Film: Dancing Through Indonesia’s Dark Days
The new movie “Sang Penari” (“The Dancer”) is only the third Indonesian film to chronicle one of the country’s most violent, unspoken periods: the anti-communist purge that heralded the start of the New Order era.
The movie – based on the novel “Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk” by Ahmad Tohari – tells a love story in the 1960s that unfolds during the 30 September Movement, which led to the fall of former President Sukarno and the killings of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians.
“I like that this film visualizes what the poor were going through, and it shows the killings I witnessed at the time but couldn’t write about in my novel,” Ahmad said.
“Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk” was first published in the 1980s, when Suharto’s anti-communist New Order regime was still in power. “Had I written about the killings, I probably would have been shot by Suharto,” Ahmad said.
Following a three-year absence after his first feature film, “Garuda di Dadaku” (“Garuda on My Chest”), Yogyakarta-born director Ifa Isfansyah has harnessed all his creative energy for “Sang Penari.”
“I know I have to represent my generation, so this film takes the perspective of the Millennial generation,” Ifa said.