Kantata - Samsara

Kantata - Panji-Panji Demokrasig

Kantata Takwa

Criado a partir de um concerto em Senayan, a principal locação do filme, Kantata Takwa utiliza a música como narrador. Usando animação e ação ao vivo, os três diretores uniram música, teatro e cinema em uma nova unidade.

Os protagonistas do filme são figuras bem conhecidas na Indonésia, como o poeta e dramaturgo WS Rendra e o cantor e compositor Iwan Fals ( conhecido como o Bob Dylan do extremo oriente).

O subtítulo da orquestra do filme, Takwa, significa amor com paciência, dedicação e sinceridade - um estado de espírito que anseia por dignidade e humanismo. O co-diretor Eros Djarot, afirma: "A questão central é: por quê? Porque temos de viver em um mundo sangrento? Se não conseguirmos responder a essa pergunta, nós estamos acabados."

Embora pese o estatuto de independência e de caráter experimental do filme, ele teve um orçamento relativamente grande, graças ao apoio do bilionário do petróleo Djodi Setiewan, que também tem um papel de figurante no filme. Os três diretores se reuniram a partir de diferentes origens e buscaram uma forma de encontrar as raízes da cultura indonésia nesse premiado documentário.

Production company:
Ekapraya Tata Cipta Film, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Tel / Fax: (62.021) 7350372
Email: gotot_prakosa@yahoo.com

Kantata Takwa:
A Little Boy Watching ‘Kantata Takwa’
by Ifan Adriansyah Ismail

For some people, watching Kantata Takwa may evoke a nostalgic feeling. But for our 21st century generation, Kantata Takwa could be more than that: it’s a spirit reawakening.

For some technical or political reasons, Kantata Takwa may be one of the most time-consuming films in the making process. Its raw celluloid lies idly for almost 18 years since its production took place in 1990. Watching it now, one could never imagine that a film like this could be shown to public, due to its political content.

Even when it could, the impact would be so different, and the film itself may have been tampered with unmercifully. Now it is being shown to 2008 audiences, a generation so amnesiac it can’t (or won’t) remember its own history. Are the filmmakers trying to impose their memory on us? Are they becoming so old that they have to go to their days gone by? What do they expect anyway?

Kantata Takwa recorded a history stroked down by the rebelling legendary music group with the same name, manned by the rebellious musicians of its times, such the legendary Iwan Fals. Together they collaborated with poet W.S. Rendra to make a semi-documentary film. The film is also a musical, and frankly, cannot be easily categorized. It was not documenting the backstage processes; it was not trying to visualize a concept-album like Pink Floyd did with their The Wall (Alan Parker, 1982). Rather, Kantata Takwa may be wilder in its own fashion.

It’s an effort to capture the artists’ inner thoughts, reflections and struggles. It’s a theatrical performance; it’s a poetry reading; it’s a political statement and it’s a concert. There is almost no recognizable plot here, neither a story with a defining structure. What we can instantly feel is its consistent mood and aura: a thick atmosphere of people who dare to say ‘NO’.

Thankfully, Kantata Takwa is truly more than sum of its parts. Rendra delivered his oration-poems, his theatre pack performed surreally, the musicians created high-energy songs, and of course, the filmmakers managed to capture the energy in its peak. That alone would justify the film’s sometimes ‘too theatrical’ moments.

True, Rendra and the musicians were a pack of eccentric artists with hard-to-find meanings. But they resonated with Indonesians’ inner frustration and anger. The time was the 90s, the backdrop was a dictatorial regime, and the director was a king-like president, unwilling to be denied by any means. The Indonesians were mainly fed, but social injustices were virtually everywhere and, while it was blatantly there, would not be acknowledged. So anger and inner resentment were the only driving force for resistance. And Kantata Takwa was one of the few who shouted.

Some of the most moving scenes were documentary parts from their actual concert in Senayan National Stadium at June 23 rd, 1990. It was a triggering moment to the point of cultural movement when they sang:

Sabar sabar sabar dan tunggu
Itu jawaban yang kami terima
Ternyata kita harus ke jalan
Robohkan setan yang berdiri mengangkang

Oh oh ya oh ya oh ya bongkar!
Oh oh ya oh ya oh ya bongkar!

(Be patient and wait

That’s the response we always get

We must take it to the streets

To topple down that towering Devil ahead

Oh yes, oh yes, tear it down!

Oh yes, oh yes, tear it down!)

