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Q&A with Garin Nugroho

Garin Nugroho is a household name in Indonesia and is heading to Darwin as the Deckchair Cinema’s Opening Night guest of honour. The award winning filmmaker has two of his films screening at the Deckie this month – Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts and Nyau – A Woman From Java. Off The Leash had a chat with this movie legend about his flicks and the Indonesian film industry.

By Tamara Howie

Can you share more about the real-life experience you had that prompted you to write Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
When I was in Sumba, I saw a man carrying a human head in a plastic bag. He walked past the market. He wanted to go to the nearest police station. Beside that event, in 1994, I made A Letter to An Angel, shot in Sumba. This film is also about a woman being robbed and poisoning the robbers while eating. 


You handed the script over to Mouly Surya to direct – why was it important for this film to have a female director? 
This story focuses on women, and in many cases of robbery, women always become the victims. This film is about how a woman seeks justice in her own way in the village and about her survival and her compassion. Those kinds of feelings are more likely understood by women. So, a female director was important for Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts because she could present this story in more detail from women’s perspective.  

You directed the film Nyau – A Woman From Java, which was shot in one  take – what were some of the challenges? 
A single shot film is like a live theatre performance in the camera frame. It’s intense, complex and tiring. Small errors require a retake from the beginning to the end, from blocking to the sound recording. The actors get tired repeating the whole scene for 85 minutes. If there were any mistakes we were only able to retake three times a day and only had a budget for two days of shooting. It takes a well-planned concept, a detail of film elements and tough actors for this kind of film

What is unique to Indonesian filmmaking that Australians may not be  aware of? 
In the area of film, Indonesian government system is not strong yet, so filmmakers created their own independent system. Indonesia has a broad theme of the various social politics issues and diverse cultures of 17,000 islands. The culture of literacy is still weak, so the camera is a new visual equipment. We have a strong community culture which then grows the communities stronger, for example in Jogja there are 65 film communities.

Read more about how Deckchair Cinema unexpectedly planned an Indonesian Film Festival.

Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts | Wed 18 Apr | 7.30pm | Deckchair Cinema


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