top of page

Day 3, the Culmination of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival: Asia

Amelia Rosary

25 Sep 21 | 16:00

Heading 2

IDN Media Jogja 1_edited.jpg

Today, 25 September 2021, was the culmination of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival: Asia. Live-streamed on Sundance Collab, the first Panel Discussion, “Conversation with Sundance Film Festival: Asia Documentary Filmmakers Followed by live Q&A with Sundance Festival Programmers”, invited Sundance Senior Programmer Heidi Zwicker, Sundance Director of Programming Kim Yutani, some filmmakers R, such as Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (Writing With Fire), Natalia Almada (Users) and Debbie Lum (Try Harder!). “Rise of Vertical Cinema”, the second virtual Panel Discussion attended by Angga Anugrah Putra (Head of Operations at TikTok Indonesia), Jason Iskandar (Writer and Director), Salman Aristo (CEO of Wahana Kreator Nusantara, Producer, Writer, and Director), talked about an aspect ratio in films that wasn't only all about width and height and was live-streamed on TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia).

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival: Asia presented the Awards Night that honored Indonesian filmmakers, actors, and actresses, who made significant impacts on the industry through their prominent works. The Jury Prize for Best Short Film was also revealed today at the culmination night of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival: Asia on TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) live streaming. Today’s Virtual Screenings presented Luzzu/Malta and Users

1. Awards Night honoring 12 Indonesian film figures

Opening the Awards Night, William Utomo, the COO of IDN Media, stated, “Films are works of art emphasizing the values and emotions that we, as humans, have一very in line with one of IDN Media's core values, namely diversity and inclusion. Thank you for collaborating and moving forward together, to make the film industry around the world better, especially the one in Asia and Indonesia.” It was then followed by several agendas that finally took us to the Awards Night: a moment to celebrate the achievements and contributions that distinguished Indonesian actors, actresses, directors, and filmmakers made.

The Awards Night appreciated 12 film figures managing to bring the Indonesian film industry into the international scene. In the actors and actresses category, the names included in the list were: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Julia Estelle, Nicholas Saputra, and Christine Hakim. While in the director category, the names included: Edwin, Joko Anwar, Mouly Surya, Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel, and the two up-and-coming filmmakers, Wregas Bhanuteja and Aditya Ahmad.

2. The announcement of the Best Short Film!

The Best Short Film Jury Prize was revealed via TikTok (@SundanceFFAsia) live streaming. Over 160 submissions had been received, and the 10 finalists selected were: Black Winter (Noviandra Santosa), Diary of Cattle (Lidia Afrilita & David Darmadi), Goodnight, Stargazer (Adriano Rudiman), Jamal (Muhammad Heri Fadli), Makassar is a City for Football Fans (Khozy Rizal), Masa Depan Cerah 2040 (Winner Wijaya), Rendang of Death (Percolate Galactic), Rong (Indira Iman), Srikandi (Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto), and Sunrise in the Forest (Samuel Ruby).

However, after careful assessments and considerations by the jury of representatives from the Sundance Institute, IDN Pictures, Argo, and a Sundance Film Festival alum director, this year’s Jury Prize was awarded to Khozy Rizal's Makassar is a City for Football Fans. It told us about heteronormativity that still took root in nowadays' societies, where people held onto the assumption that being straight and cisgender was the ideal norm. Khozy showcased the social realities around him. 

3. An authentic story: universalities and moments resonating with many people

Sundance Senior Programmer Heidi Zwicker and Sundance Director of Programming Kim Yutani were joined by filmmakers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (Writing With Fire), Natalia Almada (Users) and Debbie Lum (Try Harder!) for a chat about documentary filmmaking. The filmmakers discussed their experiences when making their films. “It could take years to do research before crafting stories. Mine, it was 1.5 years. I’ve always believed that although labeled as documentaries, things like narratives, plots, techniques, and details are still needed,” said Debbie. “It’s a long way to go, so we need to give ourselves chances,” Rintu added.

Documentaries offered realities. That was why documentaries were often associated with thought-provoking elements. “It’s about getting back to the authenticity. We need to find a certain type of style and combine it with a meaningful story,” said Kim. The fact that film festivals could do such a great favor for rising filmmakers encouraged Heidi to reveal more, “We respond to compelling ideas, not those who are super experienced. We want these rising filmmakers to give us confidence even though the projects are not even fancy.  Here’s a tip: make a story rich with universalities, details, intimate moments that resonate with many people. Don’t set the target first, just help them relate.”

4. Innovations would be coming along with the rising of vertical cinema

The speakers invited, such as Angga Anugrah Putra (Head of Operations at TikTok Indonesia), Jason Iskandar (Writer and Director), Salman Aristo (CEO of Wahana Kreator Nusantara, Producer, Writer, and Director) agreed that many people started to explore the creative possibilities of tall screens. “Vertical works now enable us to have this new experience. We see films in a new format and it’s unique. That’s why TikTok is rolling out longer videos, 3 minutes, to its users,” said Angga.

Screen devices became more ubiquitous in our lives and physiology encouraged us to hold most mobile screens in a predominantly vertical orientation. “Now that many people will consume content on their mobile phones, this aspect ratio surely accommodates their preferences,” said Jason. Agreeing with Jason, Salman added, “Yes, there is this new preference and need due to the coming of this medium. Innovations to support this new ratio, I believe, are coming our way although we can never predict what the innovations may be.”

5. Luzu/Malta and Users were screened!

The first film screened was Luzzu. It told the story of the life of a Maltese fisherman, Jesmark, who worked so hard for his small family. One day, he was faced with two very confusing choices. First, repairing his leaking luzzu―a traditional fishing boat made of colorful pieces of wood―hoping to make a living at sea for his wife and newborn kid, just like his father and grandfather had done. Second, selling the luzzu, getting some money from it to join black market operations that exploited Mediterranean fish populations and risked the livelihoods of local families there. 

The second film, Users, was about the fact that technology increasingly drove all aspects of our lives. Humans, then, were increasingly moving towards "technopoly". Using visual essay documentaries, the film explored the unintended consequences of technological developments. The film got us wondering, "Is it true that technological progress will take us to a better quality of life?” or “Is technology an expression of our humanity? Or conversely, does technology actually destroy our humanity?”

bottom of page