘Killers’ in Indonesia last October, but people at Sundance said if they were going to pick our film, they would prefer to be the venue for a world premiere,” he said.
Director Gareth Evans gives instructions to his cast on the set of ‘The Raid 2.’ (Photo courtesy of Guerrilla Merah Films)
The gamble paid off for the Mo Brothers, who broke through in the film industry with the release of their first movie, “Rumah Dara” (“Macabre”) in 2009. As an Asian filmmaker, Kimo said it was an honor for him to be accepted at a well-respected film niche such as Sundance.
“Sundance is like an indie film movement,” he said. “I feel that [in Sundance] you are going to see American culture in a real sense.”
Sundance, which was founded in 1978 as an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah, has grown into one of the largest independent film festivals in the US. With actor Robert Redford as chairman, many notable filmmakers had their first big break at Sundance, including Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh and Jim Jarmusch.
The festival has also helped bring wider attention to indie films like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Garden State,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “(500) Days of Summer,” all of which may not have been as successful without the exposure from Sundance, making it a great stepping stone for Indonesian directors to enter a global stage.
Kimo has already announced that after Sundance, he looks to focus on projects that are appealing to international audiences as market expansion is the only way he wants to create films.
“We cannot make films that are too localized because the infrastructure of our film distribution doesn’t grow as fast as filmmakers,” he said. “Films from South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong really excel at this.”
Indonesia currently has about 900 movie theaters. Kimo predicts the number will grow to around 1,000 by next year. While rising steadily, it is still low compared to other markets in the Asian region. Charts Bin reports there are more than 3,000 theaters in Japan, and more than 1,800 in South Korea. China is the biggest market in Asia, with more than 36,000 movie theaters, while the United States has more than 40,000.
Kimo is currently writing the second draft of “24 Jam” (“24 Hours”), a movie about a zombie outbreak in Jakarta. For his latest venture, he will be flying solo, as his partner Timo will be directing with Evans on the action flick “The Night Comes for Us,” starring Joe Taslim (“The Raid,” “Fast and Furious 6”).
For Timo and Evans, the upcoming visit to Sundance is a quick return after their short “Safe Haven,” which was part of the compilation “V/H/S 2,” and was also screened at Sundance’s Midnight section this year. Timo said he was on the same page as Kimo in terms of making movies for an international market. After “Rumah Dara,” the Mo Brothers waited three years to finally work on their second movie, so they naturally need a bigger market to survive.
“If we only have a few thousand viewers for our film, we will never be able to convince our future investors,” he said. “It has to go international to survive.”
By Lisa Siregar - The Jakarta Globe