ASIA NEWS REPORT
by Xin Yage
The international version has come out, dubbed in English, of the feature film dedicated to Msgr. Albertus Soegijapranata, the first indigenous bishop. The director: he is not only a religious leader, but an author, philosopher and guide in a period of upheaval. For the producer of "Soegija", the bishop fought for unity in the diversity of cultures and faiths.
Taipei (AsiaNews) - A few days ago there also came out the international version - dubbed in English - of the Indonesian film "Soegija", shown for the first time on June 7 in Jakarta and focusing on one of the founding fathers of the nation. It concerns Msgr. Albertus Soegijapranata, the first native to be ordained bishop of the local Catholic Church (see AsiaNews06/07/2012Central Java: world premiere of Soegija, documentary film on the bishop and "national hero"). The film's official premier (click here to see the trailer) was also attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, together with senior state officials; now the film, which focuses on the values of national identity, independence and coexistence between different religions, has made its entrance into Taiwan, raising the universal values of "humanity and brotherhood."
Interviewed by AsiaNews during the Taiwan stage, the film's director Garin Nugroho explained that "the figure of Soegijapranata attracted me at first because he was the leader of a religious world; he was the first Indonesian bishop, appointed during the period of the Second World War, which swept through Europe and then Asia." In addition, he was "a writer, a thinker, the editor of a Catholic magazine of that time. He was also", the director continued, "a speaker with rare diplomatic skills that revealed the political dimension inside him. And finally, the film shows Soegijapranata's role in preserving values and embodying them in his leadership in the midst of all these upheavals."
As the executive producer of the film Y.I. Iswarahadi affirms, "the film 'Soegija' is intended as a reference and as a reflection on the nation, on humanity and the faith of the Indonesian people: with regard to the concept of nation, we want to learn the spirit of Soegijapranata who fought for safety and welfare, peace and unity." The bishop raised "the social welfare and dignity of those who suffered," and on the subject of faith taught to "integrate our faith into our lives," as "a true nation" and not just in "the interest of our group."
"This film chooses two transitional moments in the life of Soegijapranata", the director continues in his account to AsiaNews. "The first occurs in Semarang, during the Japanese occupation. The second is in Yogyakarta, when he accompanies the leaders of Indonesian independence. At that time, the capital had been moved to Yogyakarta. He went through these two great transitions related to economic, social, political, and cultural problems on local and international levels." Nirwan Dewanto, the actor who plays Soegijapranata, emphasized the bishop's support for the emerging "new republic," an element "present in his writings and in his speeches. He was an active supporter of this republic. His phrase 'one hundred percent Catholic and one hundred percent Indonesian' I think was taken up by other religious leaders" according to "the principles of a nation's struggle for the freedom of its people."
The film is multicultural, representing the different ethnic groups of the country concentrated at the time in Yogyakarta, the Chinese community, and the two forces of external aggression: the Japanese and the Dutch. The ethnic Chinese actress Olga Lydia, "mother" of the small Ling Ling in the film, says that "the Indonesians and the Chinese are both victims of war, regardless of ethnicity or their religion: the true enemy is the war, the violence itself." Having cost more than a million and a half dollars, the film is considered an "epic movie" by Indonesian standards; many simple people, desirous of bringing to the fore the figure of the first bishop of Indonesian nationality, contributed to its making. The international cooperation, as well as actors from different countries, also emerge in the production: the photography was entrusted to a Malaysian expert in the industry, Teoh Gay Hian, who filmed digitally with Arriflex cameras, as well as in post-production which took place in Thai studios in Bangkok.
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