Yang Muda, Yang Berwacana

review Segudang Wajah Para Penantang Masa Depan (foreign festival title: The Myriad of Faces of the Future Challengers), realisator: I Gde Mika & Yuki Aditya, durasi: 91 menit, ditonton di: bioskoop mikro Forum Lenteng.

a micro cinema with foam soundproof walls and ceiling. two men stand at the front facing the audience.
l-r: “realisator” i gde mika and yuki aditya

film, atau filem kalau mengikuti nomenklatur ala forlen, yang berusaha menginvestigasi “segudang wajah” sinema orde baru lewat montase potongan-potongan adegan yang didownload dari file-file “anonymous” di youtube yang diiringi voiceover pseudo-puitis dan theory-adjacent (namedropping kuleshov, bazin, tarkovsky, etc, ✅). potongan-potongan adegannya iconiiiic! so memeable, seperti doomscrolling fyp a true gen z. seru banget jadi pengen nonton lagi cintaku di rumah susun karena footages dari film nya abbas akup ini disandingkan dengan manis dengan adegan-adegan dari the ladies man jerry lewis, menunjukkan keintertekstualitasan di antara mereka alias apa aja yang dicontek nya abbas; voiceover yang muda, yang berwacana sepanjang filem ini, not so seru. ranging from poetic epiphanies yang oke juga (“film, seperti jemuran, juga memerlukan cahaya” — di permulaan film yang nunjukin banyaknya dan, sepertinya, pentingnya scene jemuran dalam film orba) tapi terus nggak dilanjutin poinnya. are they airing orba’s dirty laundry, or what? malah langsung segue ke biopic sjuman djaja (iirc). seperti banyak gen z (i gde mika: born 1999) yang hobi bikin megathread di twitter, voiceover film ini juga sotoy tapi strangely hollow, sophisticated-sounding tapi ternyata shallow. comot teori sana teori sini, gabungin dengan gaya deklamasinya, jadi word salad dengan dressing aan mansyur (plenty of shady toppings soal dominasi jawakarta juga di sini).

during a discussion after the film screening i asked mika about the purple prose of the voiceover, why and what it was trying to achieve. mika said, “nggak pengen terlalu langsung ngomongnya.” okurrr, another bilang begini, maksudnya begitu sapardian then. (why do gen zs still read sapardi?)

the opaqueness of the narration sometimes results merely in unintended hilarity (i have a soft spot for “ornamen massa”, whatever that means) but sometimes it also makes you wonder not only about what are the filmmakers trying to say, but also about whose voice(over) is this anyway?

misalnya ada adegan aneh di hampir akhir film yang dimulai dengan voiceover bombastis, “komunis beraksi dalam gelap”, kemudian diikuti scene jenderal-jenderal matiin lampu di menteng mansion mereka pas malam tanggal 30 september 1965 yang diambil dari film penumpasan pengkhianatan g 30 s pki. but the film was the greatest propaganda movie ever? it made triumph of the will feel like free willy. in reality the pki wasn’t an underground party back then? they weren’t an underground, shadowy bahaya laten (yet)? was the voiceover being ironic, haha, komunis beraksi dalam gelap, yakeles. or was it, inadvertently perhaps, reinforcing the special place in hellish darkness orba reserved for pki anything?

in the discussion after the film, yuki explained how many of the ideas for the film were hashed out by writing simple descriptions of film footages that caught the filemmakers’ eye. quite an organic process. i asked if the voiceover in the above scene then became a sort of ersatz alt text for the visually impaired but nothing more? mika’s answer was vague. didn’t sound like he knew what alt text was? was it another case of bilang gak tahu, maksudnya tahu, tapi nggak mau kasitahu (secara langsung)? 🤷🏻‍♀️

but then again, yang matiin lampu-lampu dalam adegan di atas kan jenderal-jenderal, antek-antek imperialis kolonialis kapitalis. jadi seharusnya mereka dong yang beraksi dalam gelap? (if you were writing an alt text for the scene.)

segudang wajah adalah sebuah filem essay, tapi lebih seperti essay yang difilemkan, not quite a film essay ala sans soleil chris marker misalnya, yang juga mengandalkan jukstaposisi antara documentary footage dan poetic monologue tapi the sum is greater than its parts. the sum of segudang wajah seringnya malah bikin makin gak jelas wajah sinema orba sebenernya kayak rano karno atau meriam bellina?

