Seminar by Intan Paramaditha.
Recent publications on Indonesian cinema, both in English and Indonesian language, demonstrate an attempt in the past two decades to establish the field of film studies in Indonesia. I argue that formation of the field, mainly driven by young independent film scholars, should be situated within the changing landscape of cultural production after the fall of Suharto in 1998. Shaped by the narratives of the student movement and a wave of democratization that followed, a new generation of artists, activists, and scholars emerged and transformed the cultural fields – including cinema – with various kinds of cultural practice that project new ideas of nation and citizenship. Embracing a cosmopolitan worldview and an independent spirit of production, this generation rehearses what I call “the scenario of experiment” outside the confinement of the state and formal institutions in order to make cultural interventions.
Driven by experimentation, the field of film studies in Indonesia is fluid and transnational; it is characterized by a range of practice: amateur publications, close contacts between practitioners and critics, and transnational collaborations and affiliations particularly within Southeast Asia.
In this research I categorize 3 kinds of publication on Indonesian cinema. The first category consists of non-academic online journals, which are often tied to film communities and activism such as Rumah Film, Jurnal Footage, and Cinema Poetica. The second includes academic publications, mostly in English, that appear in special-issue journals and edited volumes such as the special issue on Indonesian Cinema in Asian Cinema Journal (published in Indonesia as Mau Dibawa Ke Mana Sinema Kita?). The first and second types of publications, despite their difference in terms of the academic affiliations, indicate cosmopolitan aspirations in terms of exposure and theoretical exploration, the creation of alternative spaces, and the attachment to the larger networks of cultural activism in Indonesia and Asia. However, the last category, consisting of publications sponsored by the government or NGOs, reveals a different trajectory as they show the inevitability of negotiations with the state as part of the process of institutionalization.
Intan Paramaditha is an Indonesian author and a lecturer in media and film studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.
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