“Weekend of Cult Comics and Fantasy Film from Indonesia: Film screenings, exhibition and discussions” 16-17 March 2019 at SOAS (Centre of South East Asian Studies) University of London

Recently some shooting stars of action and martial arts cinema have managed to bring the attention of the public back to the cinematography of countries that had passed under the radar of most audiences. When the Iko Uwais bomb exploded with “Merantau” first and later with the two “The Raid”, many wondered what else had been produced in Indonesia, but I doubt that they managed to find an answer.

After digging into Indonesia’s film past, in 2014 French director and Artistic Director of Festival International des Cinemas d’Asie de Vesoul” Bastian Meiresonne put together an exhaustive documentary about the history of Indonesian pre-Raid popular cinema, “Garuda Power: The Spirit Within”. His film, a self-produced debut, is the result of great enthusiasm and passion, and is full of discoveries.

Now UK public will have another occasion to see the documentary in London as part of an all-fun “Weekend of Cult Comics and Fantasy Film from Indonesia: Film screenings, exhibition and discussions” at on 16-17 March 2019 at SOAS (Centre of South East Asian Studies) University of London

Three documentary films, “Garuda Power”,” Fantasy Films from Indonesia” and “Blood Guts and Bad Acting”, will help to introduce and contextualize the genre by giving rare glimpses of some of the less well-known films along with interviews with industry professionals.

The three feature films take audiences from the early 1980s up to the present day. “Jaka Sembung” is a classic exploitation film from 1981 described by one fan as Islamic martial arts mayhem. “Tujuh Manusia Harimau”, (or “Seven Men-Tigers”) is the first European screening of the recently restored 1986 horror film in which modern man comes face-to face with seven mythical men-tigers. “Wiro Sableng”, is a 2018 box office success which draws on one of the most popular series of Indonesian novels based on the celebrated Indonesian martial art pencak silat.

The exhibition of Indonesian comics will showcase popular genre comics from fantasy strips from the 1930s to the independent comics of the 21st century.

The two panel discussions will see leading experts Hikmat Darmawan (Researching Indonesian comics since 2000), Dr Ekky Imanjaya (film critic and scholar specializing in fantasy film), Pete Tombs (Founder of the Mondo Macabro label), Bastian Meiresonne (Asian Cinema Specialist), and Dr Iain Smith (Senior Lecturer in Film studies KCL).

The exhibitions, screenings and discussions are free and open to everyone. For more info about the events schedule please go to the SOAS website.

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On paper I am an Italian living in London, in reality I was born and bread in a popcorn bucket. I've loved cinema since I was a little child and I’ve always had a passion and interest for Asian (especially Japanese) pop culture, food and traditions, but on the cinema side, my big, first love is Hong Kong Cinema. Then - by a sort of osmosis - I have expanded my love and appreciation to the cinematography of other Asian countries. I like action, heroic bloodshed, wu-xia, Shaw Bros (even if it’s not my specialty), Anime, and also more auteur-ish movies. Anything that is good, really, but I am allergic to rom-com (unless it’s a HK rom-com, possibly featuring Andy Lau in his 20s)"