Italian Premiere | Out Of Competition | PART 2 - A/B side VIBES. Greatest Hits from ‘80s & ‘90s


Guest star:
Riri RIZA, director
Mira LESMANA, director 
Rizal MANTOVANI, director


Kuldesak is the film that marked the rebirth of Indonesian cinema. By the 1990s, the archipelago’s once hugely prolific film industry had practically died out, and was producing only a handful of titles a year while cinemas closed down, video piracy took over and producers, directors and crew went to work in the production of the local TV soap operas known as sinetron. Inspired by the American independent and genre cinema of the day, by auteurs such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, David Fincher and Kevin Smith, and by iconic films such as Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, Roger Avery’s Killing Zoe and Dominic Sena’s Kalifornia, a handful of young cinephiles and aspiring filmmakers joined forces to transfer that composite vision to Jakarta and give the Indonesian public a film that would restore the country’s zeitgeist at the end of the long decades of General Suharto’s dictatorship and the dawn of Indonesia’s integration into economic and cultural globalisation, with all of the many attendant contradictory tensions.

Making use of funding from the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Mira Lesmana, Nan T. Achnas, Riri Riza and Rizal Mantovani, under the name of Day for Night Films and assisted by a collective of young actors and technicians, wrote and directed a feature film in which four stories that reflect the dreams, aspirations, frustrations and nightmares of the young people of the time are intertwined.

Symptomatically, the backdrops to the four stories are all locations emblematic of the metropolitan landscape of the late nineties: a cinema located in a shopping centre, a rental shop for laser discs (a now forgotten format), an underground concert hall and a modern corporate office. Against these backdrops the stories of Dina (Oppie Andaresta), a cinema cashier in love with television idol Max Mollo (Dick Doank) and who observes the gay couple who have moved into the apartment opposite hers, San (Wong Aksan), son of the shop’s owner who, with his friend Din (Tio Pakusadewo), fantasises about making a low budget film in the vein of Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi, Andre (Ryan Hidayat), a fan of Kurt Cobain for whom prophetic tramp Hariolus (Iwa K), who he met at a minimarket before a concert, prophesies an important turning point in his life, and Lina (Bianca Adinegoro), an employee at a large company who undergoes an extremely unpleasant experience, play out.

Aided by a rich and varied soundtrack that evokes the diverse range of music young people were listening to at the time, including obvious grunge influences and more melodic pop, Kuldesak is a multifaceted film full of youthful energy and enthusiasm, and despite its imperfections – its occasionally naive and uncertain screenplay – it remains a breath of vital and renewing air. In the way it evokes the thrills and loneliness of being young at that time, Kuldesak is a courageous testimony, touching as it does upon such delicate topics as gender violence, male homosexuality, depression and suicide.

It is therefore no coincidence that the four directors of the film later confirmed themselves as leading figures in the new season of resurgent Indonesian cinema for which Kuldesak symbolically set the tone. Mira Lesmana and Riri Riza formed a producer/director partnership that created several huge hits such as Sherina’s Adventure (2000), The Rainbow Troops (2008) and its sequel The Dreamer (2009), but also important “social issue” films such as Eliana, Eliana (2002), Gie (2005) and Atambua 39° Celsius (2012).

Nan T. Achnas has pursued a consistent career in arthouse cinema with three feature films – Whispering Sands (2001), The Flag (2002) and The Photograph (2007) – screened at many international festivals. Rizal Mantovani, meanwhile, dedicated himself to genre cinema, finding huge success in particular in the horror genre.

Paolo Bertolin
Film director: Mira LESMANA, Nan T. ACHNAS, Riri RIZA, Rizal MANTOVANI
Year: 1998
Running time: 103'
Country: Indonesia
26/04 - 5:10 PM
Visionario, Via Asquini 33
26-04-2024 17:10 26-04-2024 18:53Europe/Rome Kuldesak Far East Film Festival Visionario, Via Asquini 33CEC Udine cec@cecudine.org