Creativity Takes Center Stage
    Category: Column By : Taufik Darusman Read : 246 Date : Monday, April 09, 2018 - 23:50:23

    Indonesia’s best kept secret may be its remarkable creativity—contributing over 7% to the GDP. In 2016 Indonesia’s creative forces produced Rp 922 trillion worth of goods and services, up from Rp 852 trillion in 2015. Triawan Munaf, head of the state-run creative economy body Bekraf, noted that in the past three years the figure has annually risen by a whopping minimum of Rp 70 trillion. He expects last year the figure may hit the Rp 1 trillion mark.

    The creative economy is also providing much-needed jobs in a country where seven million of its 125 million-strong workforce are unemployed. In 2016 some eight million Indonesians were involved in the creative economy—over 65% in Java—mostly in the culinary, fashion and crafts subsectors. The figure should rise significantly as new players produce animation films, apps and games.

    International recognition was given to Kamila Andini’s “Sekala Niskala” (the seen and unseen), winning the Grand Prix from the Generation KPlus International Jury for the best feature-length film at March’s Berlin International Film Festival 2018. It is the first Indonesian film to receive a grand prix at a prestigious film event, with the jury citing Kamila’s “poetic cinematic vision.”

    The award came on the heels of “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts,” by director Mouly Surya, garnering an award last year at the NETPAC Five Flavours Film Festival in Poland as well as being only the second Indonesian film shown at the Cannes film festival in its 70-plus year history. Marsha Timothy was chosen as best actress in the same film last year at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in Spain. No mean feat for a country traditionally shunned by film festivals outside Asia.

    In Bekraf’s portfolio are sixteen subsectors, with filmmaking ranked highest in growth terms at 11%.  As evidence, moviegoers have risen from 16 million in 2015 to over 42 million last year, says Munaf, as well as about 40 films being churned out each year. Thanks to a new ruling allowing foreign investment in filmmaking, Hollywood made its grand entrance with 20th Century Fox joining forces with Indonesia’s Lifelike Pictures to produce a $2 million film on the fictitious martial arts hero Wiro Sableng. The director Dwinas Sasongko hailed the joint venture as the first in Southeast Asia. Not to be outdone, South Korea’s CJ Entertainment reportedly has a 30% stake in the horror movie “Pengabdi Setan” (devil’s disciple).

    To be sure, Indonesia still lags such Asian giants as China, Japan, India and South Korea. Sure, a painting by Balinese artist I Nyoman Masriadi managed to fetch $1 million at a recent Hong Kong auction. The New York Times said nice things about “Beauty is a Wound” by writer Eka Kurniawan. Yet both are a flash in the pan that few compatriots have been able to emulate.

    Nevertheless, news on Indonesians making even a slight dent in the international arts and culture scene provide a pleasant respite to usual news on political turmoil, sectarian conflicts, national disasters and massive corruption. In short, it has restored in no small measure our faith in our people.