sometimes the voiceover is also simply historically naive. in one of the scenes it said that revolusi indonesia berakhir dengan perang dingin dan proyek mercusuar bung karno, seperti gbk dan… konferensi asia-afrika 🤦‍♀️. the images that accompanied the voiceover were interesting, an offshore oil rig from a wim umboh film and a pasak bumi rawdogging the earth from a sjuman djaya one (cmiiw). were the footages used to slyly stan the voiceover, that to the filmmakers soekarno was also an extractive capitalist? but in other parts of the film they seemed to sympathize with the soekarnoists and communists (though at the same time skeptical about marxism and communism). were the filmmakers aware of the anti-soekarno montage effect they’ve created in this scene (or at least that it could easily be interpreted that way) or were they not aware? were the footages selected following a certain ideology, or out of a desire to be cynical about any orde, lama maupun baru?

di skena contemporary art sekarang, namines senang bermain-main dengan arsip. tontey dengan local wisdom manahasa atau tintin wulia dengan arsip-arsip ’65, tropic fever (belum nonton). dalam poetry, buku seperti blakwork alison whittaker yang men-decolonize legal archives kolonial inggris mengenai orang aborigin, atau human looking andy jackson yang men-subvert archives dan government policies tentang disability. filem ini juga bermain-main dengan arsip sinema orde baru, tapi agak tidak jelas apa yang berusaha dilakukannya, walaupun di tengah-tengah film ada pernyata/tanyaan yang sepertinya jadi origin story film ini: “apa yang dikatakan oleh sinema orde baru yang kita tidak tahu?” — or something like that (maaf baru nonton sekali dan tidak punya superpower menulis notes dalam kegelapan, jadi quotes sepanjang review ini mungkin sekali ga verbatim, please check with the filmmakers!). does it treat sinema orba as an archive on its own or is it protesting against previous attempts at archiving it (by whom?)?

the footages were mostly pilfered from anonymous youtube channels, but not all of them. so the filem can’t really claim to be decolonizing youtube archivists either. the filmmakers are a gen z x gen x duo (kira-kira, i know yuki from the old sedot-sedotan film scene of the early 2010s, kayaknya sih dia sempat merasakan orba secara langsung), so we can’t really say this is a post-orba critique of orba films either. some sort of curation was obviously involved (many of the films included — yang muda, yang bercinta; kerikil-kerikil tajam; ibunda; et al — are already part of the sinema orba canon, no segitiga emas here), but the process wasn’t really acknowledged in the highfaluting voiceover nor was its curation methodology explained (why were most of the footages taken from “anonymous” youtube archivists? is what the film criticizes/problematicizes (biar more gen z) the common people’s canon(ization) of orba films?)

in the end the film is trying to say so many things — propaganda orba, orba gaze, jawakarta imperialism, pki, communism, capitalism, a smorgasbord of extreme cinema nuggets — but not very articulately. there’s a lack of coherence that may seem to mimic the diversity of topoi, tropes, and titillations that orba films offered but the filmmakers failed to make the parallel to highlight the point — that orba films’ segudang wajah are so diverse they’re impossible to distill into just one visage. perhaps they didn’t even see the parallel.

at the end of the film, the voiceover slash poet laureate namedropped kuleshov and with help from an agan harahap soeharto meme created a wikihow on soviet montage theory, what editing can do to generate different meanings. turns out kuleshov was the godfather of memes! homeboi was a tiktoker with mad capcut skillz.

so it’s almost only right and natural that the film can feel like doomscrolling on a gen z’s fyp, where you get everything from gore animemes to pororo the cat trying to flog kochengwear, the algorithm is wild af. similarly, in segudang wajah you get everything from ultra macho contemplation on marxism (atheis) to… ultra macho contemplation on eroticism (complete with raging sam-sam jawir hard-ons, in roro mendut).

aka, sinema orde baru was a deus ex memema! orba films were busy creating a myriad of memes for the future, they were cogs in a hyperactive meme-making machina!

what the filmmakers didn’t seem to realize was that their film was also (re)generating memes from/out of the sinema orba memes in order to distill and point out their tropes. father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. if they did, that would’ve tied the whole thing together: nih loh, we’re presenting you with segudang wajah filem orba, wajahnya emang ga koheren, sama kayak filem ini.

sayangnya sekarang it feels more like they’ve lovingly and painstakingly collected and curated segudang wajah sinema orba but then forgot to give you the key to the warehouse.

several people sitting in a half circle around white round tables and chairs, chatting
outside the microcinema at forlen in jagakarsa. very cool space, literally, thanks to the ceiling bricks imported from jatiwangi art factory

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