UCLA CSEAS hosted the 2018 Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival with a screening of the new film "Sultan Agung" by the prominent Indonesian director, Hanung Bramantyo.
By Dennaya Nadhifa (UCLA, 2020)
The UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies collaborated with the Indonesian Bruins Student Association to host a film screening of "Sultan Agung" (2018) on December 1, 2018 at the James Bridges Theater as part of the 2018 Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival. The film showcases the rise of the king of Mataram, Sultan Agung, previously known as Raden Mas Rangsang, from his teenage years before ascending the throne to his fight for independence against the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). Following Sultan Agung’s life story, the film exposes the audience to the struggles and realities of life in 17th Century Central Java under Dutch colonization.
"Sultan Agung" was highly anticipated by the Indonesian community in Los Angeles due to its nomination as the best movie in Festival Film Indonesia (FFI) 2018. The Q&A session after the screening was attended by Marthino Lio (the actor playing the role of young Sultan Agung) and Lukman Sardi (the actor playing the role of Tumenggung Notoprojo). In the Q&A session moderated by Michael Adoe (current President of Association of the Indonesian Students in the United States or PERMIAS), the actors discussed the preparation they went through for their respective roles. According to Lukman, while they heavily relied on imagination, research, and workshops, having one of the great great grandchildren of Sultan Agung, Mooryati, as the executive producer of the film helped the cast extensively as they were able to “have conversations with [her] about how the royalty family in Java acted during that time.”
Lio also shared a personal story about the time he and the other actors had to go to the grave of Sultan Agung to ask permission to do the shoot. “When I said to him that I’d like to ask him for guidance and blessings, I felt this heavy, big hand forcing me to do the sujud position (a position to show praise and respect), then I felt the hand rubbing my back, which I interpreted to be a sign of his blessings,” Lio said. He also added, “There were instances during the shooting of the film where I was supposed to be injured badly, but nothing happened.”
Furthermore, the actors expressed their thoughts on the moral of the film. Through this film, Lio wanted to convey the message about the importance of “finding our true calling, not out of our ego, but for the greater of every man and woman in our environment, for the greater good.” He and Lukman concluded the night by highlighting Sultan Agung’s most important line in the film which was, “Pulanglah dan ajarilah anak-anak kalian untuk mencintai negeri ini (Go home to your families and teach your children to love this country)” - a line that they deem to be the crucial message that the audience should take away from the film.
Evident through the reactions during the film screening and the enthusiasm of the crowd during the Q&A session, the movie was well received by an engaged and captivated audience. This was the second year in a row that the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies hosted the Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival.