Indonesian Film Screening and Roundtable Discussion: Candra Aditya’s Dewi Goes Home

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Indonesian Film Screening and Roundtable Discussion: Candra Aditya’s Dewi Goes Home
Stream: Cinema Studies/Film
Presentation Type: Roundtable
Authors:
Richard Fox, University of Victoria, Canada (organizer, roundtable-chair)
Verena Meyer, Columbia University, United States (discussant)
Rosalia Namsai Engchuan, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany (discussant)
Candra Aditya, Carnival Films, Indonesia (discussant)
Thomas Barker, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Malaysia (discussant)

Abstract:

Candra Aditya’s short film Dewi Goes Home (Dewi Pulang) follows a young Javanese woman as she travels back to her native Yogyakarta to help prepare funerary rites for her father. In 18 minutes of studied realism, and closely observed dialogue – in Indonesian, Javanese and English – Candra’s film explores a profound disjoint between two worlds—as Dewi leaves the fast-paced extroversion of Jakarta for the slower rhythms and familial obligations of Javanese home life. Following a brief screening, the roundtable will discuss a range of issues pertaining to the film, with feedback from the filmmaker himself, who will be joining the conversation. Verena Meyer will raise a series of questions pertaining to the film’s depiction of the finality of death, exploring the unresolved tension between traditionalism and secular modernity as embodied in Dewi’s role in the funerary preparations. Richard Fox will focus on the shifting associations of language, as Dewi and her interlocutors speak in various forms of Indonesian, Javanese and English. He will argue that the film deploys language – as a mode of articulation and embodiment – to exemplify the various ideals and aspirations that characterize the worlds through which Dewi is moving. Providing context on the filmmaking process, Rosalia Namsai Engchuan will examine the film as the product of a complex ecosystem, tracing the contours of film production through off- and online distribution, extra-institutional film education, state support and censorship, and the circuit of international film festivals. Thomas Barker will develop this line of enquiry further by examining the film as a window onto Indonesia’s rapidly evolving mediascape, where online platforms and related modes of circulation are now deeply embedded. He will argue that the world of online cinema comprises a new frontier for contentious, innovative and challenging work—but also a platform for aspiring filmmakers to get noticed and break into the mainstream. As such, it necessitates rethinking traditional models and ideas of cinema and what it means for a film to be ‘indie’, or independent. Finally, as the film’s writer and director, Candra Aditya will respond and engage in conversation with the audience.