She Ain’t Heavy

2 minute read
Jason Tedjasukmana

Somewhere between low-brow movies and art-house fare is a sweet spot occupied by films that explore weighty subjects while still managing to entertain in a populist sense. Indonesian director Nia Dinata hit that spot in 2002 with Ca-bau-kan (The Courtesan), which looked at Chinese-Indonesian identity during the republic’s early years. Since then, she has directed two more films, Arisan! (The Gathering, 2003) and Berbagi Suami (Love for Share, 2006), and co-directed another, Perempuan Punya Cerita (Chants of Lotus, 2007). Each one depicts subjects rarely discussed in Indonesian society, such as homosexuality and polygamy, without proselytizing. “She tackles topics no one else will touch,” explains Rayya Makarim, a screenwriter who has collaborated with her. “She’s practically the only one doing that, and she does it without taking a position.”

Dinata’s small but entertaining corpus is now available as The Nia Dinata Collection, a slickly packaged DVD boxed set that is a thing of wonder in a country where original DVDs are more difficult to find than their pirated counterparts. It is all the more to be cherished given that she now spends rather more time producing movies through her company, Kalyana Shira Films, than she does directing them. Indonesia needs more taboo tacklers like this.

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