Directors and screenwriters Eros Djarot and Gotot Prakosa didn’t forget to include another resistance icon which was a hip at those times: jilbab, or Moslem women’s headscarf. In the 90s, the paranoid government felt that any identity symbol associated with Islam would pose a threat against the state doctrine. Thus, headscarves were banned, and Islam-as-a-movement was prohibited.

In the film, a motherly figure wearing a headscarf was portrayed as a bearing witness to the events depicted: a village mob protesting their chief’s villainy to the final elimination of the artists — Rendra and friends — in the hands of the shadowy militaristic figures. The filmmakers seemed to put a great hope upon the women. After the climaxing ultimate annihilation, a symbolic final scene depicted the women with headscarves marching forward, warriors-like, under the watchful and blessing eyes of the ‘late’ artists.

One may accuse that Islam was ‘used’ as a mere resistance icon, only to make this piece popular among Indonesians. Allegedly, there were some truth in that accusation, but one cannot deny the inner-struggling the artists had when it dealt with spirituality and religion. When they sang:

Malam khusuk menelan tahajjudku
Lidah halilintar menjilat batinku
Mentari dan cakrawala kenyataan hidup
Hanya padaMulah kekuasaan kekal


Lindungilah dari ganas dan serakah
Lindungilah aku dari setan kehidupan
Berikan mentariMu sinar takwa
Ya ampunilah dosa

(The silent night swallowed my prayer

The lightning touched my soul

The sun and the horizon of life

The eternal mightiness lies on You only


Protect us from violence and greed

Protect us from devilish life

Shine us Y our light of piety

Forgive ours sins)

…we can see that religion and spirituality, like everywhere else, can be a powerful force that is truly liberating.

On matters concerning liberation and freedom, Kantata Takwa never hesitated. In an almost vulgar way, the repressing parties were so obvious: from a theatrically hypocrite judge with his ever changing mask to faceless thugs with rifles and military-style boots. So Eric’s observation may be right: that Kantata Takwa was indeed intended to blatantly voicing anger against government repression on its times.

But times changed. There is no longer a single ever-powerful and omnipresent dictator in Indonesia. There is no more “a towering Devil” (“Setan yang berdiri mengangkang”). Instead, we got little devils now, ghosting around in a fragmented Indonesia, without any direction or a celebrated cause.

The irony of Soeharto’s fall is that while many things changed, frustration and anger among the people stood still. Headscarf is still a matter of identity, but in turning events, it has been hijacked into a culture war with fascistic tendencies. In addition to that, we can see globally that the spirit of revolution is over. There is no more Che Guevara, no more revolutionist causes and no more roaring Iwan Fals in his full-energy mode.

So what’s the significance of this film? Indonesia has changed rapidly, although whether to a better direction or not is debatable. That makes Kantata Takwa’s stubborn theme seemed outdated. Well, if you are a cynical pessimist, then yes, Kantata Takwa was no more than a nostalgic effort by some aged artists and filmmakers. If you are an optimist, then you may agree with me that this film is truly an important piece of work, a fuel for another cultural movement, even now.

I feel blessed being a member of a generation that’s slightly younger from Kantata Takwa generation. When Erros and Gotot pointed their cameras to these artists, I was a little boy wearing school uniform with short pants, reciting and memorizing from school lessons with state-approved curricula. And I was too little and too far away from Jakarta to be involved in that ‘small revolution’ evolved from Senayan National Stadium.

But I am not completely isolated, thank God. From my brother’s and father’s magazines, I remember reading about Kantata Takwa concert that was deemed ‘disturbing the peace’. I remember my heart been moved by Iwan Fals’ songs that were voicing the marginalised, and I remember reading news of Moslem girl students expelled from school because of their headscarves. But that was just that. Hence, with that kind of limited memory, watching Kantata Takwa gave a new meaning to me.

It was obviously not a nostalgic moment for me, but it was a spiritual enlivening, rooted in the past. It drew a bigger context to my memories. Now I can see again that glare. Iwan Fals, standing like a towering rock with his bare chest and his guitar above the stage was a scene that I will never forget. When I saw him, I saw a culture movement in the work, and I saw a people’s power in the making.

Kantata Takwa is not a mere historical record. It captured the spirit of a wounded nation, while in these contemporary times we seldom forget why we were wounded. With its powerful spirit, Kantata Takwa should have been given chance to reach out from their time, and passing the force to a younger generation that in dire need for it.

Fontes: Ekapraya Tata Cipta Film; rumahfilm.org, Singapore Film Festival



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